Viggo Mortensen chats with The Age newspaper about his latest movie effort, The Two Faces of January.
The voice on the phone is husky, familiar, and just a little menacing. “I was told to call this number,” the speaker says. I give a little shudder before realising it’s Viggo Mortensen, calling as planned to talk about his new film, The Two Faces of January. Phew.
He sounds a little weary, which is fair enough as he’s calling from the back seat of a car that’s taking him from downtown London, where he’s just done a couple of days of promotion, to the airport, to catch a flight to Madrid, which has been his home for the past few years. He likes it there, he says. “As a child I lived in a Spanish-speaking country, Argentina. It’s not exactly the same but there’s a lot of things that are similar. I’m comfortable there.”
An accomplished painter and photographer, Mortensen also speaks Danish – his father is from Denmark – so it is something of a paradox that in The Two Faces of January this multi-talented polyglot should play an American abroad who is out of his depth in all respects.
“It was kind of fun to speak with an atrocious accent,” Mortensen says of his character, Chester MacFarland, a seemingly well-to-do businessman on holiday in 1960s Greece with his wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst). “He’s speaking in a muddle of Greek and Italian; that was sort of a funny little touch.”
Chester is, in fact, a conman, a financial adviser who has swindled his clients out of a fortune; he’s not on holiday, but on the run. Indeed, even as he gets deeper into trouble he remains elusive.