Viggo Mortensen Interview at the Rome International Film Festival
10 November 2008
He is one of the best actors of his generation, a sex symbol but also an eclectic artist who loves photography, painting and poetry, and speaks Italian, too!
© New Line Cinema/Warner Brothers.
Viggo Mortensen was one of the few real personalities of the just finished Rome International Film Festival.
He was the main character of the western Appaloosa, maybe the best movie of an event which has lost the soul and the benefit it had in the Veltroni-Bettini era, showing an ensemble of poor movies, among which rare gems appeared (Baksy from Kazakistan, several French comedies, the British The Duchess and Easy Virtue), with too many Italian movies (only two of any value, L'orizzonte degli eventi by Daniele Vicari and Galantuomini by Edoardo Winspeare with a good performance by Donatella Finocchiaro) and a falling audience attendance in spite of the teenagers crazy for High School Musical 3.
Mortensen, famous for The Lord Of The Rings by Peter Jackson and A History of Violence and Eastern Promises by David Cronenberg, plays the deputy of Ed Harris, who is also the director of the movie set in 1882, both classical in its form and modern in the characters, with some well-defined female roles. The main female character (a widowed pianist who cannot stay alone and always bonds herself to the "boss stallion") is Renée Zellweger, while the bad guy is a very good Jeremy Irons.
Mortensen was also the protagonist of the less successful Good by Vicente Amorim, based on the play by C.P. Taylor, playing a literature professor who approaches Nazism in Germany in the '30s.
"I liked the story about men and unhappiness" the actor told us. "It is set in a time of change at the end of an age, a time of endless chances, the rules were changing and the people got old. My character has to adapt himself to the changes, he wonders what to do about the obstacles he's facing."
And with Ed Harris?
"He is a friend, we knew each other on the set with Cronenberg and we got on very well. I knew he was a person focusing on the details, so I trusted him. To be directed by an actor is good, because he pays more attention to the details. But the really important thing is that the movie is successful, well made."
The female characters are deeper than the ones that are usually in westerns.
"Yes, they are interesting because they are unusual. And not only the Zellweger character, but also the one of the saloon woman. It is a classical western with more attention to the character's behaviour, to the details, the characters are up-to-date. There is a parity relationship between man and woman and it is very rare that two men speak about friendship in a western."
Appaloosa is not politically correct.
"We tried to reproduce the age, gathering information, looking at the pictures of that time. People acted that way but the Wild West age was coming to an end and they went towards more justice, more 'civilization', things were changing. The movie doesn't give you any justification, it only shows how things were going."
Image Larry Horricks.
© Good Films.
In Good you wear a SS uniform, instead.
"I'd already played a Nazi in a play, but wearing the SS uniform in the first day of shooting bothered me. I thought it was hot or maybe the tiredness, instead it was the bad sensation which that suit gave to me. It was the legacy of what the Danish part of my family, that suffered the Nazi occupation, passed on to me.
"Even here I've tried not to judge, but to show how a common person can be involved in this mechanism.
"It's not a movie about great events, but about the common people.
"I asked myself many times what I would have done in those shoes. And what I have to do now in my life. I believe that the choices we make day by day are very important. Every government, even the most democratic one, tries to make us feel unsure, like a single person doesn't mean anything at all, but we do mean something and we have to be aware of this.
"If, as I hope, Obama will be elected President, we have to remind him that he must make good choices day by day.
"The politicians must be controlled, we cannot devolve all the power for four or five years. I was really disappointed in 2004, when the American people elected Bush again, after the gerrymandering he did in Florida in 2000."
Last edited: 19 November 2008 05:54:04