Appaloosa - 5 Questions For Viggo Mortensen
16 January 2009
The pair from A History of Violence are back. The actor (he is also the editor of Perceval Press) speaks about his journey into the Old West: "I do the cowboy with irony."
© New Line Cinema/Warner Brothers.
Why did you accept Appaloosa?
Because you can't say no to someone like Ed Harris. I liked the book and I wanted to work again with Ed, after A History of Violence.
The idea of interpreting a western wasn't exciting for you?
I am not so fond of the genre: I care more about the actors than about the film. It's difficult to find good performances in western films, they're rarely "art": I like Gary Cooper in High Noon and Man of the West, Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall in Open Range, Peter Fonda in the latest 3:10 to Yuma. I am not a big fan of Unforgiven: I like the film as long as the violence does not become excessive and overwhelming. At the end of Appaloosa, I was more interested in the relationship of the two, so dependent and nevertheless different, it almost bursts into irony.
Is it true that you wished you could refuse the part after having seen yourself in the costume?
It's not that it didn't please me; I mean, I am not that conceited. But I felt rather strange; they made me grow a big goatee, the hairstyle. And I didn't feel comfortable with that gun.
And what made you change your mind?
The hundreds of photos and drawings the art direction guys showed me. Images of men in 1882, the period of our film's story, they'd returned home because, 25 years after the end of the civil war and the battles with the Indians, it was the age to return. Or if they didn't then they looked somewhere else to find a place to stay and to build their own house: that's what happens to our Virgil and Everett, the two have become a duo travelling the West and are now coming to Appaloosa, New Mexico. They claim the sheriff's star to stop the evil landowner Bragg, interpreted by Jeremy Irons. He's someone who has done what he's wanted up until this moment. Initially there was no law, now Virgil obtains, first, carte blanche and then becomes the sheriff who is respected. And I am on his flank.
Everett in Appaloosa, Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, the Russian gangster in Eastern Promises or the father in the upcoming apocalyptic tale The Road by Cormac McCarthy. What do they have in common?
I like characters who find themselves at the brink of change. Everett is in the centre of the transition from anarchy to civil law in America. My characters always stand for crossing a ford. Years ago, Everett studied at West Point but I love imagining him as the black sheep of the family because he has gone West, looking for adventure and he has found it. In the book he says: I'd been in West Point, like my father, but I found it boring. While the hairstyle, gun, saddlebag, riding positions are based on the photos of that period; it was me who added the dandy touches to him; the gilet, the Victorian manners, formalistic as well as brutal, he can't erase them.
Last edited: 24 January 2009 15:00:05