It's good to be Viggo Mortensen. This week, the talented, enigmatic actor assumes the throne as Aragorn in the most anticipated film of the year, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Mortensen arrived at our interview sipping tea out of a — well, I'm not exactly sure what it was he brought into the room. It looked like a hollowed-out Faberge egg with a metal straw protruding from the top. His hair — cut short and graying on the sides — bore no resemblance to the Bret "The Hitman" Hart hairdo that Aragorn sports in the movies. His demeanor, however — quiet, thoughtful, yet intense — was very Aragorn. Trying hard to keep my concentration while watching a man sip tea out of a Faberge egg, I talked with Viggo about what it's like to be king.
What do you feel was your defining moment in The Return of the King?
In the extended version of the first movie, there's a scene where he's at his mother's grave. It was his mother who brought him as a baby to Rivendell to be raised there like other characters in myth and in stories, whether it's Moses or Arthur or other Nordic stories where someone is hidden for their own protection and raised by non-blood relatives. So he's at his mother's grave on the morning of their departure, you know the Fellowship from Rivendell, and the father comes up and says you have this thing that you must do, you are the only heir to the throne and you have this responsibility, it's your destiny. And Aragorn says, "I do not want that power, I've never wanted it," by which he means, I'm happy to serve and be a lone ranger type and I'll do whatever is necessary to protect people but I don't want that, I'm not running for office.
In part that's because he's essentially modest. He's not an arrogant person, and that's a good thing, but he's also afraid. He's afraid of not being able to cut it, really, not being up to the task. He knows full well that, even the noblest of his ancestors, when it came down to it, failed. (They) were weak in the face of temptation and ended up doing the selfish thing. So why should he, when he is confronted with the ultimate psychological battle, which is to prove that he's pure of heart and pure of intention when he faces the dead, why should he be stronger than they were? So that's the culmination of that psychological journey. So I think in some ways that was one of the more interesting moments for the character.
Some people believe that your character in the film differs greatly
from the book version, in terms of his willingness or desire to be king.
I think all the characters have an internal battle that you see at one time or another. One of the strong points of the book and the movie is that all the heroic characters in the story have moments of doubt and weakness and fear — including Aragorn, who has obviously proven many, many times that he's brave and willing to sacrifice everything for the good of society, for the good of the group. Nevertheless, he's not always sure that he's going to be able to do it.
Is this the kind of role that you got lost in? Is that normal for you?
You sound as if you're disappointed in the editing, in some choices
Yeah. You've implied that the aforementioned scene's been cut...
Would you recommend someone see the theatrical version or the extended
version on DVD?
Howard Shore said you were composing songs during the filming, how
did the song come about at the end?
I thought of it as like a pop song, like now you can sing a Beatles song and it's got another name but you associate it with a boyfriend or a girlfriend or whatever, you know what I mean? That song served that function and did justice, I thought, to Tolkien, it was a nice thing, it was a very good thing for Frodo, I thought.
In the coronation, the words — as you can find in the book — it's exactly what Aragorn is meant to sing. Although it doesn't say what the melody is, so I just made a melody for it like I did for the other piece. I'm really glad that was included because that's Aragorn's nod to the past, to his forefathers. I imagine that all the kings since Elendil came to Middle Earth have probably repeated those same words in ceremony. So there's a ritual aspect to it, an acknowledgement of the past, which I think characters like Aragorn, Gandalf, Galadriel and Elrond, they're very conscience, as like we are, to be of the good things in them, the mistakes that were made in the past by the world of men and there's a value to that and a promise to staying the course and investing in the future.
What kind of king would Aragorn be?
When he acts irrationally or speaks irrationally, as he does, for example, to Boromir at one point when he gets very frustrated with him — again that's a scene that's in the extended version — he regrets it and makes it known that he regrets it. There's a humility to him and a concerted effort to look past the perceived differences that he might have with others. That sort of leader is the type of leader that I wish we had in this country and many other countries. I think that's a good role model to have. And all the members of the fellowship in way or another proved to have that impulse, to look for what we have in common with others other than the opposite, which is to isolate.
Don't a lot of people who desire to be king lack those qualities?
movies have made you more of a household name — how do
feel about that and the whole sex symbol status?
|Message Board - join us|