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Media Watch: An Insight Into Mortensen

December 31, 2002 at 6:35 pm by Demosthenes  - 

Ringer Spy Celebwyn writes:

I read a very interesting interview in the most important Argentine newspaper yesterday, and I thought many others could enjoy it like me, and so I translated it to English the best I could. In this extensive interview to Viggo Mortensen talks about Argentina, how he sees Aragorn, Peter Jackson, his impressions after seeing FOTR and TTT, his expectations for ROTK, how he deals with popularity, and he also explains his attitude on Rossie’s show.You can find if you like the original interview in Argentine Spanish here.

I can’t find the original article to link directly, the translation follows below – Dem.

It’s 2 o’clock in the morning in Buenos Aires when the phone rings. On the other side of the line, the extra-Argentine voice asks: “Do the soccer players little cards still exist?”

Viggo Mortensen is in LA, the very same day that TTT, second part if the Rings Trilogy, is launched in the States. He’s been talking to Clar’n for almost two hours, but he doesn’t seem to care too much for the epic journey of his heroic Aragorn. His matters are much more earthly. “Do you remember that game where you threw cards onto a wall and the one which stayed closer to it won?”, he asks. “What was its name? It was ‘chupi’, wasn’t it?”

Viggo doesn’t seem to be in a hurry _after all, it’s 5 hours earlier in California_, and the conversation resembles more the one we could have with an exiled Argentinian who hasn’t been back for many years, than the interview to a celebrity who stars the most expected movie of the year. This is because despite his nordic name, the actor has a long relationship with Argentina: son to a Dane father and an American mother, Viggo was born in NY, but lived here (in Argentina) from the age of 2 till the age of 11 years old.

“I left in 1969, ” he tells us. “I came back one in ’70 and then I couln’t return ’till ’95. I am dying to come back, but I am never able to. I wanted so much to travel this year! But I am in the middle of a movie now and they won’t let me go. But next year I will be going, I swear to you. And I will invite you to eat a good ‘asado’ (Argentine barbeque). It’s been so long since I last ate real Argentine meat!”

He keeps most of the ‘must’ Argentine uses, which obviously include drinking ‘mate’ (a green infusion similar to tea but drunk in a very different way). “I drink it all the time. Without sugar, of course. And I make my own ‘dulce de leche’ (milk ‘marmelade’ without which no Argentine could survive…). And here in LA I can find lots of things, such as ’empanadas’, ‘membrillo’, ‘yerba’…,” he says with strong Buenos Aires accent. “There is an Italian place near my house which sells those things.”

-“Do you ever get nostalgic?”

“With certain things… I keep a good collection of old tangos, and I listen to them all the time. I also listen to some other Argentine singers of the moment. And some old ones. I play soccer too. There is a square near my place where Mexicans and Salvadorians gather to play. I know there is a league where Argentines play. I am a big fan of San Lorenzo soccer team, I follow the results, everything.”

-“Were you from Boedo (quarter of Buenos Aires suburbs where that soccer club is) ?”

“No, I was from downtown. The truth is that I can’t remember very well how I became a San Lorenzo fan, but I can recall I wore their T-shirt all day long.”

-“Do you follow the news of what is going on in the country?”

“I don’t have a too close contact with the country because I have no remaining friends there, nor family. But I do follow the news, and I get very sad when I hear what’s going on. But if you want to know what is really going on, you don’t have to read the North-American media.”

-“Do you have any strong memory of the country?”

“I remember boy-stuff. Barbeques, games, some streets, neighbourhoods … When I came back a couple of years ago I spent the time going through all those places … Recognizing them …”

-“Despite the long time that has passed, you haven’t lost your Argentine Spanish nor your Buenos Aires accent.”

“So they all say. It got stuck on me. But I am losing some vocabulary because here I don’t listen to Argentine Spanish, and the others are so extremely different! “

His Argentine side is not Viggo’s only peculiarity. This 44 y.o. actor, lives alone his 14 y.o. son Henry, paints really well, takes even better pictures, plays music with his band _this not so greatly, to be honest_, and writes poetry, many of them in Argentine Spanish. (A few are shown in the article: ‘Chaco’, ‘Parrillada’, ‘Otoño’,etc.) His friends define him with this words: “He never stops”.

This daring quota of constant discovery had lots to do with his acceptance of the role of Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s saga. Despite his long career as an actor, Viggo was not the first actor in taking that role. He just got an urgent call one day, when the shooting had already began, to replace th Irish Stuart Townsend on that role.

“I had to take the desition that very day’, he says. “I had to accept leaving for almost two years to shoot in New Zealand leaving my son alone. I told them ‘let me think it over’. They only gave me a couple more hours. I called Henry and told him all, he knew quite a lot about the Lord of the Rings, I knew too little. He asked ‘Who would you have to play?’ ‘Aragorn’, I answered. ‘Oh, that is cool! You have to do it!’, he answered back. Henry was 11 back then. He is 14 now.”

-“It was an offer you couldn’t reject…”

“Yet, I had to think about it. I had the impression that it was a challenge and that if I didn’t take it I would regret it. I didn’t think “It’s a huge movie”. I didn’t know it was going to be such a blockbuster. But I thought it was something important. And I am very happy that I have accepted it.

-“Did you start studying Tolkien right there?”

“I took the book with me and started reading it on the plane. I started getting more and more interested in the saga, and in the things Aragorn has that differ from other heroes.”

-“Such as…”

“In general, heroes do very brave things and then they talk and sing about their deeds. But he is different. He does the things, keeps his mouth shut and then he leaves. He is more like the Lonely Rider. In the movie even more than in the book. He has every time more and more responsibility, as the enemy grows bigger.

“When I read the book I realized it was based on a mixture of different sources, mainly of nordic mithology, things I have read as a boy. I find things there even from the ‘Mart’n Fierro’ (Argentine most popular literary saga). You could take such great things out of Tolkien’s book… “

“When I saw the first movie, I had the feeling that Jackson had been able to be faithful to the book and still show his own vision. The second movie it’s more… free as an interpretation.”

-“Where you interested in the gender?”

“Not quite so. I have memories of having read the Grimm brothers when I lived in Argentina. And I liked Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia.”

-“How is Peter Jackson like as a director? Is he easy to work with or is he too obssessed?”

“He let us do certain things, but always ‘inside’ his vision. I didn’t know very well how it would all suit. The day by day was rather chaotic. He seems to be a man with great self-confidence and he really enjoys doing this. But what he likes the most is post production. He did many things there. I was pretty much surprised by the first movie: what he put took out, what he added. And in the second movie, I was even more surprised. There are entire parts literally missing or that he put them somewhere else. So I don’t have a f****** idea of how the third one will turn out.”

-“We know you had to do some reshooting. Can you tell me which and why?”

“We went back this year to mend some little things Peter wanted to change. And he did other things, in addition. He was so successful with the first movie tha New Line gave him permision to spend some more money. I’m sure next year we’ll be back to to change some things of the third one.”

-“For those who haven’t read the book, what could they expect of ROTK?”

“I know what the book is, and I know what we shot, but I wouldn’t risk to say a word, for Peter always surprises me. He has said in public that the third part is his favorite, and so has Elijah. I don’t know what is their basis to say that, but I hope it will be true.”

-“Alec Guiness was fed up of people only remembering him for Star Wars. Do you fear the same could happen to you?”

“That is how things are. Two years ago I was in a movie directed by Sean Penn and there are many people who remember me only for that. And, perhaps, it will be so with this movie, but I can’t control that. I did the best I could and what happens next doesn’t depend on my anymore.”

-“Now that you are so popular, the attitude of people towards you have surely changed. Do fans ‘chase’ you more?

“There is this Japanese lady, obsessed with me, that sends me like 3 letters per day, all very nice… Fame braught me very good things, such as the protagonic role in Hidalgo, which wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for LOTR. But since I don’t get out much, I don’t know very well how things are out there. Yes, it is true that people stop me more, and look at me… But it doesn’t bother me to sign autographs and so. The problem is that sometimes you’re walking and feel a sudden need to scratch your ****, and it isn’t fun to be watched by people…”

Between fantasy and very real life

Viggo went a few weeks ago to a TV show with a T-shirt that read “No Blood for Oil”. In the militarits atmosphere that is lived today in America, that was seen almost as an offense. He explains us:

“The atmosphere in this country now (USA) is that if you make questions you are a traitor. It is a weird thing. The situation is very sad in all the world and USA is to blame for much of that. I wore that T-shirt because there are people who have compared the events in the movie, the struggle between good and evil, with the struggle of USA against ‘Evil’, and that made me very angry.”

“If we are to compare that, then the poor people sorrounded by a sea of soldiers that suffer in the movie resemble much more the whay they feel in Iraq and Afghanistan with ten thousand beasts coming to them. That people is invisible for the Norh-Americans. Here nobody sees the people who die starving due to economic blocks. That people is much more than the people who died on Sept, the 11th. I saw what happened in NY and Washington and I felt so sad… But many more died in Afghanistan and nobody was captured. Every time people suffer more. And that people cannot be happy with USA. Why didn’t we fight in Bosnia or Rwanda and we do fight in Iraq? It’s because of oil. And that attittude has nothing to do with the heroes of this movie. There are people who tell me I shouldn’t talk politics, but I don’t care.”

NB: The comments of Mr Mortensen are his own and may or may not not represent those of either this website or any individual staff members.

Posted in Old Special Reports on December 31, 2002 by

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