Viggo Mortensen: "What I do in private belongs only to myself"
By Reyes Gonzalez - excerpt translated by Ollie, Rio, Sage and Zooey
23 January 2010
He's back being the man of the moment, since on the 5th of February he premieres in The Road, the anticipated adaptation of the apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy.
Image Macall Polay.
© 2929/Dimension Films.
The post-apocalyptic world depicted by Cormac McCarthy in The Road brings together Charlize Theron and Viggo Mortensen in the film adaptation helmed by John Hillcoat. The star of The Lord of the Rings makes a journey through a devastated America with the only aim of saving his son. The actor, who has decided to establish himself in Madrid, travelled to Los Angeles to promote the film which will open in Spain next February 5. We'll have to wait for that date to again enjoy his work since he recently had to cancel for the second time his theatrical debut citing family problems.
The Road must have left you physically exhausted.
The role demanded it. I'm all for making an effort; if we hadn't been shooting in winter, the result wouldn't have been as good. I'm of the opinion that no matter how much you can visually create with the computer, nothing equals reality since the actors are not feeling the same as in a real location. Even Kodi Smit-McPhee, the actor who portrays my son, told me one day, "It is easier to be cold than to pretend you are." And it is absolutely true; the low temperatures affected our relationship since it forced me to be much more protective.
What got you the most about this story?
Above all, that in the most extreme situations a human being stops seeking excuses for his behaviour. I love the lesson on life offered by the script: the father learns from the child that there's really no reason not to treat the people around you in the best possible way. Oddly enough, such a tragic story leaves you with a feeling of hope.
Did being a father yourself influence the way you played your character?
It helped me, especially, to understand the character. During the filming, I thought my son would have acted like the character of The Boy. Any father can identify with the film or with the book because the instinct is to protect our children from any danger.
Recently you turned fifty, an age that tends to cause a crisis for men.
Yes, everybody reminds me, but no, I am not going through any kind of menopause, at least consciously. I don't feel different than I did a year ago.
Let me ask you something: Have you discovered the Fountain of Youth? You don't seem to look your age...
(He laughs) The light in this room flatters me. I suppose I owe it to my family's Nordic genes, because I have not slept at all in the past few days. I lead a very irregular life.
You have time for writing poems, painting, taking photographs...What are you involved in right now?
My existence is utter madness, although I try to maintain control over it. As a kid I was already very active, explored here and there. Now I want to stop, relax, get close to those that make up my personal circle and determine what is going to be my next step in life. We actors are planning all the time; right now I want to devote myself to travel and to listening to others, not talk so much about me.
It's hard to keep track, jazz, photography. Is it a question of non-conformity?
I enjoy learning. It's a part of my traveler's nature to ask questions and learning is part of me. I have moved a lot... And also, I like to imagine the lives of people that I meet in my travels. Every time I get in a taxi I have to ask the driver how his name is pronounced and where he comes from... That way, I have a story for my collection, and then there are many of them that I use for my characters. It's a positive consequence of many trips; it helps me as an actor because observing, and learning, looking at what happens in the world offers me different points of view from my own.
Being so curious about other people's lives, it's surprising that you keep yours so far from indiscreet eyes...
I consider myself a well-mannered person, but I don't want to have anyone enter my personal territory because what I do in private belongs only to myself.
Fame came to you late in your career...
It was so strange; I'd been making movies for twenty-two years; sometimes I managed to get to the end of the month and other times I didn't, and I confess that was something that never bothered me. I never wanted to be more famous than I was, or to have people stop me in the street; I was just doing my job. That's how it was until I filmed The Lord of the Rings and everything started to change. One day, when I was living in a small town in Spain, I thought, "Do I really need to go out in the street?" I've been very fortunate, I have to admit.
What can you tell us about The Hobbit?
I'd rather finish my work than have another actor do it. In principle, I'm interested, but I'd like to see The Hobbit portrayed in keeping with Tolkien's spirit. Guillermo del Toro has personality, is intelligent and possibly he will turn out to be as stubborn as Peter Jackson. I don't want to have everything end up turning into a big circus, where there are a lot of people writing in changes at the last minute. For me, The Fellowship of the Ring was the most faithful to Tolkien, the most subtle in terms of narrative and interpretation. With the second movie, it was drifting more toward a huge production with big special effects. It was a big commercial success, but if I'd been in charge, I would have concentrated less on the effects and more on the characters. I would have given more dialogue to the secondary ones and not focused everything on the heroes. In some ways, there was much more balance in the first one, since all the races of Middle Earth appeared. It dealt more with personal relationships...
Do you know the reason why Alatriste never made it to theaters in the United States?
No, and it seems like a shame to me because it's a great, really beautiful movie. It hasn't even come out on DVD. I truly believe it's a good movie with great actors, the best in Spain, and, also, it's visually stunning.
Last edited: 31 January 2010 13:51:00
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