Publication: Veronica magazine
Date: Mar '04
You would think that after the three Lord of the Rings movies he would have
had enough of horseback riding, but Viggo Mortensen climbed right back in
the saddle in Hidalgo. Starting this week he rides through the desert in
We heard you were in the desert with your trailer.
Each time we were deep in the desert, I stayed in the basecamp. It
was nice because then I could be alone after an intense day of filming
with such a large crowd of people...Well, it also was being lazy. They
had to drive though the desert for an hour and a half while I was already
there. So I didn't have to get up that early!
How far are you going doing all your own stunts?
I am doing as much as possible myself because this way the director
has more possibilities. It was the same with The Lord of the Rings.
They can come much closer with the camera, instead of filming the back
of the stuntman's head. As a young lad I rode horses, so I am quite
comfortable with these beasts. I've trained with them a lot, but they
are living creatures, not machines. They can be as unpredictable as
we can be. And we didn't film on a racetrack, but in the desert and
there you have rocks and holes in the ground. Sometimes I was sorry
I was mad enough to climb on the horses myself.
You bought the horse TJ after filming?
Yes, he's now in California. I don't know why I'm this attracted to
horses. I also bought Kenny and Uraeus, my two horses from The Lord
of the Rings. For me working with animals is the same as working with
people. If you are kind and friendly and win their trust, you will get
respect. The work then becomes less stressfull and you get a better
result on the screen. The casting of TJ was as crucial as casting Zuleikha
Robinson. She is unknown but due to this movie she will get more work.
At least I hope so, because she is a great actress and gorgeous. The
movie isn't named Jazira or Frank, but Hidalgo, so if the horse isn't
interesting, you can forget the whole movie.
How did you learn Lakota?
I knew what I was saying, I learned it from Sonny Richards who playes
the old man in the wagon at the end of the movie. He is a spiritual
leader and medicine man and has helped us a lot. It's thanks to Disney
for taking that trouble. They could have shot the movie in California
with local Indians or Mexicans. But they went to South Dakota and filmed
it with Lakota people and many extras who were descendents from the
people who survived the massacre at Wounded Knee. They held a ceremony
and had brought earth from the place itself where of course we couldn't
Are you spiritual yourself?
I have always been curious about other cultures, religions and languages.
I had read a lot about the Indians and to me Crazy Horse is one of the
most important and greatest North Americans who ever lived. As a child
I found it great to play cowboys and indians and in this movie I play
both. I have made a study of the language and wanted to know exactly
what the text meant.
Can you even live a normal life?
It's a strange life but it will pass. Neither my ego or my feeling
of self-esteem will suffer. If it stops, I won't be depressed. Only
when a cousin of mine from Denmark sends me a photo from a magazine
in which you see me taking my son to school at five in the morning,
I wonder for a moment: Where was the photographer?
And what about relationships rumors?
I've read I'm still secretly married to Gwyneth Paltrow (laughs).