© New Line Cinema/Warner Brothers.
Is Viggo Mortensen, best known for the movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings, giving up acting? It is a fact that the actor has always been wary of his fame.
Viggo Mortensen loves rituals. He never changes his habits, no matter where he goes. For example, he enters the villa in Deauville - made available by the French top jeweler Cartier - in bare feet, as if he is in his own living room.
In his right hand, he is holding a cup with his favorite beverage: maté - an herbal drink from Argentina, the country where he spent the majority of his childhood. He also remembered to bring a silver straw, the bombilla.
The actor explains why he always behaves the same way, no matter where he is in the world. "In this business you're traveling half the time. Sometimes I feel like a world traveler who doesn't know where he'll sleep the next day. I am exaggerating a little, but I do value my habits, so I can quickly feel at home. If I don't, it takes me too long to adapt to strange surroundings. That's very important for an actor. That way he can more quickly concentrate on his role."
Mortensen (50) was a gifted actor with memorable supporting roles for years. His status as a star and sex symbol rose quickly thanks to his part in The Lord of the Rings, in which he played Lord Aragorn. Ever since, the son of a Danish entrepreneur cannot walk casually down the street anymore. With his tall frame and Scandinavian looks, he stands out everywhere.
Also in Deauville, the fans quickly discover Mortensen. During almost the entire interview, they are outside the villa chanting: Viggo! Viggo! Viggo! He patiently signs autographs after the interview is over. The same ritual repeats itself as Mortensen, with the flag of his favorite Argentinean soccer team around his shoulders, attends the premiere of the western Appaloosa.
Mortensen is supposed to discuss this particular role. He is happy to do so, because he is very proud. Especially of his colleague, friend, and co-star Ed Harris, who also directed and produced the film.
"Ed has had to move heaven and earth to get this movie made," tells Viggo after taking a sip of his maté . "Westerns are a neglected genre in Hollywood these days. There is not much money in it. When Ed approached me, I immediately said "yes." I respect his courage and I liked the story."
In Appaloosa, Mortensen plays Everett Hitch, the right-hand man of Virgil Cole (Ed Harris). Both men built a reputation as ruthless crime fighters whose methods are sometimes worse than the crime. Their friendship is tested when a woman, a piano player with little talent (Renée Zellweger), gets involved and manages to charm Virgil.
Apart from the story and the character, Mortensen was also very excited about the opportunity to ride a horse in Appaloosa. The actor is a avid rider and even bought the horses he rode in his previous films The Lord of the Rings and Hidalgo. He benefited from his experience in this western.
"I have enough horses for now. I don't see the animals often enough as it is because I travel constantly. For Appaloosa I brought my own horse. I bought him after the filming of Hidalgo."
Mortensen was also quite taken with the enormous shotgun he totes around the entire movie. The weapon became like an extension of his body. "I'm not fascinated by firearms, but because Everett carries that shotgun everywhere, I had to develop a special bond with it. I also took it to bed, just to get used to having it around."
From these words, it is obvious that Viggo Mortensen takes his profession very seriously. An example is his role as lifeguard of Russian origin in Eastern Promises, the thriller by David Cronenberg. Although he has a talent for languages by nature - Mortensen is fluent in English, Spanish, French, and Danish - he also wanted to master the Russian language before getting in front of the camera.
He studied the language for months before he decided to go to Moscow, partly on his own dime. "I had it pretty much down, but I wanted to speak Russian with an English accent, because my character lived in London for many years. To accomplish that, I wanted the opinions from real Russians on my accent."
This shows Mortensen doesn't take shortcuts in his profession. Still, acting is not the only passion in his life. He writes poetry, and he is a decent jazz musician and a photographer. For many years after his divorce, he also took care of his son Henry, who convinced him after much hesitation to play Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. Oh, and he is the publisher of up-and-coming authors as well. It is not surprising that Mortensen is not anxiously pursuing a Hollywood career anymore. He does not want his life to be defined by one aspect of his many talents. Recently he hinted that he'd had enough of acting. In particular, his continuous traveling was an increasing obstacle according to the Danish giant.
In Deauville, Mortensen was already considering his future. "For years I've realized that life has more to offer than just an existence in front of the camera in a foreign country. I really don't have enough time to do everything adequately. It's not unthinkable that I'll take a long break, but in this business you never know."