Quotable Viggo

Quotable Viggo 2021

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Quotable Viggo: 31 January 2021

A recent comment from a journalist about talking to Viggo on Zoom made me giggle. True to form, Viggo had a lot to say and was running over with all his interviews. As the journalist said, ‘he can go on a bit’. And I remember another journalist once called him a 'regular Chatty Cathy in person'. Lucky for everyone involved that he is always worth listening to…

© Getty & Elena Sanchez.

He can go on a bit, which is why I’m waiting for 30 minutes to now reconnect with him on Zoom to talk about his directing debut Falling.

I’m in no doubt he has over-run talking to a journalist before me and, sure enough, my own allowed time with him goes over, too – when the PR woman interrupts the Zoom to say time is up, Viggo politely tells her: “Oh don’t worry about that, we have much to speak about still, we can go on a bit…” And we do.

Viggo Mortensen on his new film and the mystery of cinema
by Jason Solomons
The new European
5 December 2020

He's shy, but a bit of a motormouth (and can run on in at least six different languages).

Viggo Mortenson is complicated
By Micjelle Devereaux
San Francisco Bay Guardian
12 September 2007

In conversation, Mortensen doesn’t indulge in niceties. Doesn’t do small talk. But get him going on football, or his about-to-be published Spanish-language poetry collection, or indeed Green Book, and you can easily lose 10 minutes to his enthusiastic observations and tangential musings. Attempts to redirect his thoughts are about as effective as trying to stem the flow of a raging river using an ironing board.

These verbal deluges don’t derive from a feeling of self-importance, or of high-mindedness, but of generosity. He is trying to answer my questions as fully and considerately as he can – to a fault.

Viggo Mortensen: intellectual nourishment in a world of artery-clogging culture
By Dan Masoliver
20 December 2018

[He] speaks quietly and thoughtfully, and often at length, on every question, hammering his subject from all sides until it submits to the truth.

Viggo Mortensen v the apocalypse
By Kevin Maher
The Times
3 October 2009

Viggo Mortensen is, besides a great actor, an inexhaustible conversationalist…

The Dark Side Of The Hero
By Walder & Castro - translated by Graciela, Remolina and Zooey
Marie Claire (Spain)
June 2009

A conversation with him tends to lead wherever he wants it to go. Try to ask a follow-up question or change the subject, and he’ll gently, politely raise his voice and continue talking over you.

Rocky Road
By Ben Kenigsberg
Time Out Chicago
13 November 2009

Here’s the thing about Viggo Mortensen: I could listen to this man speak on just about any topic for hours.

Viggo Mortensen Will Hypnotize You With His Intensity As He Dissects What’s Wrong With Our Polarized Country
By Mike Ryan
7 November 2016

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

Mortensen speaks slowly and in each one of his answers it seems there are endless concepts that could need an extra explanation.

Viggo Mortensen tiene un plan
By Justina Berard
Vos/La Voz
25 May 2011

I’ve had four or five conversations with Mortensen over the years, and they’ve all followed the same pattern: He takes your measure for a minute or two, just to establish some basic comfort level and make sure he’s not talking to a total idiot, and then it’s hard to get the guy to shut up.

Viggo Mortensen: Lay off the pope
By Andrew O'Hehir
20 March 2013

Ostensibly, Mortensen is in town to promote his role as a conflicted, compromised German professor in Good, a small-scale drama that – in his words – “needs all the support it can get”. He could have got away with delivering the sales spiel. Instead, he’s content to go lolloping off after his own train of thought and in the end, the best option is to give up and drift along for the ride. In Mortensen’s view, the journey is always more entertaining than the destination anyway.

The happy trails of Viggo Mortensen
Xan Brooks
The Guardian
18 April 2009

He speaks with a softness and strength at the same time. The depth of his tenor and the thoughtful, unhurried way in which he expresses himself makes his words a visual, spoken poetry.

Native Voice Interview with Viggo
By Lise Balk King
Pine Ridge Reservation
South Dakota, December 2003

…he’s a soft spoken guy who can fill a digital recorder with wall-to-wall perspective.

Kris Tapley
In Contention
10 September 2009

Quotable Viggo: 17 January 2021

In a recent article there was a lovely story reminding us that Viggo hadn't only bought two of the LOTR horses for himself, but had also bought the white horse that Arwen rides for her brilliant stuntrider. A typically generous gesture, and his understanding of how important the horse was to her is part of the extraordinary relationship Viggo has always enjoyed with horses in film.

© New Line Productions Inc.

"There were actually three horses that I bought. They were up for sale once the movies were done. There were the two I'd ridden – a chestnut and then the big bay that Aragorn rides – but I also bought the white horse that Arwen rides in The Fellowship Of The Ring when she's being chased through the forest by the Black Riders. The person who did that spectacular bit of riding was a stuntwoman who I ended up becoming friends with. I knew how much she liked that horse, so I bought it for her.

Viggo Mortensen: "I feel like 'Green Book' is more timely than ever"
by Alex Flood
5 December 2020

In the business, he's that worldly poetic soul who can do credible justice to gangland Russian, Sioux, or Elvish dialects. That guy who looks great on a horse.

The Great Dane
Men's Vogue
By Phoebe Eaton
March 2008

"I've always liked to ride, and it sort of reminds me of when I was a little boy. When you're a kid, you're kind of fearless. You can get afraid of things, but you're not as conscious of your mortality or of getting hurt as when you're an older guy and you're kind of like, 'Well, you know, if I come off goin' full tilt...this is gonna hurt.'"

Viggo on riding bareback in Hidalgo
'King' Star Returns To The Screen, Riding High
By Todd Camp
Star Telegram
6 March 2004

I understand you bought Brego, the horse you used in The Lord of the Rings?

Yes, he became my friend, just like the other cast members. The guy who owned him wanted to sell him, so he said to me, 'I know you've gotten along well with this horse, and I'd like to see him in good hands, would you like to buy him?' I thought about it for a while, whether it would be practical or not, and finally said, 'Why not?'

Hail To The King
by Lawrence French
Starburst #305

"He did things on the horse that the stunt man had difficulty doing. He fell off the horse, he rode bareback, he jumped on the horse at a gallop, which is difficult to do, and he you know, he fell off a few times and he got knocked down and he got kicked a few times, but you know, he also got right back up and wanted to do it again. I think he knew that if there was anything that was really life-threatening, he would come forward and say, 'I don't feel comfortable doing this.' But he never did."

Joe Johnston
IGN gets the behind-the-action goods from the director, writer and star of Hidalgo.
By Jeff Otto, IGN
4 March 2004

There's a part of the body that we weren't aware of called the 'nacho'. In other words, it's sort of right in the middle, it's not your, uh, you know, up front and it's not your...and that got pretty sore. We got a nacho pad, but it was a little too late.

Viggo Mortensen on riding bareback
'King' Star Returns To The Screen, Riding High
by Todd Camp
Star Telegram
6 March 2004

"You know, every actor you work with, you ask them, 'So, how do you ride?' And they always say, 'I ride excellently.' Viggo says to me, 'I ride O.K.' He gets on the horse, and he rides better than me. That's what I mean when I say the guy has no ego problems. He does not exist on the Hollywood plane - do you know what I mean?"

Rex Peterson
Finding Viggo
By Alex Kuczynski
Vanity Fair magazine
January 2004

Is it true that you and your British co-star, Zuleikha Robinson, could have been killed while shooting Hidalgo?

That was scary! We were both riding this horse, and it just took off and headed for this really high wall. I knew that there were trucks and equipment on the other side, and two huge storage jars on top. I was sitting behind Zuleikha, just hanging on. Somehow we stayed on, but Zuleikha lost the reins and I jumped off and grabbed them, and miraculously no one - not even the horse - got hurt. We could easily have been killed. Zuleikha was giggling - I think the shock hit her later. It wasn't caught on camera, but it would have looked like a great special effect. It was unbelievable!

Our Kiss Was Just a kiss
By John Millar
Hot Stars
27 March 2004

"I had no intention of buying a horse off of this movie. But with T.J. he was...I don't know, I just got to really, really like him. He's got such a unique, strong personality. He's a very small horse, you know, technically he's a pony. I mean he's about 14 Hands 2, I guess. And 14 Hands 3 and up is a horse and below is a pony, technically. He's a small horse, but very intelligent, very quick learner, for a stallion very relaxed on the set. He wasn't afraid or worried about the lights, camera, or anything. He was totally calm. You know that comic strip Andy Capp? That guy with his hat? I just think of him like that. He would just be there like, 'Whatever.''

Viggo Mortensen on TJ
The Lord of the Rings & Hidalgo Star Discusses Horses, Learning New Languages, Photography and More.
By Spence D

It takes a thoroughbred star like Mortensen to make the bond between man and horses believable, and to keep Hidalgo from straying too far into fields of corn.

From hobbits to horses
Jennie Punter
The Globe and Mail
5 March 2004

One of his most recent books, The Horse Is Good, seems to fit in nicely with the relationships he has cultivated with some of his onscreen steeds. "The Horse Is Good was just kind of an exercise. It's just the small part of the results of an exercise that I embarked on pretty much as we started shooting, more or less. Which was I realized that I was gonna be in the saddle most every day and some days all day long. And that point of view is different than sitting here or standing or walking down the street. You're up higher, you're moving a different way, the perspective of the rider through the camera or holding it down lower to get the horse's point of view, with the landscape, the people, and the animals and all that. I thought it would be interesting to do a collection of images, 'cause we'd be in different places - the Northern Plains, U.S., Sahara Desert, the Wild West Show, going down the street, who knows where, on horses. And so that's what that is. So there is some direct connection, but it's also a little more abstract. I mean it was something that interested me on the fringe of doing this movie."

The Lord of the Rings & Hidalgo Star Discusses Horses, Learning New Languages, Photography and More
Spence D

The two horse team was getting a little fidgity. Viggo Mortensen walked over to the horse nearest him and started caressing its right flank slowly, and repeated it over and over, while talking to Renee, standing in the buckboard. The horse relaxed along with its teammate. .........

Appaloosa blog
24 October 2007

"Last week we were filming Hidalgo in High Plains, Montana, where there was no fence for miles; you could just imagine that it was 1890 or 1790," he says. "I was in the middle of a herd of six or seven hundred horses. I was really aware of the fact that very few people would ever get to be in such a place. Nobody in the world gets to be in the middle of that many horses, running as fast as you can." And where does that thought lead you to, I ask. He pauses. "Just, 'Don't forget this'."

The New Hollywood Male
by Charles Gant
Arena Hommes Plus #18

Mortensen arrives at the Stephen Cohen Gallery caked in mud, having just been riding T.J., who plays the title role in Hidalgo ….and then washing him and giving him a conditioning treatment. "We don't do that all the time," Mortensen says. "He's not a pretty-boy horse."

Finding Viggo
By Alex Kuczynski
Source: Vanity Fair magazine
January 2004

"I can't lie to you, I had a lot of fun riding around on horseback…"

Viggo Mortensen
CBS News Interview
8 September 2008

Quotable Viggo: 0 January 2021

So – did you get all the answers to our Annual Quotable Quiz? Take a look at the Quotes below and all will be revealed…

© stella pictures.

1) As a kid, what did Viggo want to be when he grew up?

"When you were a kid, what'd you want to be when you grew up?"

"A crowwas probably what I wanted to be most of all."

"Really? Why is that? What is it about crows?

"They're survivors. They can live anywhere. They're very self-sufficient. They're very resourceful. They're adaptable."

"That sounds like you."

"Yeah!" he laughed.

Viggo Mortensen: Making peace with the camera
CBS, 11 December 2016

2) For what did Viggo win the Drama-Logue Critics Award in Los Angeles in 1987?

Bent: The play's climax depends heavily on the steely autoeroticism Viggo Mortensen injects as a blank-eyed, quietly sadistic Nazi captain (it's a terrifically forceful performance).

On Viggo's performance in Bent
Hard-edged Drama Gets a Little Mushy in Bent
The Orange County Register, 1987

3) What did the Green Book production team buy him to celebrate his Oscar nomination?

When news of his [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
Deadline.com, 23 January 2019

4) In which film did the director prepare Viggo for his role by making him spend time with a Hell’s Angel? And who was the Director?

The Indian Runner/Sean Penn: Once Mortensen was cast, Penn helped him fully plumb the depths of his character. 'I had always thought of Frank as a barking dog that bites,' Penn says, 'so I asked Viggo to spend some time with a friend of mine who's a Hell's Angel who knows the world and also is a fighter - not that there's a lot of fighting in the movie, but I felt that he should know it and be able to feel that physical confidence.'

Sean Penn Bites Back,
Premier, October 1991

5) One of the many jobs Viggo had when he was young was at the Winter Olympics. What was he hired to do and did he do it?

Rove: I know you used to be a translator with, I think, the Swedish Hockey Team in the Winter Olympics?

Viggo: Well, I was meant to be a translator for the Danish Olympic Team but nobody showed up. Literally. And they said "Well, can you understand the Swedes?' I said "I probably can. I'm not sure they can understand me.' But it became...what I really got to do was go to a lot of hockey games with drunken Finns and Swedes...'

Rove Live interview
Melbourne, 28 February 2006

6) Viggo stashes his chocolate like what kind of animal?

…he stashes chocolate on his person like a marsupial…

A History of Defiance
Men’s Journal, October 2009

7) In which film did Viggo play opposite an actor playing one of Viggo’s distant relatives?

Hidalgo: “I found out a while back that I’m related to Buffalo Bill - distantly, on my mother’s mother’s side of the family,” he says. “It’s true: I went to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, and saw the records that prove the connection.” Mortensen finds J.K. Simmons’ performance as Buffalo Bill “terrific” - and it gave him an interesting opportunity to play in scenes with a distant relative.

Viggo Mortensen: The Straight-Shooting Star of the New Western
Cowboys & Indians, April 2004

8) In March 2003 Viggo took part in a anti-war demonstration outside the White House. Which of his poems did he read to the crowds?

After distributing his anti-war teeshirts and protesting against the occupation of Iraq, [Viggo] addresses Congress with a fierce: "God isn't angry, you are." Then he reads one of his poems, written for publication on the poetsagainstwar.org website, Back to Babylon, from which an extract follows:

"Accept and forget difference and desire that separates and leaves us longing or repelled. Why briefly return to playing broken places, to mock the ground, to collect infant shards, coins, fossils, or the familiar empty cannisters and casings that glint from poisoned roots in the blackened dust?"

A Year in the Life of Viggo Mortensen
Studio Magazine, 2003

9) Aside from the duck, when he was a kid what animal did Viggo try to take home to show his family?

"There was one time when I was coming home at the end of the day, going through the paddocks, and you open the gates from horseback, and the last gate I was about to grab the latch and there was this beautiful, beautiful snake wrapped around it..it was orange and black and white stripes. And I thought 'I'm going to take this home and show it to my family'. And I tried to grab it and he tried to get me. And I like whacked it just to stun it and I grabbed it by the neck and opened the gate and got through, closed it and said "Dad, dad, look what I got." And he freaked out, cos it was a Coral snake, which if you get bit I think two minutes, three minutes, you're dead."

Viggo Mortensen
David Letterman Show, 2004

10) According to Exene Cervenka, what did Viggo keep his early poetry in?

'He kept a lot of his poetry inside his refrigerator,' says Cervenkova, 'which endeared him to me forever.'

Viggo Mortensen
US Magazine #23,1997

11) For which film did Viggo take on a corporate giant to persuade them to allow their product to be included in the movie?

The Road: “The Coca-Cola is in the book. I amused myself with the idea that it was a Diet Coke. (laughter). It would have been funny. But they only place their products in family movies. So I called them and told them everything: It's going to look great! Cheaper! Free! If it were Pepsi, it wouldn't be like the book. We filmed it with Pepsi, with Fanta…Things went better with Coke. [laughter]. We sent the scene to them and it made an impression. And they agreed.

Viggo Mortensen - Passage To Hell
On Madrid - El Pais, 5 February 2010

12) What was Viggo filming when he duetted ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ with his co-star?

A Dangerous Method: “We also had a lot of fun singing duets. In Belvedere Gardens where Freud did take his walks, and then you see him in the end, in his morning walk, we were singing at the top of our lungs, which surprised the public and some of the journalists. He has a good singing voice and I did harmony. In Belvedere, we sang that song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," including all the high notes, which Michael hit really well.”

Viggo Mortensen talking about filming with Fassbender
Viggo Mortensen Reveals How He Became Freud in ‘A Dangerous Method’
Yahoo Movies, 16 December 2011

13) Which town in Spain did Viggo take to his heart while filming Alatriste?

...Yanes talks about how Viggo is always looking forward to receiving news and things from León and being told anecdotes from there, and he points out that from the moment they started the shooting in Cádiz, Viggo has had the flag of León next to the San Lorenzo one, both hanging from the trailer window, and the music of that land sounds for many hours from Alatriste's caravan.

León: Reunion with Alatriste in Uclés
Diario de León, 26 June 2005

14) What was the very first role that we know Viggo played?

As an 8-year-old, Mortensen played "the ass end of a dragon" in a school play…

The Other Side of Viggo Mortensen
Variety Life, October 2003

15) Which actor appearing with Viggo said “we’ve all been Viggo-tized” and which film did they appear together in?

“Come on, we’ve all been Viggo-tized before,” Williams says of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ stud and ‘Road’ co-star. “He has that charisma, he has a swagger. He’s a great dude.”

It’s not that Williams takes it as far as some of Viggo’s female fans: “(But) I have my own kind of love affair with him,” says Williams. “I know whenever I see him in God’s green earth I am going to get a hug. And we’re going to get a drink, time-permitting. And we’ll kick it a little bit.”

Michael K Williams
‘Wire’ Hero Michael K. Williams Loved Getting ‘Viggo-tized’ on ‘The Road’
Popeater.com, 19 November 2009

16) In what sport was Viggo beaten by Hobbits?

… you took up surfing for the first time in New Zealand. How did that go?

Let's just say I'm not as good as the hobbits.

Chairman Of The Sword
Entertainment Weekly, 10 December 2003

17) Which actress called Viggo ‘the chocolate crack dealer."

Renée Zellweger: "…there was never a day that he wasn't plying us with dark chocolate. It was ridiculous. Bags full. Bags full! Bacon–covered truffles. Where was he getting it? He was the chocolate crack dealer."

The Great Dane
Men’s Vogue, March 2008

18) Viggo has worked twice with screen-writer John Fusco. Once in Hidalgo and once in…?

Young Guns 11: “It’s amazing what he brought to that role,” Fusco says. “I remember I was in my hotel room in Santa Fe, and there’s this knock on the door pretty late at night. I open it, and there was Viggo holding a rifle. He said, ‘I got some ideas about the scope my character would have on his rifle. Do you have a minute?’ He came in, and he sat down dead serious and showed me this conversion he’d done to an historically accurate scope. He said, ‘With all the copper mining in these parts, I think it would be copper.’ I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this guy is serious. He’s really got it.’”

John Fusco
Entertainment Weekly, 6 August 2010

19) In what film did Viggo steal a scene from a much-feted actor while never getting out of a chair?

Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence), in a small role, manages to steal a scene from Pacino without ever getting out of his chair.

Ken Dubois Ultimate Edition DVD Review
Reel.com, October 2005

20) Who did Viggo say were ‘terrible at writing’, but he looked forward to seeing them soon?

His horses: '...they're terrible at writing, but I look forward to seeing them soon.'

'Ordinary guy' role a treat for Mortensen
New Zealand Herald, March 18 2006

Last edited: 31 January 2021 05:17:19