This North American gentleman, with his Argentinean accent and manners, is the star of the most expensive movie in Spanish history, Alatriste. Passing through his beloved Buenos Aires, he doesn't discard the possibility of falling in love with an Argentinean woman and taking an Olympic tour with his favorite team: San Lorenzo.
Image Gentileza Fox.
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On the first floor of a luxurious hotel in Buenos Aires, he greets LUZ from a couch where he is seated smoking a cigarette, barefoot, wearing a t-shirt depicting his beloved football team. Before beginning the interview he laments not having been able to walk down Corrientes Street to get pizza, as his travelling companions are doing at this very moment.
The simplicity of this New York actor, son of a Dane and an American, who lived here from the age of 2 to 11, overflows not just in his manner of speaking - more Argentinean than any other Argentinean - but also in his attitude and cordiality. Always anxious to return to Buenos Aires, he found the perfect excuse: the screening of Alatriste, based on the book by Arturo Perez-Reverte, where he plays a valiant soldier who, in between stories about love, corruption and intrigue, falls in love with the character portrayed by Spanish actress Ariadna Gil.
Why do you think they chose you to personify the soldier Alatriste, since it's a role that many Spanish actors would like to have played?
They told me that the description of the character was very similar to me: blue eyes and a physical type. I also speak Spanish. But maybe the most important thing was that much of Spain and Latin America know me thanks to the success of Lord of the Rings and Hidalgo.
You have a very strong Argentinean accent. How did you manage to adopt the Spanish tones and pronunciations?
When I met Ariadna we went out to dinner for the first time and she was surprised because I speak like a guy from Buenos Aires. But, luckily, both the director and the actors helped me throughout the filming.
To personify Alatriste, Viggo decided to spend several weeks in a town lost in the mountains of the province of León. There he interacted with the locals, who didn't have the slightest idea who they were sitting down to have coffee with, and got to know their customs and ways of speaking, which resemble those in Spain's Golden Age, the era in which the film occurs.
"I made a lot of friends; they made me an adoptive son of the town and built a plaza in my name," he says proudly.
Did you find somebody who resembled Alatriste in the town?
Everybody has a little bit of the character. They don't have many friends, speak infrequently and cautiously, don't trust [strangers] and are proud.
Do you have plans to film in Argentina?
I'd like to. It would be very natural, owing to my manner of speaking and the connection I have to the country. People may think I'm lying, but I'm not, it's just a matter of finding the right moment.
Do you like Argentinean movies? Have you had an opportunity to watch some movies?
Yes, every now and then.
Is there one you remember?
I saw a lot last year, but now I don't remember the names. What I would love is to be able to go to the theatre. Argentineans are famous for being the best Spanish-speaking actors.
Does coming to Buenos Aires make you nostalgic?
Yes. When you're a child you're very conscious of everything, but when you're an adult you tend to get locked up within yourself. That's why there are many sensations that I remember from Buenos Aires: the smell of the streets, the sounds, the light. I loved yesterday's rain, the sunset. Everything.
Do you have any other projects right now besides continuing to make movies?
Yes, I'm staying a few more days so I can see a game on Sunday. Then I'll head north, to study the wichi community, which interests me a lot.
Apart from the movies that he's filming and promoting this year (Eastern Promises, by David Cronenberg, and Appaloosa, directed by Ed Harris), Viggo dedicates a lot of time to other activities, among them writing poetry, (he's the owner of an independent press that often publishes books speaking out against Bush), music, photography, and he even makes time to spend with Henry, his teenage son with Exene Cervenka, a singer in a Californian punk band.
What are you like as a father?
One does what one can (he says in a resigned tone); the kid has turned out well, but I don't know if that's my fault. (He laughs).
Do you like Argentinean women?
The question is difficult, but the answer is easy. Yes, they're extremely beautiful. All of them.
Are there any specific characteristics you like?
No, they're like all Argentineans. That mix of European and indigenous culture. People here are very special; they have something that is very familiar to me. I don't know, I feel at home here.
So you could fall in love with an Argentinean woman?
Yes, easily. I like them a lot.
What would you prefer, to make a blockbuster movie or to see San Lorenzo win a championship?
I'd rather not talk about San Lorenzo right now because I don't want to jinx things. It's going really well for them and I want it to continue that way.