The Lord Of The Rings Interviews: Viggo Mortensen - Aragorn

Source: Empire

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Are you glad?

I kind of am. But it's also kinda sad. It'll probably take a while to realise that I think. But, you know, if it didn't have an ending, if all these things weren't gonna fade away it wouldn't be as unique an experience. It's like the book in a lot of ways, as much as there's triumph at the end, but it's also about death, you know? And how it affects you and those you love. Everyone is changed, everyone is damaged a little bit, everyone gets scars in their life, just like we do. That's, I think, one of the things that appeals to me most about the story is that it doesn't answer every question. It's not a simple, happy ending. There's happiness, but there's also sorrow.

So how did you go about creating the Aragorn character?

Well I read the book, and I listened to Peter and the writers but basically took what I got from the book and the scripts and the experience, as well as some of the foundations of Tolkien's book - particularly Northern European literature and mythology. I think that's one of the reasons why this story and these characters appeal to people so much is because the story itself is the same story that people have been telling each other for thousands of years. What's interesting about this story is it doesn't have a sugar-coated ending. It's not simple. And it's not about only one hero; there are many heroes in this as there are principal characters. You know, they all are faced with a challenge. They all have a dark moment and it's in the effort to overcome this that their lives are improved. But it doesn't come without a price. All of these things are storylines that any nation could identify with.

Have you seen the extended version of Two Towers?

Yeah. It really adds a lot. It's the details that I remember as a moviegoer, it's those things that I value. As impressive as the battle of Helm's Deep is in The Two Towers, it's those little touches. You watch it and you feel like you're eavesdropping on something that happened a long time ago. It's real. And without those details the movie's still good, but you don't have the attention to the relationships. I hope the long versions of both those movies will be the ones that historically people watch and remember.

How were the reshoots?

I've done several scenes that involve, for example, Legolas, and he's not here. He's usually been represented by a piece of tape or a tennis ball, or golf ball. Or a little X on the matte-box. Minas Tirith, the whole city has been a tennis ball a few times this week. I've done scenes with the whole Army of the Dead and the King of the Dead, and all kinds of people, who are bits of tape and tennis balls. So when you have a scene where there's actually a full room of people it makes all the difference.

Do you think Peter Jackson has improved on Tolkien?

No, he's just interpreted it. Nor would I say that Tolkien improved on Beowulf or any number of stories. It's just that he's kind of dusted it off and breathed some new life into it and driven a bit of his own imagination. And that's the same thing that Peter's done. Essentially he's taken that book and revived it for people at the beginning of the 21st Century - just as Tolkien made those stories from the 12th Century and earlier interesting to people in the middle of the 20th Century. It's reinvention, and you have to do that. If you don't, then it's dead. Rather than trying to say whether he's done better or worse than Tolkien, I would say that he's lived up to the task, and the task is to make old stories relevant to new audiences.

What do you think people relate to mainly in The Lord Of The Rings? Do you have any theories?

People can relate it to their own lives because none of the characters is perfect. All of the characters have doubts, obstacles... some of the people don't survive... some do better than others... and the end of the book, the end of the trilogy, isn't the end of the story. There are consequences from what has happened for everyone. Most are wiser, but none are unharmed as a result of the experience. So I think people can relate to that, and how it doesn't shy away from unpleasant things, like death and suffering and the scars of life. In a sense it doesn't really matter whether the ring reaches Mordor or not; it doesn't matter whether anybody survives until the end from the Fellowship - it's what happens to people as a result of making an effort to work together unselfishly.
Last edited: 25 July 2010 09:57:40
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