Chat with Viggo Mortensen

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Moderator: Thanks to all the cybernauts who participated in the chat with Viggo Mortensen. The following are the best bits of the chat with the Lord of the Rings actor.

Legolas: What chapter from the saga did you enjoy acting the most and why?

Viggo Mortensen: From what I remember, no. If somebody wants to find the negative all their life, they'll have a bad time. I see the unexpected and overwhelming success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a gift. If it hadn't been for that success, I wouldn't be here talking to you and I wouldn't have made A History of Violence. They're roles which I have been allowed to play in my career - opportunities I got thanks to Lord of the Rings.

Monica: Do you feel Argentinean, American, Danish, or a mix of all? Or maybe something more?

Viggo Mortensen: What I have learned is that I can feel at home anywhere, and hopefully all the people of the world can one day come to feel that way. There would be less war and disagreements, misunderstandings. Since I spent my childhood in Argentina there's something special there. When I'm in Mexico, or another country where Spanish is spoken, I feel pretty comfortable with the culture and customs, but I feel at home in many other parts of the world.

Smeagol: I read in an interview with you in Los Angeles that you are a perfectionist in your work. So, if you could change something in A History of Violence, something that you think could be improved in terms of the story or character, what would you change?

Viggo Mortensen: To my taste, it's the best construction in movie terms that I've ever been part of, including other movies that I've done, and that isn't meant to be disrespectful to any director, but the way of preparing the script, of communicating with the whole team daily, the rapport; allowed the final product to be better than anything I've ever experienced. So my reply is "nothing'. I feel it's almost perfect; though it's impossible to make a perfect
movie. I'm proud to have been part of this story.

Monica: Was it hard being the son of parents with different nationalities and going to live in a country that wasn't either one of your parents?

Viggo Mortensen: I'd say it was a luxury, looking back. And really, in school in Argentina, even though someone every now and then would call me Yankee. Argentina is a country like Mexico, of mixed races and cultures. Truthfully, I don't remember being teased during my childhood and now I see it as an advantage because I can respond in their language, in my language, because I am an optimist, it's no longer so strange to have different parents, to learn other things, it allows us to notice other things. Being optimists, that will be the future of humanity.

Monica
: Which of the movies you have made has given you the most satisfaction as an actor and why?

Viggo Mortensen: I've never made a movie where I haven't learned something, where I haven't forged new friendships, meaning that there is always something good if one pays attention during the project or production; but in general, like with the other question, A History of Violence is, for me, in terms of the process, of communication, of attention to subtlety in the story, of the acting and the final result, for me it's the best. The best experience.

Monica: Is it true that your son, Henry, convinced you to accept that part of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings? And if that's true, give him a hug from me. :)

Viggo Mortensen: I give him hugs every day; you don't need to remind me Monica, thanks. The truth is that yes, he pushed me a little bit toward the project when they offered me the role. I hadn't read the book; I had to go away to a country for a year and a half; we didn't know it would last 4 years, it was a really long promotion, it helped to have my son"s enthusiasm. I'm grateful to him as well, his support to create Aragorn, the success of Lord of the Rings has led me to other projects. I should give him 10 percent of everything I've earned. I follow his advice not only in my work. He has always been a wise, serene person and not just because I'm his father do I care for this friendship with such an interesting person.

Fausto
: Would you like to play a historical character from Mexico?

Viggo Mortensen: Yes, it depends on the story. I don't plan, I don't say, "If you can find me a historical character in Mexico, or some Russian...' I believe a little in luck, that it comes with effort. You have to look for luck. I don't have anything against a character, I would have to work hard to not speak as I do. You never know, everything's possible.

Oscar
: If Fox, Chávez, Bush and Kirchner lived in Middle Earth, what characters would they be?

Viggo Mortensen: That's dangerous. I'm afraid to reply. The fear I have is that comparing interesting literary and mythological characters to those three men would give too much importance to just one. They'll get their just desserts in the end, and anyway, nations are beginning to realize the wrong that they're doing. I don't get involved in such a manner.

Natorro: What do you think of George W. Bush's presidency and his bellicose attitude?

Viggo Mortensen: He's not a stupid person. Lots of people say that. He's not stupid, but he also doesn't lead. That's why we shouldn't represent imperialist entrepreneurs, ideological interests and fundamentalists. It's a complicated question. The Bush administration has broken all world records for lying. That has now become obvious to the majority of populations and the North American people are realizing, 62 percent, don't believe him anymore. I could give a longer and more detailed answer, but I don't think that's necessary.

When he talks, they don't swallow it anymore, and his level of popularity, those who approve what his administration is doing is low - even lower than Nixon's ratings during his worst period. If there weren't a majority in Congress I think that we would already be initiating the process to get rid of him and others. The crimes he has committed are more severe than Nixon's or Clinton's. History will tell what this was, that's obvious. I don't think much of Bush and his administration- they're a nightmare. Unfortunately, it's not a question of kicking him out, the consequences of his behaviour and of those who surround him will be felt for generations. And, as a person who lives in the U.S. and who is a U.S. citizen, I have to say that we've never been in greater danger than right now, specifically because of the actions of the government and those who support it.

Every day they put us in more danger and the U.S. has never been hated more as a result of this government. But it's not because the citizens are bad - that's dangerous and a real tragedy. We'll spend way too many years trying to fix things, if it's possible. I don't even know if it's possible any more. The U.S. is a decaying empire, but as it falls it destroys all those around it. The empire can collapse gently, with a certain grace and sensibility, it can learn something from history. I don't see that being the case at the moment, in the same manner that has happened with the English and Spanish empires.

Gulliver: Why San Lorenzo and not River or Boca?

Viggo Mortensen: Because I have blue blood. I went to the doctor for a check-up, and he told me so.

Analia: Mate or beer?

Viggo Mortensen: Mate.

Tasatir: Do you absorb something from each character into your personal life?

Viggo Mortensen: Yes, gladly. It's like an exchange. The character gives me something and I give him something. Human beings being beings have the capacity to reason and to imagine magnificent things, both good and noble and mean and cruel, even terrible. But having the capacity for reason like in A History of Violence, where we have a man who grew up in a terrible environment, he's a man who in some manner has continued fighting his whole life to reject the violence. And that's why I think that this story could be called A History of Antiviolence. A story of life, of a couple, a family. And for me the example of the person with a violent past, who consciously makes a choice of how to act. What we were talking about a moment ago, the government, can be applied in that sense. I'm an optimist and feel that the direction of this country and its people can change. It's important not to forget that. We're capable of compassion and we always will be, in spite of the terrible things our government has done.

Piscis: How do you manage to combine theater, painting and writing?

Viggo Mortensen: To live, if one wants to see it that way, is a work of art. If I take a picture, paint or draw something, or write something, I go to see paintings in a museum, I go to the movies or theater, I have a relationship or conversation with another person. An exchange of ideas- all these things can be artistic activities because they all have to do with observing, listening, seeing, feeling what is around you and those who surround you. I interpret my character and you have to filter what you think you heard, felt, saw and communicate it to yourself and others. Life is art and if you choose to view it that way, you can enjoy each different way of thinking. But even if life is more convenient lived in such a manner, art still continues being life...

Magda: Would you like to one day get into politics?

Viggo Mortensen: I don't think so. I don't think so even though it would interest me. They wouldn't allow me. One of the requirements of office is lying. It's necessary everywhere...I wouldn't feel comfortable having to lie in my work even if being an actor is to lie in the most honest way possible, but no, I don't think so.

Tajeew: What is your compromise with humanity, via your profession?

Viggo Mortensen: As an actor I would say that it's to interpret a character as a real person to the best of my ability, the good and the bad from each character. In the case of History of Violence, it's about a man with important secrets, complicated secrets, but I've always seen my characters as human beings with secrets. Like the ads for the movie said, "We all have something to hide.' He's normal and respectable to the outside eye. People who say and do everything they think of on the spur of the moment tend to be a danger to others. Sometimes we see them from a distance or up close, but society, civilization, the exchange of ideas and democracy wouldn't function if everybody said or did everything they thought of. I don't know. It's good for people to know that something happens inside each character. Something there...all the people in the world are mysterious. My responsibility as an actor is to demonstrate this in the best way I can with each character.

Vivian: You're the hottest guy in the universe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Viggo Mortensen: I don't believe you, but thank you very much, that's very kind.

A warm hello to everybody who is reading and writing. This is a different world from ten years ago because of technology, but it's necessary to be careful because any communication can be used in a negative form. There are people who use the technological advances in communication to promote negative ideas, harmful efforts towards people, to sow doubt, separation among nations, racism, intolerance. So just because of the new technology and this communication we have to be careful, work honestly. Even if someone is in a good relationship with some people, family, society, we shouldn't lose our guard too much. You have to be honest with yourself, and communicate honestly. I don't want to be a drag. Thank you very much for the conversations tonight and have a good day.

Moderator: Thanks for participating.

Viggo Mortensen: Thank you.
Last edited: 12 December 2005 04:20:45
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