Quotable Viggo

Quotable Viggo 2020

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Quotable Viggo: 11 July 2020

I’m lucky that I have a nice bit of woodland near me. It’s small but somehow feels immense when I walk in it. Trees have that effect on you, and I spend a lot of time there – especially lately - just enjoying the light and the leaves, the rustle of small creatures in the undergrowth and the sound of birds. Viggo is also a man at home in the forest (or occasionally lost in it…) being a woodsman through and through. As he says below, when things are tough “it is enough to walk in the forest to immediately feel better.”

© Karen McDonald.

‘I believe that I'm a man of the hills, the woods, the angry sea, a somewhat solitary guy …’

[I]Viggo Mortensen in Algiers
For It To Rain
By Viggo Mortensen and Fabián Casas - translated by Ollie and Zoe
19 October 2013

He smells of woodsmoke, as though he’s just returned from some manly pursuit like chopping logs in a forest. Again, highly possible. He does have a home in the remote mountains of Idaho, surrounded by woods. In fact the scent is wafting from his cup of tea.

Viggo Mortensen is lord of all things
Chitra Ramaswamy
The Scotsman
24 May 2013

“We rented a hotel room for him, but he never stayed there. We just knew he was in the forest somewhere. That kind of commitment really shows in his work.”

Captain Fantastic Producer Lynette Howell Taylor
Viggo Mortensen
Cannes Press Kit
May 2016

“I am a happy man when I am not tied down,” he says, taking a sip of maté. “I don’t have a hidden self, I am not prone to depression. If I feel unwell, it is enough to walk in the forest to immediately feel better.”

Viggo Mortensen, Beautiful Savage
Richard Gianorio
Le Figaro
26 September 2008

Like the philosopher Thoreau, Viggo likes to lose himself in the woods, into the wild, in a trip into nature to find beauty and freedom, and to find the essence of life, as he explains with a deep, quiet voice, between long pauses and a cigarette rolled by himself.

Viggo Mortensen, The Photographer Of Dreams
By Giovanni Valerio - translated by Cindalea
norama First
July 2008

Wandering around the gallery in bare feet sporting a Lord of the Rings shirt, Mortensen describes how one series of photographs on show were a bit of a fluke. Lost 1,2,3 and 4, he jokingly calls them, were taken when he was geographically challenged in the bush on the West Coast one night. The photographs were snapped so that the flash might give him light to get his bearings.

"I eventually had to lie down under a tree for a while till the moon came over me and I could figure out where I was."

Viggo Mortensen at the Massey exhibition, NZ.
Viggo Says Thanks in Pictures
by Bess Mason
Dominion Post, 2003

‘I also like trees in their own right, to be honest, and photographing them is a way of paying them respect and remembering them.’

Skovbo Exhibition Brochure
May/June 2008

“The Danish woods look like Tolkien's, they are the kind that doesn't look dangerous, but if you walk alone by night in the forests of Denmark, you can feel the energies of the past. I felt that already as a child, back then when I played with swords there outside my uncle's farm, played and felt like a Viking.”

Viggo Mortensen
The American Dane
By Susanne Johansson - Translation by Majken Steen Thomassen
Berlingske Tidende
28 November 2001

... I went fishing for the afternoon in the lovely mountains bordering the state of Colorado, in a wonderful river, surrounded by a landscape out of a John Ford movie... I caught a couple of brown trout and a brook trout. Since I wasn´t hungry and had nowhere to keep them until dinner, I let them go. I almost always release what I catch. Tomorrow I will be tired for the shoot, because tonight I will have to drive several hours to reach the next hotel, but I´m happy. The forest, the rivers, being alone in those places, it´s like food to me.

The Past Is In Everything
By Viggo Mortensen and Fabián Casas - translated by Ollie and Zoe
19 August 2014

“He has a cabin that looks like it’s out of Lord Of The Rings”, says Currie. “It literally has a tree growing up in the middle of the living room. We had a lot of pizza and watched a lot of Argentinian soccer, drank a few rum and Cokes, and saw a pile of grizzly bears.”

The unlikely trio who brought Oscar contender 'Green Book' to life
Charles Gant
Screen Daily
18 January 2019

“Every tree is something special, just like people are. All different, but... I look at them as I look at people. I get along well with most trees. I don't get into arguments with them, and if I do it's probably my own fault. If I don't watch where I'm going when I'm in the forest, it comes back and smacks me in the nose, and I only have myself to blame.”

RUV Interview
Skovbo Exhibition, Iceland
Translated by Mums
30 May 2008

Even Mortensen's memories of early childhood are deeply spiritual. He tells me about the time he crawled into the woods and fell asleep. "I was sleeping under a tree, and it was very peaceful," he says. "And then a dog started barking, and that's how my parents found me."

You are always escaping, I say.

Yeah, he says. He calls his mother - on my cell phone, because he doesn't have one - to double-check his recollection. "Hi, it's Viggo. Sorry to be calling so late," he says. "Oh shit. You're in the middle of it? That's funny. Is it the tape? [She was watching a tape of The Two Towers.] O.K., sorry, it's just a quick question and then I'll let you get back to what you're doing. Remember there were a couple of times I ran away? And the time the dog came and found me in the woods? How old was I then? About one and a half. O.K. But, anyway, the dog came and found me and I was sitting under a tree? Happy? Sleeping, right?"

Big look of consternation.

"I was sitting in the middle of the woods crying? I thought I was sleeping. Are you sure?"

Finding Viggo
By Alex Kuczynski
Vanity Fair magazine
January 2004

"I can only speak for myself, but I would go crazy if I couldn't get out of the city and go out into the forest for a little while."

Viggo Mortensen talks The Two Faces Of January, singing with Fassbender and throwing a nappy at Al Pacino
by Tom Ward
16 May 2014

Quotable Viggo: 5 July 2020

Well – we know there is one thing Viggo won’t have been doing much of over the last few months. Wearing a nice sharp suit. It must be a relief really, speaking as someone who has been living in comfy jogging pants since March, with the occasional nice top for the obligatory Zoom catch-ups. If any of you are missing those snazzy red-carpet outfits, here is a little reminder.

Image Frazer Harrison.
© Getty.

As Viggo Mortensen approaches from the wings of a London cinema lobby, we're agog to see he's wearing a suit. Onscreen, Mortensen often sports long mud-matted hair, casual duds (at best) and can often be found atop a horse. When we meet him, his haircut is tight, he's in a handsome grey check suit, and there's nary a nag to be seen.

Viggo Mortensen Talks Jauja
By Philip Bagnell
10 March 2015

'I'm not usually a suit person… You're lucky I'm wearing shoes!'

Viggo Q&A after accepting the Coolidge Award in Boston
Greendragon posting on TORn
6 March 2012

In the flesh, his inscrutability gives off an electric hum. He is soberly dressed - grey suit, sensible shirt - and speaks in hushed, gravelly tones. If you didn't know, and of course you do, you might mistake Mortensen for a visiting academic or a writer.

Understated A-lister Viggo Mortensen tells our reporter about his new cult hit 'Captain Fantastic' - and why it's impossible to be the perfect parent
by Ed Power
Irish Independent
31 August 2016

'I particularly liked the white linen suit that you see in the poster that Chester wears, and in a way that's another character in the movie because the journey of that beautiful cream-coloured linen suit, on the Acropolis in the sunshine in the beginning, this immaculate, perfect, fits perfectly, looks great. You see that suit at the very end of the story, and that suit's been through it, it's a bit torn, it's frayed, it's not as clean as it was, it's suffered almost as much as the man wearing the suit, and it's an interesting journey for that suit. It's interesting to see that sometimes there's an object or set of clothes that has a life of its own, and that's the case with that suit.'

Viggo Mortensen Talks The Two Faces Of January
Adam Miller
15 September 2014

‘There was one occasion where I had a fitting with him in Barcelona but Viggo had just come down with a fever and was completely delirious. He was sweating buckets and he confessed to his girlfriend afterwards that he hadn’t a clue what he was trying on, but he remained professional to the core. I wasn’t aware how bad he was until he confessed to me later that he could have been trying on bin bags for all he’d known.’

The Two Faces Of January
Steven Noble
Esquire Magazine

Viggo Mortensen surely wasn't just cast because he's a great actor; it's because no one can rock a 1960s cream linen suit quite like him.

Leigh Singer
19 May 2014

"It comes from a very good tailor in Boedo, in Buenos Aires. San Lorenzo de Almagro".

Viggo on being asked who tailored his Golden Globes suit
Mortensen highlights his Argentinian team at the Golden Globes
By E J Tamara - translated by Ollie, Rio and Zoe
16 January 2012

"In [Eastern Promises]," said Cronenberg, "Viggo was wearing Armani. We don't allow him on the street like that, because he can't carry off the class when he's being himself."

Mortensen, director discuss their noirish
Eastern Promises
By Dixie Reid, Sacramento Bee,
12 September 2007

Viggo Mortensen asked to have 6 extra copies of the Monday issue of Ekstra Bladet so that he could send them to his relatives in Denmark and they would be able to see him in his nice red suit at the Gala Premiere for Eastern Promises at the Imperial Cinema

My Heart Beats For Denmark
By Kim Kastrup - translated by Rosen
Ekstra Bladet
25 September 2007

Why, it's Aragorn Powers: International Middle-Earth Man of Mystery!

Comment on the Armani Red Suit worn at the Copenhagen
Eastern Promises Premier
Life&style Magazine
October 2007

Viggo Mortensen stacks his case and suit protector neatly in the corner of the room. The precision of the movement is entirely in keeping with an angular formation of razor cheekbones and sharp suit. We probably shouldn't be surprised the Danish-American-Argentine has this travelling thing down.

The Mad Men
Tara Brady
The Irish Times
10 February 2012

You looked sexy in The Lord Of The Rings...what's your favourite costume?

My birthday suit.

Now that is sexy, no wonder women love you...

If you say so.

60 Seconds With...Viggo Mortensen
December 2005

Quotable Viggo: 27 June 2020

With life reduced so much over the last few months it has been very hard not to focus on treats to cheer the day. And by treats, I mainly mean edible goodies. Especially because, for quite a while, the only time I left the house was to buy food while doing an absolutely massive survival shop. Quite a lot of chocolate found its way into the trolley (I’m sure Viggo would approve) along with other stuff that I normally never put in there. Thank goodness lockdown is easing because otherwise I would end up, to quote Viggo, ‘as fat as a tick’. Which is a long way of saying, here is a Quotable all about food. Crickets, hot dogs or a McDonald's french fry anyone?

© Cake Bake Shop.

Just for fun … what is your favorite comfort food?

Hard to choose one, but I can give you four off the top of my head: pickled herring, strong cheddar cheese, dark chocolate, and salted almonds.

Viggo-Works 10th Anniversary Interview With Viggo
By Viggo-Works and Viggo Mortensen
30 May 2014

VM: Rabbits sometimes run out in front of your car, right? Well, I hit this rabbit on this lonely road in the South Island and I wanted to make sure it was dead. If it wasn't, I'd put it out of its misery. And it was quite dead, so I thought, 'Well, why waste it?' And so I made a little fire and ate it.

Q: Is this something that you thought Aragorn would have done?

VM: As he was driving down the road and if he hit a rabbit? Yeah, he might. If he was hungry, I guess.

The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
Premiere 2003

"He's just a very simple guy with simple tastes; he doesn't like any luxurious things. I would try to get Viggo to have a decent meal and he would just sit there nibbling on a piece of lettuce, which upset me no end."

Omar Sharif
5 May 2004

Here were all the toy soldiers, ineffective windshield wipers, first tastes of chocolate, wine, asparagus, venison, trout, chalk, ants, a Big Mac, dirt, dandelion stem, unsweetened yerba maté, duck, beer, snow, blood...

Viggo Mortensen on his lost notebooks
Introduction to Best American Non-Required Reading
Houghton Mifflin, 2004

Mortensen, 60, who is Dutch-American, recalls flying in from his home in Spain to meet Tony Lip’s descendants [for Green Book] at a New Jersey red-sauce joint still owned by the family.

And the Italian food just kept coming. “Oh my God," he says. "The first thing was, 'Let’s go to the kitchen and have (Tony's wife) Dolores’ meatballs.' But I was already full. I hadn’t gained all that weight or expanded my stomach (yet).” Then came the antipasti, and a second course, and a third. Mortensen struggled to finish his plate. “And then they’re looking at me like, 'He doesn’t like it.' ... 'No, no! It’s great!’ ”

Afterward, “I made a good show of going out to my rental car and getting in it, and I just drove around the corner and parked, cranked the seat back, undid my belt and laid there for an hour,” he says with a grin.

Finally, an Oscar for Viggo? Mortensen shines a light on 1960s-era racism in 'Green Book'
By Andrea Mandell
USA Today
14 November 2018

If there were Oscars for eating hot dogs, Viggo Mortensen’s would win this year’s award hands down…

Geoffrey McNab
The Independent
30 January 2019

“It was a lot of fun putting it on, but less fun taking it off.”

Viggo on putting on weight for the film
3 things to know before road-trip flick ‘Green Book’ pulls into town
By Susan Wloszczyna
Gold Derby
7 November 2018

The comfortable rapport between the young Australian and the seasoned Mortensen was on display as the duo described pre-production bonding activities, including a visit to an anatomy exhibit that featured real human bodies and a trip to a Mexican restaurant in Pittsburgh to sample edible crickets and worms.

Viggo Mortensen and young co-star trade barbs, discuss bleak film The Road
By Cassandra Szlarski
The Canadian Press
13 September 2009

They later found packages of edible dried insects in a local shop - crickets and maggots in either chilli or salt and vinegar flavours. We decide to use the chilli crickets for the movie.

The Road - John Hillcoat's Diary
By John Hillcoat
Sunday Telegraph
3 January 2010

'The McDonald's french fry is unbelievable. When you bite into it, you think: It's so tasty, it can't be real. As soon as it gets cold, it turns to lard and flubble. I mean, have you ever tried to eat a McDonald's french fry that's gone cold? That's one of the circles of hell. The gulf between the warm, fresh, lightly salted McDonald's french fry and the cold McDonald's french fry is as great a gulf as any I know.'

Viggo Mortensen
What I've Learned
By Cal Fussman
23 April 2015

"I like to live dangerously. Last night I was quietly at home, cooking a meal of chicken, onions and garlic, Cuban style, and then here I am today facing a pack of journalists."

Viggo Mortensen Talks About "Jauja" and "Far from Men"
By Martin Dale
7 December 2014

"After the first day of shooting on the set of Jauja, the whole team had dinner together. Viggo was enjoying himself, we talked about this and that, but when we had finished eating and the dishes had been removed, he disappeared. After a while we started speculating where he was. Had any of us said something inappropriate? We found him in the kitchen doing the dishes."

Lisandro Alonso
11 August 2015

...we had this two-day, one-night wilderness survival camp [for Captain Fantastic], with just the six of us kids and a guide,” she said. “We each were given a knife and had to figure out how to survive. We had to track down our food, purify water, build a shelter. I love being outdoors, but this was pretty extreme.”

“We were building fires because in the forest it was so incredibly dark,” Isler said. “All of a sudden, we heard these sounds and saw this shape coming toward us through the forest. It was Viggo, who said he wanted to bring us beef jerky and dried cherries. And we were all like, ‘How in the world did you find us?’ ”

Tulsa teen actress Samantha Isler talks about her role in 'Captain Fantastic'
By James D Watts Jnr
Tulsa World
29 July 2016

This myth of the poor lonesome cowboy, the guy who has no need of others to be happy, is it really a trick to attract women?

On the contrary! Each time I have tried to charm them with my poetic cowboy side, it's ended in total failure. To seduce a woman, food is more effective than poetry. I love to make complex dishes. That always works!

Viggo Mortensen
Grazia Magazine
Translated by Chrissiejane
December 2009

I would make a giant salad from my own garden, provide good home-baked bread, and, to be safe and not offend anyone, a big rice dish with options of meat and vegetarian, with lots of hand-picked forest mushrooms in both. Also oven-baked potatoes, carrots, garlic, turnips, onions. For those interested, I'd provide fresh-caught wild rainbow trout and salmon, grilled with a bit of lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Blackberries, raspberries, thimbleberries, blueberries, huckleberries, apples, plums, wild grapes, and whatever else I could find in my ideal orchards and surrounding forest. Lots of good water from a spring, and plenty of red and white wine from Spain, Argentina, Italy, France, and New Zealand.

Viggo saying what he would cook for historical figures invited to a dinner party
Viggo-Works 10th Anniversary Interview With Viggo
By Viggo-Works and Viggo Mortensen
30 May 2014

When news of his [Green Book Oscar] nomination came in this morning, his Toronto production staff brought him a “big, huge box of fried chicken” for lunch, as a way of congratulating him. “A nice joke,” he laughs — one that people who’ve seen the movie will appreciate. “I’m going to tear into that now.”

Viggo Mortensen Reflects On The Twists & Turns Of His ‘Green Book’ Journey As He Preps His Directorial Debut
by Matt Grobar
23 January 2019

Quotable Viggo: 14 June 2020

As this is Aragorn Week, we are staying with Strider and the huge impact Viggo had on the production and everyone around him. Can anyone imagine the films without him? Certainly not the cast, production team and crew. Viggo became the glue that held the team together through tough times. The carer that cheered everyone up and encouraged them, a support to Peter and Fran through his dedication to Tolkien, and an inspiration to young actors with his incredible commitment to the film and his work ethic. If Aragorn is the hero who got the Fellowship of the Ring to the Black Gate, then Viggo is the hero who got the Fellowship of the Film to the end of filming.

© New Line Productions Inc.

We knew we were blessed in having Viggo - who is part-Danish descent - step into the role of Aragorn when he arrived carrying a copy of the Volsunga Saga that he had taken from his bookshelf! Viggo not only has an actor's sense of bringing his character to life, but also an innate understanding of 'the warrior code' and Tolkien's philosophy of heroism.

Philippa Boyens
The Making of the Movie Trilogy

'Viggo came late to the project, but he brought a dedication and an understanding of the role that became an example, particularly to the younger cast members. You have to remember that this was Orlando Bloom's first movie. Not only was Viggo valuable in his performance, but he was valuable as a leader of the cast.'

Barrie Osborne
The Lord of the Rings: The Untold Story
By Ian Nathan
December 2004

"He got this reputation as an eccentric because he would carry his sword around, but I found it quite inspiring. There was a glimmer in his eye - he was aware of how other people were perceiving him - but he really reawakened in me a sense of the possibilities of what it can be as an actor enjoying a role."

Sean Astin
A Fantastic Leap of Faith
by Brent Simon
Entertainment Today, 2001

"At the end of shooting one day, we went out and had a drink and Viggo was just so encouraging of everybody he'd worked with, including the extras. He always had a kind word to say to everyone. And I don't know anyone who has a bad word to say about him. He bought flowers for all the extras on one incredibly rainy day. He was just really generous with his time but he never talked himself up. He's quite shy about talking about his own achievements. They were really lucky they got him for this. He kind of makes the film for me."

Jed Brophy
Viggo Mortensen
by Desmond Sampson
Pavement #62, 2003

Mortensen's humility and generosity turned his Rings co-stars into some of his biggest fans. They tell you of the time when a snowstorm shut down production. The cast was being transported to safety when Mortensen seized a four-wheel drive vehicle and drove back to the set in order to save the hobbits' four-feet-tall scale doubles from getting snowbound.

The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
January 2003

“There is quiet leadership to him, and it's not intentional, and I think it's simply because he takes care of the people around him."

Wood praises Viggo for quite some time, in these and other ways. Then he interrupts himself, concerned that he is not doing justice to the full complexities of his colleague's character. "We're talking about how much integrity he has and how brilliant he is," says Wood. "He's also completely insane."

Elijah Wood
The Rebel King
By Chris Heath
GQ magazine, 2004

"Viggo commits himself to a project with the same intensity as the filmmakers - which is rare for an actor," the director says. "After the end of a long day's shooting, when all the other cast would be either in bed or in the bar, [partner and co-screenwriter Fran Walsh] and I would be home grappling with the script for the next week's shooting. At midnight, a nine-page handwritten memo would come rattling through the fax from Viggo, outlining his thoughts about that day's work and the next few days to come. He would suggest passages from the book we should look at. This wasn't an exception - over 15 months it became the rule. In the small hours, it was actually comforting to know there was somebody else out there grappling with the same nightmare that we were."

Peter Jackson
The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
Premiere 2003

"For our love scenes, he would come to me the night before and say he wanted to change all the lines to the Elvish language. He was trying to make that connection stronger, and I thought it was beautiful that they'd speak Elvish to each other because it adds a layer to their history that you wouldn't otherwise see."

Liv Tyler
Mellow Warrior
By Anthony Breznican
South Coast Today
15 December 2003

“…as an actor you can't wish to work with anyone more truthful and more honest than him. He brings an incredible pathos to the role, and I was so pleased to be doing scenes with him."

Sean Bean
A Fantastic Leap of Faith
by Brent Simon
Entertainment Today, 2001

“I’ve been thinking about how much of an influence [Viggo] was on me. He’s so dedicated, disciplined and talented. He taught me a lot. And it was only afterwards that I realised it. It’s funny: you look back on these things 10 years later and ask yourself, ‘Who had a major impact on me?’ As an actor, it was Viggo. I was unpacking a load of boxes recently, recounting old memories, and I remembered how lucky I was that he was around me at that time.”

Orlando Bloom
April 2011

"I read an article that said, 'Finally, someone's found the niche for Viggo Mortensen: the rugged hero who has a deep intellect and a great humanity’. That's what Aragorn is, because Viggo has brought that to it. He's very like that as a human being."

Bernard Hill
It's Good to be "King"
by Susan Wloszczyna
USA Today, 2003

“I really don't know what happened myself, but I lost myself completely in the role. I am a man who likes to withdraw into solitude and take long hikes in the woods and mountains. So was Aragorn. We fitted perfectly together.”

Viggo Mortensen
The Lord of the Rings: The Untold Story
By Ian Nathan, Empire
December 2004

"One of the things that appeals to Viggo about Aragorn is that he's not just an action hero," Mr. Jackson continued. "In his own way, Aragorn is just as thoughtful as Viggo. There's a reluctance on his part to become the king he was meant to be. In a sense, that mirrors Viggo's reluctance to become a movie star."

Peter Jackson
The Man Who Would Just As Soon Not Be King
By Sarah Lyall
New York Times, 2003

"In a story like Lord of the Rings, whether the Ring and Sauron are evil is incidental to me. Even if we were not to get the Ring anywhere near Mount Doom. Even if we all died. It doesn't really matter," Mortensen says. "It's the fact that everybody got together and decided to go on this trip. That's the thing. That's the miracle."

Viggo Mortensen
The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
Premiere 2003

Quotable Viggo: 6 June 2020

Hasn't it been wonderful to see the LOTR cast back together again for Josh Gad’s ‘One Zoom to Rule Them All’? But of course, Viggo nearly wasn’t amongst them. And I’m not talking about the Zoom reunion but the actual films. Trilogy fans could just have easily been watching them all joshing and reminiscing with Stuart Townsend. Luckily for Tolkien and us, Peter and Fran had the guts to admit a mistake and Fate was kind. After all, there is only One Aragorn to Rule Them All!

© New Line Productions Inc.

Shortly after filming began it was decided that actor Stuart Townsend had been miscast in the role of Aragorn. While mutually agreed, the timing of the decision to recast could scarcely have been worse: Stuart had been preparing with the rest of the Fellowship actors and filming was due to begin on the scenes in which the Hobbits first encounter Aragorn (as Strider) at the Prancing Pony in Bree.

Executive Producer Mark Ordesky takes up the story: "I was in London when I got the call from Peter... We had five days in which to find and cast the right person, make the deal and get him on a plane for New Zealand-for fifteen months! That is an inherently dramatic situation."

For Mark, there was only one contender for the role of Aragorn-Viggo Mortensen: "My wife had seen Viggo in Crimson Tide and pushed me and harangued me to track him down and meet with him. Viggo doesn't 'do lunch' with Hollywood 'suits,' but eventually I got to meet with him and afterward told Peter that I was passionate about finding an opportunity to work with Viggo."

A year later that opportunity arose, but it took brinkmanship to win the day: "We got a script to Viggo and his reaction was to say no! It took three more days to convince him. At the eleventh hour, Viggo Mortensen arrived in Wellington, joined the already bonded cast and stepped into filming almost as unexpectedly as his character, the mysterious and unknown Strider, appears in the story.

The Making of the Movie Trilogy
By Brian Sibley
Harper Collins

"I guess in the end I did it because I would feel that I had been chicken shit really. I had to leave the next day, so I'm on the plane reading, looking at this gigantic book and thinking, 'What the hell have I done?"

Viggo Mortensen
The Man Who Would Be King
by Nick Dent
Black & White magazine 2001

We knew we were blessed in having Viggo - who is part-Danish descent - step into the role of Aragorn when he arrived carrying a copy of the Volsunga Saga that he had taken from his bookshelf! Viggo not only has an actor's sense of bringing his character to life, but also an innate understanding of 'the warrior code' and Tolkien's philosophy of heroism.

Philippa Boyens
The Making of the Movie Trilogy

"I started reading the Tolkien book on the plane the next day, and about an hour into it or so, I started to see the first signs of things that I recognized: archetypes and storylines, particularly from Nordic sagas. . . . That put me somewhat at ease, and realizing that I was going to get to be part of this saga and be some sort of Viking warrior - a heroic character with all the flaws and self-doubt that the best of those saga heroes had."

Viggo Mortensen
Playing the Hero Suits Mortensen Fine
Philadelphia Enquirer, 2002

And Viggo came on quite late. I'm sure you were designing for Stuart Townsend then?

It was terrifying. I didn't know Viggo. It had been a pretty difficult time working with Stewart and the original design for the costume of Aragorn - the costume when working with Stewart went through a number of radical changes. At the very end of that process, it became again the original costume. And that's only something you discover when you find those old drawings again.

It was something that I really loved. And suddenly, they were like, "Well, Stewart's gone - now we have this guy." So the week before shooting, Viggo walked into my covered wardrobe dressing room and neither of us was saying very much. He's a very quiet person and sometimes I'm a very quiet person - particularly over issues like that. We were like, "I'll get you to put this on and we'll see what happens."

I was standing there and my heart was in my mouth - I was willing to start the process again because I know how much it matters. You cannot act a role like that without feeling like you were in your second skin as that character. And I was certainly prepared to do it, but there was a part of me that was knew we were knee-deep in trouble.

Viggo paced up and down and said, "Do you think we could just put a few more ties on these boots?" And in that moment - I had known the first time he put that costume on that it was ten times better on him and that was actually to do with the amount of - just Viggo's experience and age and life. He imbued that costume with its own life. The terrifying thing for me was that I might have an actor who simply wanted to get rid of it, but he did not do that.

He just wanted to add to it. I was in love with Viggo from the beginning. (laughs)

Ngila Dickson
DVDFILE.com Interview

Who knows, perhaps it was because [Viggo] washed and repaired Aragorn's clothes himself that he so perfectly came to inhabit them-to a point, indeed, where the costume seemed almost to blend with his body. [pause] You know, I really do think that particular costume is incredibly beautiful. It seems funny, perhaps, to talk about something that is so worn and broken down, so darned and patched, as being beautiful-but it is to me.

Ngila Dickson
The Making of the Movie Trilogy

'When Viggo came in, he fitted the bill perfectly as Aragorn, and he also had great ideas. When he picks up the Hobbits in the first film, he has this small hunting bow and arrows, like someone who lived in the wild would have. But that's not something we had ever thought about designing for Strider. That was Viggo's idea. He came in and started talking about the character, and said, 'If I live out in the wild, I'd have a small hunting bow for catching food. It would never be a big deal, maybe you'd just see it while I'm making a campfire.' We said, 'Yes that makes complete sense, we didn't think of that, so let's make you a bow'. It was always great to have those kinds of discussions with the actors.'

Christian Rivers
Hail To The King
By Lawrence French
Starburst #305, 2003

I didn't envy [Mortensen] when he arrived. Viggo walked into a very tense situation, threw himself into his role amazingly and quickly won the respect of everyone on the crew.

Recalling Viggo's first day on set: The filming was going on at the far end of the [Prancing Pony] set when I noticed this figure in a dark hood, smoking a pipe, sitting in another corner of the set altogether. Then I realized: it was Viggo. He wasn't required in the scene, he was just sitting there, observing the vibe, he was actually being Strider, being the outsider, the lonely man in the corner that no one spoke to.

Costa Botes, Video Documentarian
Official Movie Guide

How do you 'dive' into fight scenes?

Well the first day I met the fight choreographer, Bob Anderson, who's been around a long time - he taught Errol Flynn to fence and represented the UK at the Olympics. I went into this room and there were all these stunt people standing there and screaming and yelling. He had them all pumped-up and he stood me in front of them and said "Okay, go!" And they all started running at me, and I was like, "Holy shit!" He said "stop" and they all stopped. Then he told me: "This is what you're going to be dealing with so let's get to work..." He gave me a sword and it was just, like, crazy for two days. The first thing I did on camera was swordplay and I liked it. It was fun.

The Ranger - Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
by Martyn Palmer
Total Film

The first thing I had to do was a swordfight [the confrontation with the Ringwraiths on Weathertop]. Even before I spoke a single word of dialogue, I was forced to confront the physicality of my character. It was probably helpful to do something physical before speaking. More than for any other character, Aragorn's actions speak for him. His choices, the decisions he makes, his physicality, his body, tell you a lot about him. He's a man who throws himself into situations. Which is why it was good to begin my work with a swordfight.

Viggo Mortensen
Official Movie Guide

"I'm still shocked that that was the first thing he did," says Wood, who had an early dinner with Mortensen during which he found him hard to talk with. "But when he started working, there was no question. This was Aragorn, this was the man who was meant to play this role. We had an immense amount of respect for him being able to jump in so quickly."

Elijah Wood on Viggo shooting the Weathertop battle as his first scene
The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
Premiere 2003

…at least I didn't have much time to get nervous, which was probably good!

Viggo Mortensen
Official Movie Guide

'Ultimately, you create your own luck. Fate does step in. When we ended up with Viggo, fate was dealing us a very kind hand. Viggo, in hindsight, was the one person who was perfect for this film. He came out of nowhere, and suddenly there was Aragorn.'

Peter Jackson
The Lord of the Rings: The Untold Story
By Ian Nathan
December 2004

Quotable Viggo: 24 May 2020

Way back in 2013 I did a Quotable of neat one-liners that I thought summed Viggo up. Well, seven years have passed and there are now more favourites in my collection. Some have done the Quotable rounds a lot in those seven years but I still love them!

Image Simon Lazewski.
© Fotofarm.ie.

He’s a star who doesn’t act like a star, yet everyone in his orbit feels his power.

Joe Morgenstern
Wallstreet Journal
7 July 2016

It’s difficult for things to go wrong when you work with Viggo Mortensen.

David Oelhoffen
Q&A: Viggo Mortensen and David Oelhoffen on ‘Loin Des Hommes’
By Roslyn Sulcas
New York Times
26 August 2014

Viggo Mortensen, as far as I’m concerned, could do a Rubix cube on screen for two hours and I’d still want to watch him…

Metal Gear Solid Movie: Eight Actors Who Could Play Solid Snake
By Liam Hoofe
Flickering Myth
15 September 2017

Mortensen, perhaps the only actor alive who could play Sigmund Freud, William Burroughs and a Middle-earth king...

Uday Bhatia
Live Mint
11 September 2015

Cerebral, spiritual, sex symbol in spite of himself.

Viggo Mortensen: "Travelling is the best anti-war weapon"
By Yetty Hagendorf - translated by Donna Marie
Le Soir (Belgium)
2 February 2015

He’s a regular guy — except he’s not.

Viggo Mortensen, the Unlikely Leading Man
New York Times
By Thessaly La Force
15 October 2018

We like Mortensen because he shows us how to be.

Viggo Mortensen, the Unlikely Leading Man
New York Times
By Thessaly La Force
15 October 2018

Viggo Mortensen is understatement personified.

Understated A-lister Viggo Mortensen tells our reporter about his new cult hit 'Captain Fantastic' - and why it's impossible to be the perfect parent
by Ed Power
Irish Independent
31 August 2016

Viggo Mortensen, who seems only loosely tied to modern life at the best of times...

Helen O'Hara
Empire Magazine
18 August 2016

He seems to be a soul meant to wander the earth in search of universal truth, not discuss Hobbit movies over canapés with journalists.

On interviewing Viggo in a posh hotel
Dr. No: Viggo Mortensen Has Made Turning Down Roles Into an Art Form
By Oliver Jones
The Observer
6 July 2016

Is there a language Viggo Mortensen doesn't speak?

Jill Lawless
Associated Press
2 September 2014

I can have no better faith than in Viggo Mortensen.

Matt Ross
Captain Fantastic: Viggo Mortensen and Matt Ross Interview
Jason Gorber
14 July 2016

He's prepared a gift bag.

Why Viggo Mortensen Is Off the Grid
By Lisa DePaulo
25 May 2016

Mortensen doesn't go in much for trappings. He has a flip phone!

Why Viggo Mortensen Is Off the Grid
By Lisa DePaulo
25 May 2016

He has a defiantly-handsome face, with a jaw so well-defined you could carve a roast with it.

Viggo Mortensen talks Jauja
By Philip Bagnal
11 March 2015

Is Viggo Mortensen the most interesting man in the world?

Viggo Mortensen: Still here, still fantastic
The Film Experience
By Nathaniel Rogers
24 April 2016

They don’t make them like Viggo Mortensen anymore.

A Reader interview with Viggo Mortensen
By Ben Olson
Sandpoint Reader
13 January 2017

Doesn’t everybody want to be Viggo Mortensen? I do!

Matt Ross
Captain Fantastic: Viggo Mortensen & Family
by Christine Westwood
11 June 2016

Quotable Viggo: 17 May 2020

I don't know about you, but I've got through so many books since lockdown started. Being able to read for long periods without feeling that I should be off out doing something else has been a real luxury. We can only imagine how many Viggo has read because, as we know, he is a great reader and researcher. He reads to inform himself, for pleasure, to prepare a character, to enrich a film set, and he generously gives books away almost as much as he does chocolate!

© Good Films.

Mortensen - in a well-tailored plaid jacket (no grunge look for him) and looking slighter than he does on screen -- leads the way upstairs to the poetry room. He immediately heads for the used-books bin. "I might find something out of print or something I haven't noticed before," he says, perusing titles with experienced eyes.

King of the big screen a champion of poetry: Blake's poetry makes an impression on Mortensen
By Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
20 February 2004

[MattRoss] sent Mortensen a huge box of books of recommended reading, including texts by Tom Brown, the renowned naturalist and author of 'Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival; linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky; and Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist and writer Jared Diamond, all of which he felt Ben would be intimately familiar with. "I thought that was a great way to frame some of the knowledge that this family would have," Ross says. "It turned out Viggo had read all the books already."

Cannes Captain Fantastic Press Kit
May 2016

"He would come on set every day with different books for all the kids to read. I ended up having about 10 books that I've never gotten around to reading. He really is a generous, amazingly kind man."

Nicholas Hamilton
Captain Fantastic and the Sundance Kid
By Matthew Lowe
20 January 2015

'I tend to bring things to films. I find things that are useful for a movie and I usually end up getting along well with the prop man, or the designer. In this film, for example, there are the books that Chester finds in the market... I brought those books.'

Viggo Mortensen talks The Two Faces Of January, singing with Fassbender and throwing a nappy at Al Pacino
by Tom Ward
16 May 2014

He's a very cerebral man. He turned up with these beautiful old antique books from the time, like Baudelaire, and things that his character would have had. He had a bag of goodies that he brought with him and a hat, a tie and a shoulder holster. I thought, 'this guy is f**king cool.' I was quite intimidated.

Sam Riley talking about The Road
Sullivan on Cinema: Sam Riley
By Chris Sullivan
9 June 2011

After the movie [The Road], Viggo came back up on the stage and answered a few questions. When put on the spot to add on a final word he thought for a second then dug into his bag and brought out his personal copy of 'The Road'. There were what looked like a hundred stick-it notes marking different pages and the spine was cracked and worn. It's obviously seen a lot of use.

To close the event he read a bit from McCarthy's description of the sea-area landscape. That was pretty cool...

Quint at the Telluride Viggo Mortensen tribute
Ain't it Cool News
8 September 2008

"I read and re-read lots of German authors that someone would have read at the time. Not just German writers, but authors who a literary professor like John Halder might have taught at the time: Proust, Hamsun, American writers. In the movie, you see him in the classroom teaching Proust. I also spent time in Berlin, where I found all the books that you see in John Halder's house and office."

Viggo Mortensen talking about Good
Play It As It Lays
By Philip Berk
April 2009

"Viggo sent me books on Russian criminal tattoos which were filled with not just photos and diagrams but also texts about the meanings of tattoos. He also sent me The Mark of Cain. There's this whole hidden world of symbolism that is immediately fascinating......Tattoos suddenly became an intense metaphor and symbol in the movie."

David Cronenberg
Eastern Promises Production Notes
20 August 2007
Source: Focus Features

"I had seen photos in books in Russia on wrestling, such as the practices of the military. I learned those techniques for defence and attack. My partners knew them too: One was a Georgian who was in the army, the other a former Turkish boxer. In this way we could film the scene without doubles. It's because of that it is made so realistic. Nobody ever let their guard down!"

Viggo Mortensen on the fight scene in Eastern Promises
Viggo Mortensen the Insatiable
Studio Magazine
By Sophie Benamon
November 2007

"You have to take into account,' he says, 'that Viggo is a cultured man and he finds out about the places he is going to shoot. In the case of León I know he has read a large number of books about that ancient realm, he knows its poets, writers, painters, its history and geography, and anything that refers to that land is followed with attention and kept.'

José Luis Pérez on Viggo's interest in León
Reunion with Alatriste in Uclés
Diario de León, by Miguel Ángel Nepomuceno - translated by Paddy
26 June 2005

He was the one who read the most about the Golden Century's history. He sent books and CDs for all his casting colleagues to savour that time - "not to seduce or control what the others did, but to share what I had found out," Mortensen informs.

Viggo Mortensen
The Court of Alatriste
-Translated for V-W by Paddy
By Rocío García
El País Semanal
6 August 2006

We knew we were blessed in having Viggo - who is part-Danish descent - step into the role of Aragorn when he arrived carrying a copy of the Volsunga Saga that he had taken from his bookshelf!

Philippa Boyens
The Making of the Movie Trilogy

He hadn't read 'Lord of the Rings' at all when he came to the project. By the end of it all I think Viggo knew more about Tolkien and his context than anybody else on the whole production. He read absolutely everything there was - every critical book there was to lay hands on. He doesn't do things by halves!

Jude Fisher
Q&A at The Making of Middle-earth Book Signing
The Science Museum, London
November 8, 2003
Published with permission from Ian Smith

'... it was I who suggested to Ridley Scott the use of a poem by D.H. Lawrence for the introduction scene in "GI Jane'. This reference gave my military character another dimension. It made him a lot more original, it was also my way of making him less misogynist! And the book which I give to Demi Moore, in which there is that poem, it was mine, all battered, really old ...'

Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen: The Soul of a Warrior
by Juliette Michaud
Studio Magazine
December 2002

Myself, I love the rain, especially falling asleep to its music, ideally sounding on a metal roof, and I with a book in my hands and/or an old movie on TV.

Viggo Mortensen
If The Rain Gets Here
By Viggo Mortensen and Fabián Casas - translated by Ollie and Zoe
9 October 2014

...I know I can't read all the books or watch all the movies in one lifetime." Does he find that frustrating? Mortensen fixes me with his intense blue gaze. "Mostly no," he says. "If we could run out of books and movies, then we would be bored."

Viggo Mortensen is lord of all things
Chitra Ramaswamy
The Scotsman
24 May 2013

There can be millions of identical copies of any book, and yet the copy you hold and read is your personal doorway.

Viggo Mortensen
The Making of the Movie Trilogy

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Last edited: 11 July 2020 09:23:19