Viggo Mortensen: The Biggest Soccer Fan In Hollywood
16 November 2005
He came as an actor, but talked about San Lorenzo
Wearing all manner of Buenos Aires and soccer trappings (socks, bracelet, and a San Lorenzo pin, plus a complete mate set and the sports section of The Nation on hand), Viggo Mortensen greeted the Argentinean press on his recent visit to Buenos Aires. Before travelling, he did everything possible to ensure that the trip to promote A History of Violence, David Cronenberg's movie premiering tomorrow, would allow him to be free on Sunday to attend a San Lorenzo match. In all the interviews he granted from early morning to afternoon, he commented on his delight at San Lorenzo's 5-3 victory against Tiro Federal, and in his strong Buenos Aires accent (the one that has everybody staring at him dumbly in admiration) lamented not being able to stay and follow his team until Thursday when they'll play against River.
His interest in soccer infuses everything, including both questions and answers. Someone in the surrounding crowd suggest that Viggo's upcoming appearance on Susana Giménez's program might fortuitously coincide with when Maradona is also supposed to be on the show. (Something that actually happened a couple days later). 'Probably impossible,' he says.
This most recent trip couldn't have borne better fruit. 'I really regret not having been able to see Maradona's last game. I'd like to ask him a question: I want to know whether it's true that when he was a boy he was with San Lorenzo. Somebody once told me that.'
Viggo Mortensen isn't a diva, the people around him say; he doesn't ask for any "special water.' With provincial tranquility, he qualifies statements during the long days of repeated questions. He takes off his black boots and allows us to see the wide stripes on his socks in the colours of the team he loves. He also loosens his belt, drinks mate, rolls his own cigarettes, and greets and replies with a friendly, though somewhat timid smile, with little show.
Later he will talk about the experience of being directed by Canadian David Cronenberg (Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, Crash and eXistenZ). He says it was even better than working on the set of Peter Jackson's spectacular saga Lord of the Rings. 'At the beginning I had a lot of doubts because I thought that it would be an exploitative, superficial movie. I had a lot of questions on how the violence was depicted in the movie. And when I found out that David Cronenberg was directing, we talked a lot about the human nature of this man who fights to find a way of living that isn't violent.'
After playing the role of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, film productions with "epic' themes began to deluge him with offers. Mortensen accepted work in Spain on the saga of Alatriste. 'It's the most expensive movie ever made in Spain. It's directed by Agustín Díaz Yanés, the director of Nobody Will Speak Of Us When We're Dead, and is based on Arturo Pérez-Reverte's novel. The truth is that I learned a great deal during these last two experiences. But with Cronenberg everything was a lot of fun, in spite of A History of Violence being a somewhat tragic story.'
Viggo said, among other things, that he would like to have a house in Argentina and be directed by a local director. 'But not everything is possible. There's no point in getting frustrated; I'll just wait for when the opportunity arises.'
He still misses those years when he visited the country and nobody noticed, when he could walk through the Chaco province without causing double takes. 'It's not that I'm complaining about my popularity. It's very nice that people identify with my work, but every now and then I feel like being alone.'
His dreams, he says, go beyond acting. He's still not sure - or doesn't want to say - whether he will one day try his hand at producing. 'For the moment, I want to continue working with my small company, publishing books by unknown photographers and making my own photographs and exhibits. I want to continue writing poems and painting. Everything I earn I reinvest in those things.' And he again lamented not being able to stay until Thursday. Not for the premiere of A History of Violence, but for the San Lorenzo match. 'But I hope to return next year for the premiere of Alatriste. I'm getting used to returning to Argentina once a year.'
Last edited: 23 November 2005 02:28:40