Mortensen Attends Rally

Lilybird writes: I’ve been a long time follower of the website and I’m a huge fan of LOTR. Thanks to you guys and the news and links you report I was one of the lucky ones to go to Trilogy Tuesday nearly a year ago.

I’m writing now because I got a chance to hear Viggo Mortensen speak last night at the Michael Moore MoveONPAC Rally in Columbus Ohio last night. I’m a huge fan of Mr. Mortensen and sent an account of the evening to one of his fansites and thought you guys might also be interested in it.

I also have some pictures I took at the event. I’m not sure if you’d like to post them or not. If you’ll let me know how to post, or who I should send them to, I’d be happy to share them with the TORN community:

Let me start by saying I, my hubby and several friends had all gotten tickets to go to Michael Moore’s MoveOn rally on October 30th in Columbus Ohio and it was literally only two hours before we were going to leave that I found out that Viggo might possibly be a guest.

I couldn’t believe it, I seriously sat there dumbfounded thinking this can not possibly be happening. But on the off chance it was true, after all Viggo has been promoting Fahrenheit 911 on his Perceval Press site for months, and Ohio is considered the biggest swing state in the country, that maybe, just maybe Viggo actually would hook up with Michael Moore for the rally.

So I made sure I had extra film, informed my husband, since he is fully aware of my Viggo fandom, and is a huge fan himself, and off we went. And as luck would have it, my political activism finally paid off. I actually got to hear Viggo speak. Here are my thoughts on the evening, before they vanish from me head.

Here’s what I can remember. We got there about five to stand in line early which meant when they opened the doors we ended up in the FOURTH row center. The podium couldn’t have been more than about twenty feet away.

The rally started about 7:30 with Laura one of the head organizers at MoveOnPAC. She announced right away that Michael Moore had several special guests. The Goo Goo Dolls and Viggo Mortensen who had flown down from Toronto especially for this. My husband looked at me as well as my friend Sarah, who I also told about the rumor and the two of them laughed with me.

Before Moore came out they showed scenes from F911, as well as outtakes of Jon Stewart on Cross Fire. The stage had the Goo Goo Doll drums, a podium, a big screen for videos and a big overstuffed red reading chair with a big blow up version of the book “My Pet Goat.” The book Bush read to the school children the morning of the 911 attacks.

Once Michael Moore came out he talked for probably 45 minutes before Viggo came out. Moore’s speech included making fun of the fact that the Pharmaceutical companies are now sending out memos to field office workers warning them that Moore is doing a documentary about HMOs and Pharmaceutical companies. He read from the memo that people should be on the lookout for a bearded heavy set man in rumpled clothes with a microphone and they have a Michael Moore hotline number in case he’s spotted. He gave us all the number. He also read from Bill O’Reilly’s new book for children. Hilarious chapter about O’Reilly’s advice for sex.

After he finished his first speech he then paused to introduce Viggo. He informed us that there was a special guest who had starred in the top grossing trilogy of all time. Moore actually spent a long minute or more talking about Peter Jackson and the films. He told the audience that Viggo had called him about a week ago and asked if there was anything he could do to help in Columbus, since Ohio is such a swing state. Moore commented how impressed he was that Viggo wanted to come and that he flew down on his own from Toronto where he has been filming a movie.

Viggo joined Moore on stage to a standing ovation from the audience with the applause going on and on. Viggo came out with a bag and in it was his speech. It was written on about three handwritten pages that I could see had writing all over including on the back. He said hello and thanked everyone for the warm reception trying to explain why he was here. He pretty much opened with “I’m here because I give a crap, and I know you’re all here because you give a crap.” He started by saying that he was just going to read some thoughts he jotted down on the plane on the flight down so he would make sure he didn’t just ramble and mumble. Then said something about “Yes, I’m just another movie star spouting off my political opinions.”

He probably spoke for about ten minutes. He spoke about his experiences with friends and family that live outside the US and what other people’s perceptions are about what America does in the world. He mentioned in particular Europe, Argentina, New Zealand, Canada. He spoke about his new friends in Toronto and about how the Canadians can’t believe we have an outdated electoral system, and no unified health care. They were shocked that we are one of the richest countries in the world and have the health care system that we do. He mentioned how important this election was around the world and that everyone was watching and paying attention to what the outcome would be. More than once he mentioned, “they’re watching.”

He talked about building a wall of ignorance one brick at a time and how we’ve alienated the world. He talked about “it’s not about being LIKED in the world, it’s about BEING in the world.” He got a huge round of applause for that one.

At one point he was trying to make points to the audience and the audience started answering with “NO” and “YES” to what I think he meant to be rhetorical questions. The audience response seemed to surprise him a little bit.

He ended encouraging everyone to get out and get people to the polls. He commented that Columbus, and Ohio may be the most important place to be on Tuesday in the world.

Those were the main points I can remember about what he said. He did not do any poetry and I so hoped he might read Back to Babylon. But after he read his pages he thanked the audience and headed off the stage.

My general perceptions about his personality on stage. He came out wearing his green jacket with the UN patch and his VOTE shirt. When Moore introduced him he took off his jacket and turned to show the crowd the back of his shirt which is a page of a calendar with November 2nd on it. He shrugged his jacket back on and approached the microphone. He spoke clearly, occasionally laughing and giggling at his own comments. He pulled on his ear A LOT, he touched his face a lot, he reached up behind with his right hand and scratched the back of his neck a lot.

At one point he got hot and shrugged his jacket off and just let it lay on the floor behind him where it fell. I noticed he’s wearing a knotted bracelet on his left arm. Some sort of blue geometric design with yellow in it. It was made of tied threads, and the threads were loose at the end. It’s dark but you can see it in the picture that’s been posted of him giving the peace sign.

I was impressed by his physical presence. He’s not a huge person, but I thought he looked really content, confident, comfortable. Not sure of the right word. I know some have speculated from pictures in Toronto that he looks thin. I thought he looked really healthy actually.

After he finished he hugged Michael Moore, grabbed his jacket off the floor and that is when he gave the peace sign as he left the stage.

He stayed in the right stage wing for the rest of the night. Bobbing along with the Goo Goo Dolls, actually singing along with part of one song, unless I misinterpreted what he was doing. He’s got a great whistle.

After the Goo Goo Dolls, Michael Moore came back out and talked, then introduced two US diplomats, Princeton Levy? and John Brown. The first person served as a diplomat to South Africa under Reagan, the first Bush and Clinton and spoke as part of the group of military and foreign officials who believe a change needs to be made.

The second diplomat to speak was John Brown. He was a US diplomat that quit while serving under George W Bush because he so disagreed with his policies. He specifically identified four reasons for why he couldn’t work for Bush. What was interested was to watch Viggo’s reaction as he watched from the wings. Brown commented on Bush’s propaganda about Iraq, and that he 1. over simplified things, 2. used repetitive phrases over and over to impact opinion, 3. Demonized anyone who spoke out against the President or the War and 4. Did not tell the Truth.

Viggo started nodding vehemently when Brown talked about people being Demonized for opposing the President and all I could think about was Viggo’s comment at the beginning when he self effacingly said that he was just another movie star spouting political opinion, and also about the response he got from Medved in the articles that came out about Viggo a while ago. He clearly seemed to respond to feeling demonized.

What also struck me was how humble and shy he really is. At the end Michael wanted everyone to come out on stage at the end of the last Goo Goo Dolls song, since they did one more after Moore and the US diplomats spoke. But Viggo didn’t come back out, just watched from the wings. He really seemed to not want to take any of the spotlight away from Moore.

And then after the Rally ended my friends and I headed around to the parking garage and saw people waiting by the stage door. We waited and eventually Viggo came out and got into a car with Moore after waving to those of us on the sidewalk. He didn’t sign any autographs, which really disappointed me, but again just seemed to confirm again that he wasn’t there for the spotlight.

We waited a while longer and the Goo Goo Dolls came out. Michael Moore had given out copies of his Fahrenheit 911 DVD after his speech and I got one, and had the Goo Goo Dolls sign it. Johnny Reznick hugged nearly every woman on the sidewalk , which included me. (Now why couldn’t Viggo have done that)

So…I didn’t get to meet Viggo in person, or get his autograph, but what I did get to experience was absolutely incredible. The entire rally was so inspiring. I know some of us have different opinions and clearly this rally was to support John Kerry and that was why Viggo was there, and it was why I was there as well. It was the coolest thing I think I’ve ever been too. The energy in the theater was incredible.

And I couldn’t believe I was in the fourth row, and even better the tickets were FREE! I got to laugh with Michael Moore, I got a free concert from the Goo Goo Dolls and I got to hear Viggo speak with passion and intensity about issues that are so important to him. The only way it could have been better would have been a hug from Viggo instead of Johnny, but I’m not complaining regardless. Johnny is pretty darn cool too.