He’s a famous actor, he’s also a poet, a musician, an artist. He’s lived all over the world, he’s multi-lingual, his best friend is his son, he can ride a horse, and he owns Aragorn’s sword. Move over, here comes Viggo Mortensen! It’s the cheese delivery! Welcome.
Hello Kristian. Hello Joakim (this is to the fish). Watch yourself, it’s Friday, and people have fish for dinner on Friday.
You speak good Danish. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Completely…tell me what you had for breakfast in Danish, and we’ll see if I understand what you’re saying.
I had sausages, cheese, bread, and a Carlsberg.
And a Carlsberg...all prejudices verified. I think we should speak English, anyway, because my English is better than my Danish.
How’s your English?
It’s alright…OK, let’s straighten this out. Are you Danish or American? You were born in New York, right?
Born in New York, yes. And my father is Danish. I’m a Danish citizen, and I’ve lived there. A few years as a teenager, and then in my twenties.
Let’s talk about this "Lord of the Rings"-hullabaloo. It’s been crazy...17 Academy Awards for all the movies together. Tell us about your memories from that…you lived in New Zealand for several years?
Yeah, on and off, all the actors were there for a good four years. Peter Jackson worked on it for eight years. His kids are only eight and six, so that’s the only way of life they know of.
With a big hairy man walking around on New Zealand for eight years. He turned a bit crazy from this, didn ’t he?
I think he already was before. Have you seen his earlier movies? "Bad taste" and "Meet the Feebles". They are all pretty disturbing.
These are all splatter-movies, right?
Is it true that you lived with your sword for all these years? That you walked around with it even off-set?
Ah, some of these stories have gotten bigger and bigger. But I did, well, I didn’t have time to practice, so when I got there, I asked permission to take the sword with me. So it was always in the car, not necessarily in the bed...
What did you do with it? Did you practice in the bathroom?
Ehm, a gentleman doesn’t really talk about that sort of thing.
won’t ask about it. Let’s refresh our memories of the
movies and see some clips of you in action.
Ah, well, when I look at it, I probably look at some things different than you guys. I see Bernard Hill, or I see Miranda Otto…or the horse in the grass.
And they only see you.
Well, you’re looking at the story and remembering the friendships, and the good and the bad days.
Did Peter Jackson ever shower during these eight years?
I’m not sure. (laughs)
I also heard that you all got tattooed, all the nine of you.
gonna take a look at yours.
What is it, is it the number nine?
It’s the word for “nine”, in Elvish.
Where is it?
It’s on one of my shoulders.
Oh, OK, we can’t even see it...or do you want to take your shirt off?
(shakes his head, smiling) No, no.
OK...calm down! (talking to the audience).
Joakim just did a spin there. (talking about the fish)
Yeah, he’s been looking at you with that strange eye of his.
He’s got an alternative lifestyle. There’s something about his eyes that’s familiar...it’s very familiar...they look a combination of Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis.
Yeah, we should have named him that. Elijah would’ve been a nice name for him.
Maybe when he travels? Checking in at hotels...
Yeah, checking in at hotels as Elijah! Well, you have so many talents. You’re a painter. This is one of your paintings. (shows one of Viggo's pictures). Do you know what it’s called?
(Viggo takes the painting and turns it around, as if the interviewer had put it up the wrong way, and laughs)
I’m so sorry.
No, I was just kidding.
Do you remember what it’s called?
No (laughs). This is done in New Zealand. It’s a lot of things I wrote down there, images of people and things. Some people call it painting, some people call it something else.
OK. (puts a picture of Elijah Wood on his desk) Is this Elijah? Yeah, that is Elijah. Do you see the eyes?
Yeah, like the fish’s eyes.
And this is one of your poems. You want to read it? "Ten Last Night", by Viggo Mortensen.
OK. (he sounds reluctant)
Do you remember it?
it’s kind of dark, isn’t it...yeah, ok.
Very nice, very nice. “Ten Last Night”.
It sounds like something Liv Ullman would have said in "Autumn Sonata", or something.
Very beautiful. And not only this, you’re acting as well. So it’s the actor, the photographer, it’s the poet and the artist, and it’s also the musician. Can I play a short piece?
(Interviewer plays "Half Fling" from "Pandemoniumfromamerica" on a tape recorder)
That’s Elijah. (he encourages the audience to clap the rhythm with him)
This is crazy. What were you smoking?
Is any of this bringing you any money, besides the acting?
Yeah, all of it is, actually, because of “Lord of the Rings” doing well, people are interested…
And the photographs are currently displayed in Denmark?
No, but they have been on display in Odense.
Great. You are so good at everything, I’m so impressed. I have to take all this stuff down before we start talking about the horse movie. ( while he moves the pictures and tape recorder, Viggo switches their glasses)
No, no, no. No way. And now you have this new movie out, Hidalgo, which is the name of a horse. You play the horse’s owner and soul-mate, and you’re competing in a desert-race.
Hidalgo is a mustang, which is a breed of wild horse found in North America. And Frank Hopkins, the cowboy I play, was a real person. And Hidalgo was a real horse, and his descendants are living in a herd in Oklahoma.
take a look. This is a scene where your character has missed the weather
forecast and is caught in the middle of a sand storm.
This horse that plays Hidalgo, TJ, he’s the smartest horse I’ve ever seen. I mean, I made great friends with the horses in New Zealand, but I also made great friends and spent a lot of time with TJ. There’s no special effects, as far as the animal reaction goes. I mean, he was either gonna be interesting or not.
OK. The sand-storm we saw here, was that created with the help of big fans, or was that done in post-production?
When I rode into the building, the had a whole bunch of canons, with these big funnels, and they loaded them with tons of dirt. And as we rode by, they shot them at us, and it almost blew us away. Well, some of it was done artificially, I mean there were beautiful days with blue skies and sunshine, like here in Sweden, and then they had to fix it with special effects. I mean, there were so many days when we didn’t need it, and then we had it, and then this one day when we need it...
That’s the rules of making a movie. I thought we’d end the interview off...it would make me very happy if you could teach me, very shortly, just a quick lesson in fencing.
(They get a sword each, and Viggo is offered a Viking helmet and a shield, but turns them down)
OK, I’ll show you the six basic positions in defending yourself.
(Gives the interviewer a fencing lesson)
Viggo Mortensen, everybody! Thank you so much, you were good at the fencing thing! Viggo! Thank you!
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