" Rings" Star
Now Changing Horses
Author: Elanor RingleGillespie
Publication: Charlotte Observer
Date: 09 Mar '04
there life after "The Lord of the Rings"? Viggo Mortensen
thinks so. Having played Aragorn, the reluctant king-to-be in all three
movies, Mortensen is switching horses (literally) and genres - from
fantasy to history. In his new movie, "Hildalgo," Mortensen
plays Frank T. Hopkins, a real-life 19th -century cowboy and endurance
rider who's invited by a sheik (Omar Sharif) to compete in a 3,000-mile
race across the Arabian desert. Hidalgo is his horse and best buddy.
In Atlanta, recently - his hair short, blond and not very Aragorn-ish
- Mortensen talked Oscars, horse and what's next.
Do you ever go to the Oscars?
I don't even watch them. I'm sure they're entertaining. But I don't
think that whoever wins is the best actor int he world. Or even
the best actor this month. It doesn't mean anything more than the guy
who makes it to the other side of the shark-infested pond in "Survivor."
attracted you to "Hidalgo"?
It's a plain-spoken, old-fashioned, entertaining movie. The simplicity
of it allows you to see much more. Like, looking for common ground
with others. I like it that, without making a big deal of it the movie
treats the Lakota nation with respect, as it does the Arab culture.
And the cowboy culture, too.
Aragorn and Frank both get caught up in big adventures. How would you
On a practical level,you have Aragorn as he's described in the book.
He's the greatest huuntsman and traveler in this age of the world. Everwhere
we go in that trilogy, he's been there at least once. He knows all the
languages, all the fighting styles. He's seen it all, and it's confirmed
in his mind that it's much better to figure out how we - elves,dwarfs,
hobbits - fit together. What we have in common. In the end, that's what
the trilogy is all about. Hopkins has not seen the world. He's got certain
feelings. He's got pride. But he's curious, and that's the first step
to being open-minded to what's different. That gives him a chance to
value comunity, in a sense, the way Aragorn does. The come at it from
a different place, but they come to a similar conclusion.
You liked Hidalgo so much, you took him home with you. Tell me about
Rex Peterson, the horse trainer, really did a good job, but he also
was lucky. He couldn't have known that TJ, the horse that plays Hidlago,
would have such a presence. He'd never been in movies before and
had such a knack for reaction. He was just uncanny. Whenever there was
discussion whether the horse should be in the shot, someone would
the last timeI looked, the movie isn't called "Frank Hopkins."
are you doing after "Hidalgo" opens?
I don't know. There's a project I may do at the end of the year in
Spain. The idea of working in Spanish appeals to me. But I don't
really have any set plans. I'm looking forward to being at home with my son
and taking care of him. And there's the DVD of "The Return of
the King" this fall, which is probably going to be quite long
and pretty interesting."