Quotable Viggo 2010


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Quotable Viggo: 16 January 2010

Viggo has mentioned that in preparing for his role in The Road he had taken another look at 'Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc for the emotional truth of the performances and cinematography.' (Los Angeles Magazine, Dec 2009). This is a film he has mentioned many times in the past as one of his major film influences. Maria Falconetti's mesmerising performance in the Dreyer's silent film astonished him when he first saw it. With her eyes alone she conveys all the emotions of Joan of Arc in one of the world's great screen performances. It's easy to see why Viggo returned to it for a sparse film where just a look has to convey the depth of McCarthy's beautiful text. Falconetti is just one of several actors and actresses that have either inspired Viggo over the years or given him the kind of thrill that all fans will recognise when he's had the chance to act with them.

© Touchstone/Buena Vista.

"I was a bit older than most when I started acting. I was around 27, while many start as teenagers, even earlier. I came to acting because of simple curiosity: I wanted to know how movies were made. Between the ages of 18 and 20, I started to watch works which I had ignored until then, essentially European and Japanese movies directed by Carl Dreyer, Yasujiro Ozu, Ingmar Bergman... I started to ask myself questions about their contents and direction."

The King Is Mortensen, Long Live The King!
By Marc Toullec
Cine Live #71
September 2003

"The performance which most astonishes me is certainly that of Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc. It is so vibrant. The first time I saw this film, I felt moved in every fiber of my body. When a performance leaves you so marked, so to speak, it's because you have watched great art. Or, quite simply, the form of art that comes closest to you. When I started to take acting lessons in New York, I used these performances as models."

Viggo Mortensen: The Soul of a Warrior
By Juliette Michaud
Studio Magazine
December 2002

He opens a large cardboard box at his feet. There are about a dozen books... all are published by Perceval, a small press he runs with a partner. Then he pulls out a DVD of The Passion of Joan of Arc, a 1928 silent movie. He informs me that the original negative was destroyed in a fire, and that the filmmaker died believing his masterwork had been obliterated. But a complete version was found in a closet in a Norwegian mental institution in the early 1980s and was restored.

"You published this too?" I ask.

"Nah," he says. "You should just see it."

Finding Viggo
By Alex Kuczynski
Vanity Fair magazine
January 2004

"The real trigger for me was the film that everyone was talking about when I was twenty: The Deer Hunter, particularly Meryl Streep. What an inspiration! All the actors in that movie are amazing, no doubt; but there's something about Meryl Streep in that movie that makes me identify with her. I don't know why, something mysterious that you can't put your finger on, but which haunts you deeply, and for a long time..."

Viggo Mortensen: The Soul of a Warrior
By Juliette Michaud
Studio Magazine
December 2002

"Meryl Streep was someone I really admired and Greta Garbo also. There was something about her. There was something that she almost always was able to transmit, that I think is a mystery to me."

The Viggo Question & Answer Session at C.U.N.Y.
By - transcription by Chrissie and Tatiana
New York Times Arts and Leisure Weekend
6 January 2006

"When I saw Death in Venice, by Visconti, I had a big shock. It is one of the movies that has really inspired me. I saw it again recently, it's a little dated, especially the flashbacks, but still ... That mixture of beauty and sadness ... And also the performance of Dirk Bogarde is so extraordinary! Its impact on me has been enormous."

Viggo Mortensen: The Soul of a Warrior
By Juliette Michaud
December 2002
Source: Studio Magazine

It should come as no surprise to learn that Mortensen is an admirer of Greta Garbo, the "I vant to be alone" diva, and also John "The Duke" Wayne, star of Howard Hawks' Red River, a classic western and one of Mortensen's favourites.

"I just think John Wayne was wonderful, and I'm not looking at him as just this icon," said the chisel-jawed actor, a study in seriousness behind innocent blue eyes.

A New John Wayne: Viggo Mortensen Saddles Up for Hidalgo
By Peter Howell
Toronto Star
5 March 2004

"I accepted, in part because I had always wanted to work with Christopher Walken," the actor says while sitting on the sofa's edge. His face lights up when saying Walken's name. It's evident that Christopher Walken is a cult actor for many young actors nowadays. "I would do any movie with him, no matter what [it was]."

On "The Prophecy'
Viggo Mortensen: A Very Devilish Devil In The Prophecy
by Ferran Viladevall
La Opinión 1995

"...Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington had a lot...quite a bit of dialogue, and it was being filmed in Culver City in the west side of Los Angeles, near where I lived. So I would go on my days off, which were many, and just watch them. It was a free class, you know."

Viggo Mortensen Talking To Janet Maslin about Crimson Tide at C.U.N.Y.
By - transcription by Chrissie and Tatiana
New York Times Arts and Leisure Weekend
6 January 2006

Did you enjoy working with Omar Sharif?

How could you not? He's very right for the part because of his background as an Egyptian actor in Hollywood - he's got one foot in the east and one in the west. It was great to work with him because of Lawrence of Arabia and his place in cinema history; not only working with him, but pestering him with questions about David Lean and Peter O'Toole and all that.

Here Viggo Again
Total DVD magazine #64
July 2004

"... I took note of Marlon Brando and Montgomery Cliff. But I still remain in ecstasy watching the work of actresses like Liv Ullman in Sonata, by Ingmar Bergman..."

A Multi-talented Hero
By J. A. - translated by NacidaLibre
27 August 2006

While studying in New York, the encouragement he received from Warren Robertson was only slightly more important than his love of watching theater and movies....

"I think I insulted him one time, unintentionally, but he knew what I meant. The teacher had talked about a certain movie, I think it was a movie with Montgomery Clift... I can't remember. But anyway, I went to see it, and I remember saying, you know, 'I learned as much from that movie as probably a month of going to class'..."

Viggo's Box
By Craig Clevenger
Fond Affexxions #5, Winter Thaw 1995

"I like Missouri Breaks. And Red River, a case, as in this movie, where most of the main actors are not known as "western" actors. Montgomery Clift had basically never done a movie, much less a western, and he's an urban easterner. He comes out stepping smack in the middle of John Wayne's turf, and working for Howard Hawks, he must have been a little nervous, I'm sure. But he did a great job. I think he pushed Wayne into giving my favorite Wayne performance."

An Actor Lured By Western Promise
By Ty Burr
Boston Globe
28 September 2008

"Not many child actors could do what he did every day. Just on a technical level, he reacted the way a veteran actor would, seizing on an obstacle and befriending it. I told him, 'You're doing things that are revolutionary -- things that Brando and Montgomery Clift did.' He said, 'Who's Montgomery Clift?' "

Viggo talking about Kodi Smit-McPhee
Big Gun Takes on the Apocalypse
Charles McGrath
New York Times
10 September 2009

Quotable Viggo: 10 January 2010

Reading this week that Viggo was mistaken for one of the homeless while filming The Road reminded me of all those other occasions where Viggo has turned up in such unexpected ways and in such unexpected places you'd be forgiven for a) not recognising him b) being faintly alarmed or c) wondering what a movie 'star' is doing there at all. So be warned, world, you could be Viggoed anywhere and not even know it...

© Focus Features.

Mortensen....was so grime-ridden that he was once mistaken for a vagrant and removed by the production's security team. "They saw that he was in the shot," Hillcoat says, "and presumed he was a homeless person, so they asked him to leave."

The Road: a sure-fire hit for 2010
Kevin Maher
The Times
11 November 2009

The executive producer insisted that the actor spent the entire day, "I think even the weekends, filthy and with his make up on, because he said that he had to feel as uncomfortable as the character in order to portray it correctly." The difference is that, when he wasn't shooting, due to doctor's advice, he would take off his boots and walk barefoot, "so in Seville he walked into a store and the owner, an old man who did not know who Mortensen was, gave him a pair of used canvas shoes."

Pérez-Reverte talking about Alatriste
"En España no hay suficientes actores jóvenes buenos para rodar 'Alatriste"
By L.M.-L. Alatriste conference in Murcia
El Faro de Murcia

I went into a bar and it looked like the saloon of a Western. When I went in, everybody stopped talking because I was a stranger. Although I looked like them - half the people were blond and blue-eyed - no one spoke to me. I had a coffee and stayed for a little while because it was snowing outside and it was cold. I left, but I kept thinking about that place, about that village, about those people. I went back a second time and, without asking me anything, they served me the same thing I had had the previous time. On that occasion they'd talked to me. On my third visit I was a friend, they already trusted me. Their character, their way of speaking, the tone they used, that sharp tone, that so succinct character...I thought I had arrived at the place where Alatriste had grew up.

The Court of Alatriste
By Rocío García - translated by Paddy
El País Semanal
6 August 2006

"I only heard him speak after the shoot was over, and then only to say, 'Thanks everybody, so long.' He'd make clicking noises in the back of his throat to communicate," recalls costar Brendan Fraser. Mortensen refused to break character even to settle his hotel bill. "The concierge probably didn't speak English, and here's Viggo gesturing with his hands and pointing, scribbling on a pad. And I think Viggo eventually got 50% off the bill. If you know Viggo, it makes perfect sense. In a way, he transcends the acting."

Viggo Trip
By Liane Bonin
Flaunt magazine #39
November 2002

The other day, Mortensen popped into a Russian-owned soup counter near the London set. "The place went silent," says our spy, "not because of his star power, but because the people recognized the tattoos - and were appropriately intimidated. Later, when it became clear Viggo didn't know 10 words of Russian, the atmosphere relaxed."

New York Daily News
January 2007

"Before the audition, I wanted to practice a little so I called up a friend of mine, [actress] Valeria Golino, and she helped me to get all dressed up. Then I walked on Broadway in New York in the middle of the day. Nobody even blinked an eye, and some guys whistled.'

Viggo Mortensen on auditioning for To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar.
The Hot New 39-Year-Old
by Dennis Hensley
Movieline magazine, 1998

As an oblivious world walked by - including hordes of media types attending TIFF - actor Viggo Mortensen sat openly in the lobby of the Sutton Place, gently tickling the ivories of a baby grand piano.... Following his impromptu recital, the soft-spoken taciturn actor said, "I just made it up."

Viggo Mortensen plays piano at Sutton Place
Bruce Demara
8 September 2008

"I remember one time a cop in New Zealand, where we were filming, stopped me because I was walking out of my apartment in the middle of the night carrying a huge sword. I guess it was an alarming sight, but I was just walking to work. "

Viggo Mortensen
Rings Actor Lives Warrior Role
Chicago Sun Times, 2001

I have to tell you...what an awful combination it is to have a US passport and a Buenos Aires accent when you arrive at the Chile airport. A pretty long delay... my friends that had Spanish passports had already gone through (customs), and they were waiting... and the guy kept checking, very kindly, but he wasn't letting me go anywhere, and he talks to me in a pretty tortured English, and so I tell him: "I speak Spanish, you can talk to me in Spanish". And so he gave me a long look, and then I realized I had ****** up, really, because the combination of the accent and the passport... I was going straight to jail, or so it looked. And so another customs officer comes and says, "No, no, he is the Lord of the Rings", and so..."Welcome to Chile" and (pam, pam - sound of passport getting stamped) "Here you go...go ahead".

Viggo on Radio Cooperativa, Chile
Transcribed/translated by Graciela
27 March 2007

'Yesterday, my limousine was blockaded by people. The fans were banging against the windows. I opened the door and escaped down a small alley. And who did I run into? King Pelé and his bodyguards. I asked for an autograph...but his bodyguards stopped me. King in his limousine, poor beggar in the street. A good lesson,' concludes Mortensen, who invites you to reflect on the morality of such a story.

Viggo Mortensen - The Lord Touches All
By François-Guillaume Lorrain - translated by Margarita
27 October 2005
Source: Le Point

Quotable Viggo: 2 January 2010

It's 2010 and Awards Season is here again. The SAG and the Golden Globe nominations have been announced and we've been fighting disappointment here at V-W, but there are more awards to come, and we've got a rollercoaster ahead of us as we wait to see if Viggo and The Road get the recognition we hope for. To help us through I thought it was time to take a look at awards in general, bask again in the glory of 2008 and look at the philosophical way Viggo treats them as a great way of promoting a film, but not himself.

© 2929/Dimension Films.

Mortensen is long overdue for an Oscar win and if this film doesn't earn him that honor, there really is little justice (or sense) in the Academy voting system. Hearing the cast and crew talk about the actor's strict dedication to the part is downright inspiring.

Kofi Outlaw
24 November 2009

Some comments in the international press remark on your acting, speculating on a new nomination for the Oscar. What importance do you attach to the Hollywood Academy Award?

As Julio Cortazar wrote, "because yesterday is never/and tomorrow, tomorrow, "that is, if it happens, it happens. And if not, it doesn't. The recognition would be a big help to us in making sure The Road reaches the theatres and audience that this moving story deserves, since North American distributors were of little help with the promotion of the film. I think that awards and nominations are a crap shoot, a game of chance, and one shouldn't think about them too much, Accept it, with gratitude, if the film is nominated, yes. Win or lose with dignity. And that's it.

Of Crows And Condors
By Cristian H Savio - translated by Zooey and Ollie
El Argentino
16 December 2009

"Some actors think more on their Oscar-speech, money or fame than the scene they're shooting."

The Star Is Named Viggo
By Rolf Pedersen
November 2001
Source: M! magazine

"... I think someone who has that as their main goal risks missing out on the true satisfaction of teamwork, of being in the moment and enjoying the moviemaking process. You're not really giving your full attention to the work."

Viggo Mortensen
The Man Who Would be King
by Scott Thill
Salon.com, 2003

"You watch [the Oscars] and you realize that good work is maybe rewarded half the time and the other half of the time it's sort of a crapshoot, a popularity contest, and it's become more so. It's not gonna change my opinion about it having been a job well done, a good effort, and that's gonna last."

Viggo Mortensen on the ROTK Oscars
'King' Star Returns To The Screen, Riding High
by Todd Camp
Star Telegram, 6 March 2004

'For me, awards are a lottery; if it's your turn, it's your turn. I don't remember who told me, but it's like Churchill's medals: "You shouldn't go in search of them, but must accept them and never wear them."'

Viggo Mortensen
Alatriste, The Modern Hero
By Robert Andres Gomez - translated by Margarita
El Universal
25 March 2007

"I heard Lord of the Rings win their first one and I thought, 'Well, I can lie here in the dark like an idiot, or I can go out and be a man and sit in the kitchen and watch it with everybody else."

Viggo Mortensen on trying to avoid the Oscars at a friends house
David Letterman Show, 2004

"I don't know why I was included this time. I certainly haven't gone out and done the campaign that one is supposed to do. If you're lucky, you get a lottery ticket, then you have to go find some nice clothes, wash up and go, and it's very flattering, and my mother is very happy about it. But like most people - unless they're very practised at it or have no warm blood at all in their veins - I feel a little apprehensive about the red carpet.

Viggo on the 2008 Oscars
"My mother is very happy about it"
By Harriet Lane
The Guardian
22 February 2008

"I feel probably like Eli Manning felt at the Super Bowl. Glad to be in the show, ready for anything." _ Viggo Mortensen, nominated for best actor in "Eastern Promises."

Viggo at the Oscars
Associated Press
24 February 2008

"I'm realistic," Mortensen says. "I know I'm the odds-on favourite to remain seated throughout the ceremony."

Viggo on the 2008 Oscars
'My mother is very happy about it'
By Harriet Lane
The Guardian
February 22, 2008

"This road is more daunting than the road in the movie I'm making -- and that one has cannibals."

Viggo at the Oscars
The Envelope
By Geoff Boucher and Chris Lee
February 24, 2008

"Most People don't win, you know? So on the way out of the big auditorium, the Kodak, I went over to these people and said, 'Hey, let's do a loser's dance.' I started jumping, and they were just horrified at this loss they just suffered, you know? There were these filmmakers from Canada who lost and actually agreed. And I think Michael Moore did the losers dance. But I would say 99% of the losers didn't want to do the losers dance. They all just sort of ran from me like I was shitfaced drunk or something."

Viggo celebrating losing his Oscar
A History of Defiance
Daniel Mirth
Men's Journal
October 2009

Just look at how skinny and dirty Viggo is in the picture -- give that man an award, 30 seconds of acceptance speech time and a sandwich.

IFC.com comment about The Road publicity photos
19 August 2008

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Last edited: 2 January 2011 10:05:08