Image Takashi Seida.
© New Line Productions....
After bringing Aragorn to life in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Viggo Mortensen became a superstar. Curiously, the next step in the actor's career is to get into the role of Tom Stall, a reincarnation of the American hero stereotype, who doesn't turn out to be who everybody expected. The person whose work contributes to that is David Cronenberg, a cult director that - once again - scores a bull's-eye. Mortensen answered our questions in Spanish (with a strong Argentinean accent) at the suite of the Hotel Gran Meliá in Sitges, within the framework of the Festival where the film was released.
You seem to enjoy ambiguous characters...
For me every character is ambiguous, I don't like flat characters or those that don't appeal to me. In fact, every time I'm given a character who is very good and very calm and very kind, I begin to think what could be wrong with that guy, what terrible things will he have done and what his negative side will be.
So, it must be a pleasure to play such a three-dimensional character like the one in this film, especially because they are not easy to find in Hollywood today.
Yes, of course, it's an immense pleasure. But the most important thing is that apart from that character there is a great script, and behind that script a great director, a man with a different look and who is very careful about nuances. I have met a lot of directors who, either inadvertently or by mistake, were absolutely unable to establish a relationship like this with their actors. So it's nice to meet someone who cares about that.
Like, for example, that the violence isn't a circus spectacle but something very dry and very crude...
That's what I love about Cronenberg, he eliminates any temptation of embellishing the film with those shots of blasts and shootings. He gets to the point and I think that what you've said, that the violence in this film is "dry", is the best way to define it. It's real violence, not one you enjoy looking at because you like the wrapper. I think that when you see the movie you don't find the entertaining and spectacular violence, but, let me say it once again, it's the dry and certainly unpleasant one.
It's strange to see you in a film like this after having done Lord of the Rings.
Well, to tell the truth, without Lord of the Rings I would never have had the chance of working with David and probably, I wouldn't have been able to do Alatriste with Tano (Díaz Yanes) either, so I'm very grateful to the trilogy of the Rings for permitting me to do all that.
You didn't join the project immediately.
No, the fact is that when they sent me the script I didn't really like it, so I didn't show too much interest in doing it. Afterwards I learned Cronenberg was going to direct it and had a meeting with him. Since the first time we talked I realized it was going to be easy to fit in because we both shared the same motivations and we agreed on the changes that must be done to the script.
Cronenberg himself has said that he added the sex scenes that appear in the film. Do you think they are important for the story?
Of course, because in the end A History of Violence is, more than anything, the story of a family. In order to understand that story you have to know those details. The relations between a couple are often a show of strength, so it's indispensable to take into account every nuance.
How was it to work with Cronenberg?
David is a director who works a lot with the actors, with the look, with gestures. He is an extraordinarily talented director and he loves to talk to the actors. In fact, during the two months that preceded the filming I talked to him every single day and that was a way of realizing what kind of director he is. The best thing is I have always been a big fan of his cinema, so during this time of promotion when we are having lunch or dinner together, or when I sit next to him on the plane, I feel I'm a very fortunate guy because I can ask him thousands of things about his movies, questions that everybody would like to ask him. It's great.
You have insisted in every possible way that this film wasn't a metaphor of the current state of the U.S.
Well, what I've exactly said is that this isn't only a film about the U.S., but it's applicable to any part of the world. I think it's absurd to think that the Americans have the patrimony of violence. It's true, in the U.S. there are many weapons and a lot of problems, but there are also problems in Spain and France, because violence is intrinsically related to the human being, and unfortunately it's something the human being is quite accustomed to.
Many people don't know that besides being an actor, you write and publish poetry, short stories, you paint, you sculpt...Do you have time to do all those things?
Well, it's more and more complicated, but I do those things whenever I can. I love life and people, and with that in mind you can be inspired anywhere in the world, so that's what I try to do. As for Perceval Press (his publishing house) I try to devote as much time as possible to it, but it has been very complicated lately.