This is a transcript of Viggo's interview on the Hill-Man Morning Show when he was stumping for Dennis Kucinich.
Dennis Kucinich Campaign 1.6.08.
A lot of the Hollywood people they do go out and stump for their candidates certainly...I don't know that...he maybe one of them but I haven't heard a lot of them out talking about Kucinich so that's certainly exciting and we had Mr Kucinich on earlier this morning. Viggo are you there?
Viggo: I am. How are you?
Viggo: Good morning.
We were just talking about a highlight reel of some of your best work. Eastern Promises which just came out on DVD was one of my favorite movies of the past year. It was fantastic.
Viggo: Well, thank you. It's an honor to work with him twice. A lot of actors would like to work with David Cronenberg even once but I've been pretty lucky I think.
I mentioned A Perfect Murder and Kevin really got all over me about that.
Viggo: Why? You don't care for that one? (laughing)
I didn't care for that one too much.
Viggo: Well, we're not here for movies and I wouldn't have talked about movies if you hadn't. I was just being polite.
Now what you have to understand is that you're out there stumping for Mr Kucinich because you're a movie star and that's why...
Viggo: No, no, that's not why I'm stumping for Dennis Kucinich. I'm stumping for him because I'm an American citizen who likes to inform himself, always have, and I am interested in the political process of this country. If you don't show an interest, if you don't get involved, you can't really complain about it afterwards if you've got a president that sucks. Can you?
That's why I'm doing it. The fact that, yes I am an artist known for working in the movies and I've been very lucky to work with some very good directors and fans have been kind to me and gone to my movies, yes that does interest, for example, you who are talking to me...and if I was just some guy off the street then, yeah, maybe I wouldn't be on a radio show right now. Probably definitely not so I understand that.
Correct. So I should correct myself now and say something like we were interested in talking to you because...
Well I was interested in talking to him because I'm someone who's getting behind Kucinich.
Viggo: Good for you. Good for you. You know there's a thing that I've seen and this is one of the reasons that I'm here and I took the red-eye the day before yesterday because when I saw the day before yesterday he was excluded, not for the first time, from a national...nationally televised debate of the Democratic candidates where you're really going to hear ideas and the new word of the past week, or since Iowa...you're gonna hear change, you're gonna hear freshness, you know. You didn't hear anything other than as Dennis described it, a monologue in four tones from Obama, Clinton, Edwards and Richardson. Frankly, you know, they sort of skimmed the surface, took the best sounding bits and pieces from...basically from Dennis' platform ...the things he's been hammering home for years. Whether it be about...well they didn't really touch a lot of it because they're afraid to get in trouble or make a misstep. But when he talks about health care, when he talks about the Patriot Act and...you know, his position on the Iraq invasion and ongoing occupation. His position on so many issues, they take the best sounding bits without any of the, you know, depth of it. And he's not allowed to be on there and I'm like "You know what? I'm going to go make some noise." Hopefully I'll help him more than I hurt him. You know, hopefully it's not a case where people say, "Ah, that dumb actor he's out there stumping for him, now I'm definitely not voting for the guy."
But I gotta say walking around yesterday in the streets of Manchester with him, and Concord...other places. I saw so many people, so many men and women, not just people from New Hampshire, people from neighbouring states, people from as far away as Florida, California, coming up to him, looking him in the eye, some literally with tears in their eyes, so much passion in their voices saying, "Dennis you are the candidate that I've been waiting for. The information that I get from you. Your position on the issues, your honesty, your forthrightness, the fact that you speak truth to power in the same way whether you're in Alabama, California, Iowa New Hampshire. Doesn't matter where you go, you're honest, you are fearless as you were when you were mayor of Cleveland. As you have been for twelve years as congressman from Ohio. You are awesome." The problem is that most of these people are wearing Obama buttons and Clinton buttons, Edwards buttons, so forth. I finally went up to one of these people and said, "All due respect to you, you know, your apparent candidate of choice in the presidential race, why are you wearing that button if you feel so strongly?" "Well I can't waste my vote." You know, that's that disconnect. Maybe you guys can explain to me why this always happens in this country. It doesn't make sense logically. I mean who decides? Is it the media that decides? The newspaper or the TV that says "He's got no chance, don't waste your vote." Who decides? Who's voting - them or you? If you feel a candidate is great is the logical conclusion "I can't vote for them because he's so great." Or is the logical conclusion "I must vote for him or her."
I think people like...some people like to align themselves with a winner and they like to think that they don't want to vote for somebody if they don't have a chance of winning, but I agree with you Viggo Mortensen, I think that you ought to vote for the person that you think is the right person for the job whether they can win or not.
Viggo: Yeah and when people say "yes but within reason" - no, forget within reason. Life is too short, the country's in too much of a mess. It's too important. What is this "within reason" or "I gotta vote for the best chance to win." That's like saying "I gotta pick the best of the worst." I mean, what are you talking about? It's free. You got a Cadillac, a brand new Cadillac or whatever you like best, and you've got an '82, you know, Toyota Compact with a lot of rust on it. Let's say it's a car from Massachusetts or New Hampshire. It's got a lot of rust on the underside, and either one is free, you can have your pick. What are you gonna pick?
You're saying that Dennis Kucinich is the Cadillac.
Viggo: Absolutely, absolutely, if he had a fraction...
You're calling Hillary the rusted-out '82 Toyota.
Viggo: Not Hillary, ALL of them except Kucinich . By comparison really if he had a fraction of the national television and radio and print time...New York Times, you know, he might just as well not exist. If he had a fraction of the time for his ideas to be heard by the public. If he was on those debates, just a fraction, let's say he had 5%, 10% of the time that Clinton, Edwards and Obama regularly get nationally every day all day long...he would blow them out of the water, just on common sense, on the issues. It would work. I have to say that Fox... I'm not a huge fan by any means of a lot of their programs, most of them, and of their political slant but I have to commend them for having him on their show repeatedly and, just as much, or more so, him for having the courage. He's the only one of the democratic candidates that goes on there. That has the guts to go on there.
Well I don't know why the others wouldn't.
Viggo: You know why, I'll tell you why because if I was a Fox guy interviewing them I'd say how come you're not running for the Republican presidential nomination since your ideas seem so in line with the Republican platforms. That's why. They can't really do that with Kucinich and when they mess with him, or try to, he can parry and he can talk with them and he's very straight with them. He's not...he doesn't present himself in some different way, he doesn't suddenly become a holy roller, you know, mainstream sounding guy for them. The thing is he's not that radical, he is mainstream he speaks to what most people are concerned about and he does it honestly.
Have you have you always been a Democrat? Have you voted Democrat in the past?
Viggo: Yeah. I'm open...I'm open to guys like Ron Paul on the Republican side I think his ideas about foreign policy are pretty right on. He's quite courageous and he is ethical on his stance. That's probably scary too so that's probably why he's not on the debate last night on Fox. I think, I mean, I only half kiddingly said to Dennis yesterday. Go...ask to be on the Republican debate panels. You know, who cares? He's not afraid to go on Fox. I'm sure he's not afraid to be in a Republican debate. I mean the other night ABC had six Republicans, they only had four Democrats, I don't know what happened to the other two chairs. But, you know, if they've got a little more room on the Republican side...well put him there. He's not...people talk a lot about the fact that he's not the tallest man in the world, he's not going to take up that much space. I'm sure he wouldn't mind standing if there's not enough chairs and he would kick their ass too frankly. But the problem is access. People are not getting access to the real information and they're being told, they're being packaged this idea of change, fresh candidate, you know, Obama is a candidate of change. You know what? Very limited information you're getting from him really. You're getting passion, you're getting good delivery, he's a handsome, you know, young candidate. That's it as far as I'm concerned, you know, so far. It's nice...nice passion, nice speech making, let's see him equal time with Kucinich talking about substantive issues. No comparison!
When you go out do you worry about any kind of a Hollywood backlash when you're out stumping for a candidate?
Viggo: In what way? Like it's gonna hurt me getting work?
Not you, no, like the people might say "Oh great, here's Viggo Mortensen, what does he know?"
Viggo: I've gotten that before. When I said in Fall 2002 "definitely we're gonna go and invade Iraq." "What are you crazy?" "Yeah, definitely we're going to go and invade Iraq." When it's in the fashion pages of the New York Times the new uniforms for the guys and girls who are going. You know when you see Richard Perle every Sunday morning, Wolfowitz and all those guys and Cheney every morning trying to tell us a pack of lies for all Fall of 2002, we're going. It's a done deal, it's a movie that's greenlit. But when I said that I got so much crap. It was like "Who do you think you are?" But this is nothing new in our country, in the Sixties during the Vietnam war, you know, anybody who said anything against what foreign policy was...it was like "You're a plumber, you're a professor at a university, you're a student, you're a kid, shut up. Let those who are in government govern." Well that kind of flies in the face of what this country is supposed to be about. It's our government and it's by us, it's for us, of us. We decide who's there and people forget this, just like they forget that they can vote for who they think is the best candidate.
They're in there because...and if they don't do the job we can complain about it and if we really don't like it we can throw them out and if we really don't like any of it we can have a revolution. It's in the constitution. And people forget that it's...I'm an actor, so what? I might be something else. Before I was an actor I was interested in politics. I like to inform myself, I'm involved. I'm not going to be one of those people who go "Jeez, I wish I'd been involved because now I don't like the way it's going." Get out of your...get out of your own butthole people and vote for who you like. Stop being such a whiner.
OK Viggo Mortensen thank you for joining us.
Viggo: Thank you guys. Thank you.