Aragorn is back. But this time he has the sword and cape of a mercenary in 17th Century Spain, Captain Alatriste. A sombre and bitter hero, and sombre are the passions of the actor: "...graveyards, dead animals, the memories of one who died..."
Italian Vanity Fair, 06.27.07.
VF: Excuse me, Mr Mortensen, I know that some time ago, after A History Of Violence, you said that you wouldn't act again?
VM: Actually, that's what I wanted. Also because I was very annoyed about the fact that Cronenberg hadn't been awarded a prize. That was really unjust, I think.
VF: Don't tell me that you pay attention to things like prizes?
VM: Winston Churchill, a guy whom I don't like very much, but he was a clever man, once said: "Don't ever ask for a medal, but accept it on all occasions."
If in our world you received a medal for popularity on the Internet, then Viggo would be a much decorated person. I suggest to the ladies, especially those who are a little depressed or who have by their side men who are as fascinating as a towel, to go and look on YouTube at "Bad to the bone - Viggo Mortensen", a video in which, to the music of George Thorogood and the Destroyers, the ex-Aragorn of Lord Of The Rings shows all his unquestionable sex-appeal. It only lasts 4 minutes 52 seconds, but it's very good for the health.
From 22nd June he will be in the theatres with his new movie The Destiny Of A Warrior - Alatriste, the latest movie of an actor who is not only an actor but also an artist, a poet, a photographer, an editor, a musician, an activist, a good multilingual speaker (you can choose from Spanish, Danish, English and Italian), a divorced father of an 18 year-old son and, seemingly, single for years.
The one identity that Viggo Mortensen will never wear is the one of a typical movie star. Every interview with him wrong-foots you. And is wrong-footing also his character in Alatriste. Very different from how he appears on YouTube. In the movie he is very, very thin; he looks older and has an exhausted face (quite the contrary to the YouTube version!).
Captain Alatriste is heroic, but he is also a mercenary. He is in love, but he is luckless. And there is a great bitterness within his heart. Alatriste is very different from Aragorn, and the Spain of the 17th Century is very different from the imaginary world created by Tolkien. It's clear that Viggo Mortensen wanted to get away from the character that gave him success.
But first of all he wanted to help Spanish cinema. With its 24 million Euros, this movie is the most expensive in the history of Spanish cinema, but it is also the one that has been seen the most during the year 2006. Based on the writing of Arturo Perez Reverte (author of six novels, only four of which are published in Italy), it was directed by Agustin Diaz Yanes, who confessed that without Viggo they could not have done the movie.
VF: You have three other movies in the can?
VM: Yes, I haven't kept that promise! I will continue to act. David Cronenberg called me for Eastern Promises and then I will do an interesting movie about Nazism in Germany and also a beautiful western directed by Ed Harris. So, here I am again!
VF: In Alatriste there are some old values: pride, honour. Our heroes also relinquish a great treasure. What do you think about money?
VM: I think that, unfortunately, in life everything has a price. To get rich means to lose something. It's inevitable.
VF: You give a lot of your time to Perceval Press. What is your latest stuff?
VM: As always, something depressing. Pictures of graveyards, dead animals, desolate landscapes. I've collected them in a book with the title I Forget You For Ever, a ridiculous sentence that I read on a bus when I was in Iran. It forced me to think about the connection between us and the memory of those who have gone...
VM: Have you ever kissed a corpse?
VF: What do you mean? The answer's no!
VM: I have. The corpse of my grandmother, Anna, who I was very attached to. She died in Denmark, she was 92 years old. I arrived from the United States when she had already passed away. I kissed her. She was so cold. I remained near her all night, lying on a sofa close to her coffin. I was sorry because I didn't have my camera. We should take pictures of the dead, it's a way of getting used to the idea. Don't look at me that way. It's not as terrible as it seems.
VF: What did she teach you?
VM: She was always very watchful about details and if someone was telling a story and they were not accurate or precise she would correct them immediately. And she said: "Be careful! The devil is in the details."