Capone has a GOOD chat with Viggo Mortensen about politics, THE ROAD, APPALOOSA, and THE HOBBIT!!!
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
In late October, as part of the Chicago International Film Festival's Closing Night festivities, Viggo Mortensen got himself a Career Achievement Award just before a screening of what will now be his next film to be released in theaters, a strange film that examines the fluid definitions of right and wrong--a movie called GOOD. Set in the early days of the National Socialist moment in Germany, GOOD centers on a professor who wrote a harmless novel years earlier that inadvertently is serving the Nazis as a justification for their theories of racial purity and the killing of the Jewish people. The book serves as such a great inspiration and blueprint that the professor is elevated up through the Nazi ranks almost without any ambition on his part to do so. Now that the adaptation of THE ROAD has been moved into 2009, GOOD is being pushed as Mortensen's shot at an Oscar for 2008. It's a quiet, understated performance about a complicated man, who is both far from flawless and far from guilty.
I don't tend to talk about the circumstances that lead up to any interview I do, but this particular day was interesting. Mortensen only spoke to three journalists during his short time in Chicago--one from a local newspaper, one from a local TV station, and me. Just to add some context to the beginning of our conversation, we spoke about five days before Election Day in November. In addition to his memorable work in THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, THE INDIAN RUNNER, CRIMSON TIDE, THE PROPHECY (he played the motherfucking devil!), G.I. JANE, A WALK ON THE MOON, and a pair of films with David Cronenberg (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and EASTERN PROMISES), as well as the criminally overlooked APPALOOSA earlier this year, Mortensen is a fierce activist. For those of you who hate it when actors talk politics, you may be forced to skip huge sections of the beginning of our conversation, which also covers his disappointment at THE ROAD's release date getting pushed back and whether or not there's a chance he'll appear in the two-film adaptation of THE HOBBIT.
Mortensen is without a doubt one of the most engaging people I've ever talked to. His answers about any of his films are not prepared or cut down to sound-bite-ready snippets. If the spirit grabs him on any topic, he goes with it, as you'll see from the beginning of our talk. Enjoy 35 minutes with Viggo Mortensen!
Capone: One of the most lasting images I have of you--I don’t remember the interview itself that well--but you were on Charlie Rose’s show with your T-shirt that you said was handmade by you that said "No More Blood for Oil."
Capone: 2002, right. And, that was pre-invasion of Iraq, wasn’t it?
VM: It was a good six months before it.
Capone: So, it was sort of an anticipatory statement.
VM: If you were paying just a little bit of attention, I don’t think it was that hard to come to that conclusion, any more than it was for someone like Dennis Kucinich. Unfortunately, he was pretty much alone in saying, “Wait a minute,” not only about the invasion, but, then, the Patriot Act--the other thing that was jammed down people’s throat. Even Democrats called him a traitor and “What are you doing? How can you vote against the Patriot Act?” And, he goes, “I’ll tell you why, fellas: ’Cause I read it.” And, they all clammed up, ’cause they hadn’t, and they voted ‘yes’.
You get caught up in this fervor. A respectable reviewer--I think it was Time magazine--who infamously in their…typically, their reviews are fairly short…his review for THE TWO TOWERS, which was coming out the fall of 2002, said things like--and, this is coming from a journalist who’s had many years of experience writing for an international magazine that on some level represents the United States, I suppose, Timemagazine does--that “the bearded Christopher Lee bears an uncanny resemblance to Osama bin Laden, and our heroes holed up in the stone fortress are equivalent…”--I’m paraphrasing--“…to the United States and the coalition of the willing against the Muslim hordes.”
I mean, it’s ridiculous, but you get caught up in the moment, I suppose, and you do things, which is, in part, what GOOD addresses. And, why I think it works so well and why I wanted to do the movie, because, unlike almost all movies that are made about that period--most of them are about the early ’40s, but this is about the ’30s, going into 1941-2--they’re always told, somewhat, in the same way in that they’re told with the benefit of hindsight. There’s a little comfortable barrier there, a little sort of transparent curtain that allows you as an audience to sit back, gives you a comfort zone, where you can say, “Yeah, those Germans, they’re crazy, man…those crazy Germans” or, “I’m not like that. That couldn’t happen now.” There’s always that comfort area, and that doesn’t exist in this movie.
I mean, this movie is not told with any kind of ideological intent. It’s just a story about people, making little decisions and not-so-little decisions on a daily basis, just regular people with families. And, all of a sudden, things change. And, things have changed very quickly, for example, in the United States and other places in the past five, six, seven, and eight years. And, you sit now as an American voter, as a citizen, or as a politician, I suppose, and you go, “Wow, had I known things would degenerate that quickly in terms of the judicial system, environment, our reputation abroad, our foreign policy, the economy, would I not have paid a little more attention and not made compromises on this, that, and the other?”
It happens in relationships, too. There’s many relationships in the story GOOD, but one of the main ones between the two friends, that played by Jason Isaacs and my character. I’m a professor of literature, he’s a psychoanalyst. We met in 1917-18 in the First World War. We’ve been friends ever since. He’s Jewish, I’m not, but that has never been an issue with us. All of a sudden, it’s made into an issue by the current government in the ’30s, but we’re, like, ‘Yeah, whatever. They’re ridiculous.’ My character even says at one point--it’s ’33, ’34--he goes, “Hitler’s a joke. He’ll never last.” It’s like saying, “Well, look at Bush. He’s not going to elected again.”
And, then, things happen, and people get caught up in it, and they forget themselves to some degree. Like the reviewer of THE TWO TOWERS…I’m sure if he reads that review now, if he’s got any kind of conscience or thoughtfulness about him, which I’m sure he does, he has to look at that and go, ‘Wow, I really got caught up in something there. What was I doing?’ He wasn’t really referring to the benefits of the movie or the pros and cons of the movie. He wasn’t even dealing with that. He was just jumping on some crazy bandwagon. You have to be careful.
Capone: The film GOOD, I think, is one of the most convincing films I’ve seen about the way ordinary people are caught up in something larger than themselves.
VM: That’s its strength. I think that’s one of the reasons why, as specific as it is, which it is--it’s very beautifully designed and photographed and the settings--it’s very accurate in terms of a period movie. But, it’s really, in some sense, you could say it’s not really about Germans or Germany or even the ’30s. It’s, like you say, it’s about people making these decisions and these compromises…and ordinary people, and kind of ending up where they didn’t expect to.
Capone: Yeah. I did find it interesting that the character you play in the movie spends a lot of time denying his own history, in a way. When people say, “You were a war hero,” he goes, “Well, I didn’t really see much action.” And, then, regarding the novel he has written, he makes sure to say it’s just fiction--not any kind of guidelines or blueprint, but they turn it into one.
VM: Well, there’s a combination of modesty and also not wanting to take responsibility.
Capone: That’s what I mean. I don’t want to call him ‘spineless’, but he retreats from his own history.
VM: Yeah, and people find that…it’s uncomfortable, because when people hear it’s another movie set in that period in Germany, ‘Oh, I know what that is’, and they go in there expecting something, a tour de force like SCHINDLER’S LIST. Or, they expect something like DOWNFALL--God knows what they expect--and then, they get something quite different. They get something where…and I’ve had this reaction, which is interesting, where someone…I mean, they care enough about it, they want to make this comment, “Well, you know, I was really into it, and I was going along, and I was going, ‘Yeah, I can see that’, and then all of a sudden, he’s got the Nazi uniform on. That’s bullshit.” I say, “Is it bullshit?” “No, it’s not bullshit, but I wasn’t comfortable with that.”
And, I say, “Well, that’s a whole different thing.”
Capone: That’s the point. That’s the turning point of the film.
VM: Yeah, exactly, and when you’re telling me, I say, “I’m not going to say for sure that’s what you’re saying to me, but…” to the person that says that, I say, “Consider the fact that, perhaps, you identified with this person and his choices and his circumstances.” “Well, yeah, I can see that.” And then, you got to a certain point, and you go ‘No!’ Well, is that because ‘No’ it’s impossible, or you don’t want to see yourself that way? You identify.
Capone: It’s another hindsight thing. You know where it’s going, so you’re, like, ‘I would never do that’.
VM: Yeah, it’s interesting, because I do think that if you showed the first 10–15 minutes of this movie to someone and then said, “Okay, cut to the last 10 minutes,” you’d go, No way. Only in the movies can a guy like that, who’s thoughtful, who’s a family person and all that, you know, kind of a decent member of society, and an academic to boot, so he’s thoughtful. And, he shows right at the beginning that when they say, “You’ve got to ban this writer,” he makes some sarcastic remark, because he knows exactly why--’cause he’s Jewish--“Why? Because he’s French?” He goes, “Come on. Don’t be obtuse,” and all that.
So, he’s thoughtful and has a conscience. And, then, at the end, to be in uniform, you say to yourself, if you saw only those two sections--the start and end of it--you go, “Well, only in the movies. There’s no way you can get from that, point A, to point R or S or whatever. That just doesn’t happen.”
But, if you see the whole movie, it’s just, like, if you look, if you just go back through the last eight years in the United States, you go, ‘Yeah, a lot of things can change very quickly, given the right circumstances, given the willingness of individual citizens to go along.’
Capone: Yeah. Are you going to stick around in town until Tuesday for the big election rally?
VM: Unfortunately, I won’t be here, but I would love to be here. I bet that’s going to be something, if--knock wood--I’m not going to be counting on it happening for sure, but it looks good. And, I think, if it doesn’t, it’s going to smell funny…Obama winning! We should actually say what we’re talking about! [laughs]
Capone: We’re in Chicago. We know what’s going on. It was interesting. When I was watching the film, I thought it was going to go in a very different direction. I thought he was going to become drunk with power the more he rose through the ranks, and there’s really only one scene [like that], the scene where he forces the guy who’s selling train tickets to sell him that ticket. That’s really the only time he ever even uses his…
VM: But, that’s not about being drunk with power. He uses it for a purpose.
Capone: But, that’s the only time he exercises that power on somebody.
VM: Well, I don’t think he’s comfortable, even in the uniform. It’s a funny thing. But, there are moments where this character--and that’s the part where people don’t want to…they’ll say, “I wouldn’t go there”--because it’s uncomfortable. Or, maybe there’s an element of them having seen me in another movie and going, ‘Oh, he’s going to do something at some point’. And, it’s not. He just keeps going down, down, down.
And, the moment where he’s in uniform, he’s sitting there and getting dressed. The wife says, “What’s the matter? I’ve never seen you this, kind of, upset or stressed out.” And, he goes, “I just don’t know what to do.” And, yet, he’s still putting his uniform on, buttoning it as he’s saying, “I don’t know what to do.” He’s supposed to go out that night and do…he doesn’t know what, supervise on Krystallnacht, as it turns out to be called, from all the broken glass in the Jewish shops, all over Germany that night, November 9. And, he says, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
And, then, when she says, “Look at yourself,” and he sees himself in full SS dress, looking at himself in the mirror, he knows there’s something wrong with this picture. But, instead of saying, ‘Wait a second’ and taking the uniform off, what he does is what we often do when we’re faced with a stressful thing, and we know we’re in the wrong. He’s, like, ‘Well, I just got to do this one thing. I got to go out and do Krystallnacht, then I’ll think about the uniform tomorrow’. No, no, no, you need to think about it now.
If there’s anything that this movie maybe says it’s “Pay attention. Pay attention.” It doesn’t mean you have to be aware of everything and solve every problem, ’cause that’s what people’s reactions sometimes are. This is not in any way a message movie, but when people think that they’re being told…Let’s say if you write a review and you say, “Well, this movie tells us that…” Well, fuck him. Well, I don't need to be told that I don’t do enough. I know that. And, people’s reaction to all these problems in the world, in Africa, in our own country, the economy, and so on, you feel bewildered, You’re, like, It feels like it’s either black or white. Either I’ll just, like, devote my life to trying to do good, or I’ll do nothing. But, there’s an in-between area. It doesn’t mean you should do everything, or can, as a citizen, or a family person, or a friend, or whatever. But, just do something. You’re on your honor. Basically, it’s your own conscience that will tell you are you doing quite enough to where you can feel okay about yourself, or are you not? Only you can answer that.
And, any government, whether it’s a democracy--in principle, a good government or a bad government, no matter where it is in the world--all governments, no matter how good they are at any point in time, have a single purpose, a goal, and that is to survive, to stay in power. And, you stay in power by making people feel powerless. That’s one of the ways: you make individual citizens feel, like, ‘Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it. Don’t sweat it. Truly, you are powerless, but it’s okay. Just be powerless and vote for me. It’s cool. Trust me.’ You know what I mean?
That’s what happens when you don’t take action when you know you should. There are moments, and you do know it. And, in that moment, he knows, when he’s putting the uniform on. And, there’s a reason why he avoids seeing his friend after a while. You don’t want to hook up with your best friend if you know you’re doing something wrong in your personal life or professional life, ‘cause they’re like a mirror--your best buddy or your mom or whatever it is, or your wife, or your son, or your father. You look them in the eye, and they’re, like, “You’re wearing that uniform.” “Yeah, I know, but it’s just…I got to wear the uniform.” He had an argument with Jason Isaacs, my character with his best buddy. At one point, he goes, “Well, at least I’m in the system, so I can at least have some say in the matter and control it.”
Capone: I’ve heard that argument before: If I’m in it, I can throw a wrench in it.
VM: How many times do you get Congressmen saying, “Well, I had to vote for the Patriot Act in order to get some other things done” or “At least I’m in there. It’s a means to an end.”? You’ve seen Obama do it in the campaign. What I hope happens, if Obama wins is that the movement he’s inspired, which is considerable, pushes him to take positions on certain things that he hasn’t in a very strong way or complete way in some areas in the campaign lately.
Bobby Kennedy, ’68 before he got shot…We think of him as an anti-Vietnam War candidate. He wasn’t against the Vietnam War. It was the movement that he inspired that pricked his conscience and on a practical, political level forced him to take that position, which he knew was right. But, he didn’t feel it was politically expedient. It became politically expedient when this mass of people he inspired of all colors and ages and walks of life were saying, “We want out of Vietnam.” So, I’m hoping that…I think Obama’s got a lot of integrity, but I do think any elected official…that’s what it is. Participatory government needs to be kept honest.
That’s the mistake we sometimes make in this country and probably other countries, too, where every four years or every two years, whatever, there’s an election. You do the “Whew, that’s done. We got the right guy in there. Now, we can relax.” And, that’s kind of like saying, “Yeah, we’ll let them take care of it.” No, we never can let them take care of it. That’s the point. And, you don’t have to be the PTA- or local politics-obsessive, crazy guy or woman in your community, but you can be involved on some level. At least read the paper, talk to your friends.
Capone: Moving on to something slightly lighter, but still related to GOOD. A lot of your more recent films have taken a sort of philosophical look at violence, and I’m wondering, Does GOOD fit into that at all? It is in an obtuse way dealing with it.
VM: I don’t know. I haven’t been conscious of picking those types of roles. I do think that most stories, and certainly stories I’ve been involved with, where they’re dealing with relationships or people dealing with people, in any way, whether they know each other well or not…in the end, it’s about affection or, if you want, about love--the giving of it, or the withholding of it, or denying it to someone, or rejecting it, if offered. You know what I mean? It’s that tension, and I think that those stories…the dramatic part of those stories that interests me--and, I think, any good story, the dramatic part of the story, what makes it interesting, why you’d want to go see it, why you’d want to talk about it afterwards--comes from those moments or periods of time, whether it suddenly happens or it’s a gradual realization, that things are not what they seem. That’s, I think, the source of drama in our lives and in books and movies, ’cause, I think, you, me, when we get up in the morning, we build our character, basically. I mean, we do, whether you’re conscious of it or not. You set yourself up for the day: ‘I want to shave, do this or that, trim the beard…I want to wear this today, because I’m going to meet these people, and I’m going to present myself in this way’. Whether you’re conscious of it or not, we do. We get up, and we build a persona to go out into the day.
But, our way of looking at the state of the nation, the state of the town, the state of our sports team, our loved ones, whatever it is, it’s what we want it to be, on some level. In other words, I think that we live in a dream world most of the time. And, it can be like a bus almost hits you, ’cause you’re daydreaming, or it can be the towers were knocked down in 2001, or suddenly, you got no umbrella, and it’s pouring rain. It can be anything. Or, you just get a phone call, and your mom’s in the hospital. Or, Obama lost. It could be anything. It could be small things, too, that just snap you out of that dreamworld that we kind of, for our mental survival, live in most of the time. And, it’s, like, ‘Whoa, this is here. It’s raining’. Things are not what they seem, or what I thought they seemed. They are this. It’s this that’s happening…and then what? The foundation of drama is that suddenly or gradually, you realize things are not what they seem. And, then, what are you going to do about it?
Capone: You just named a bunch of things that wake you up from that state that are all negative. Are there any positive things that function that way?
VM: No, you’re right, you’re absolutely right. That’s a good point. No, it can be…something wonderful happens. Or, you meet someone, you’re not even looking to, let’s say, fall in love, and, all of a sudden, you have this connection. Well, you and I are having a conversation, and you just said something that made me say, “Oh, yeah, that’s true.” You get turned around, and it either adds to what you’re saying, or it changes your mind completely about what you’re talking about or how you’re perceiving something. That happens a lot.
And, I don’t think that, even though as a writer, if I’m writing poems, a lot of times they come out of something that’s painful or difficult, complicated in some negative sense, and you’re trying to make it better or describe it correctly to get past it. It’s true, just like, a lot of times, for an actor, the roles that are written a little better are the ones that are a little bit darker sometimes. But, to me, I always look at my job, whether it’s in this role or any other one, it’s, like, ‘Okay, that’s what it says the person is like, and that’s what he sounds like, and those are the words he uses and how he interacts with other characters, but when is he not that way? Or, could he be a different way entirely?’ I mean, I always look for that, because I think people are complicated. Certain moments that are very simple, all of a sudden, and that’s that…Okay, all that stuff goes away, and you’re looking at someone, like we’re looking at each other right now, thinking whatever we’re thinking.
But, a lot of times, the roles are just on the page where you don’t have to put that much into it. The ones that are a little darker or negative sometimes are more interestingly written--the bad guys, the bad girls. And, it’s the same thing, if I’m trying to describe something that would be a wake-up call. I tend to…I was describing all negative things, you’re right, you’re right.
Capone: I can finally use some of my APPALOOSA questions I didn’t get a chance to ask, because I’ll tell ya’, I loved the hell out of that movie. I mean, truly.
VM: I just got back from Rome film festival. And, you’re in Italy, and you’re thinking, ‘What are they going to say?’ They loved it.
Capone: They love Westerns.
VM: Yeah, they really do. And, I also was in Argentina to open it down there. They really, really liked it, and they got all the little subtle things about the relationship, even though they’re seeing it with subtitles, you know. They totally got it.
Capone: The people I knew who went and actually saw it, adored it. It reminded me that you’re very underrated for your sense of humor in films. Even in LORD OF THE RINGS, you inject just little lines and bits of humor.
VM: I try to, yeah.
Capone: But, APPALOOSA is half a comedy to me, because it is funny. It’s just good to see you and Ed Harris play loose and bantering.
VM: Yeah, it was fun. It was enjoyable.
Capone: The gentle jabbing was my favorite. I could just watch you guys sit on a porch for two hours and do that. It was great.
VM: [laughs] I love that scene with the coffee, where he’s freaking out…where he’s asking me, “What do she want to know?”
“She wants to know if you’re married.”
“What did you say?"
"I said I didn’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know?”
No, it was good. That was like, what is it, like the “The Honeymooners.”
Capone: Just that whole three-way relationship and that scene where you tell Renée Zellweger, “You’re with him, and I’m with him,” and that’s the movie. That’s the key line there, is that it’s a three-way relationship.
VM: She was good, too, the way she jumped right in when she was telling me that they were building a house. And, I’m, like, “Oh, really, thanks for telling me!”
Capone: And, of course, it’s always good to see you back up on a horse.
VM: Yeah, I enjoyed it. Yeah, I’m glad that movie worked as well as it did. You never know with Westerns. They don’t make that many. It was hard for Ed to get it together. As lush and beautiful as everything looks in that movie--I mean, it looks like a $50 million movie, easily, or more--that movie is, like, a $20 million movie. I mean, nobody got paid very much, but it was very inexpensive. It was almost, like, on the line of a good-sized independent movie, you know. It was good. I’m glad it’s doing well, and it’s translating well in the other countries. France--they reallyloved it.
Capone: That’s great. Are you a little disappointed that THE ROAD has been pushed back?
VM: Yeah, I wanted to see it, sooner than later. I want to see how it’s all turned out.
Capone: Forgetting the awards talk and all that, I’m saying just to get it in front of people. Was the decision made from a business standpoint?
VM: Well, no, I don’t think it’s so much to do with it, if that’s what you’re alluding to, that there are so many other movies coming out?
Capone: No, I’m just thinking that Weinsteins might just have trouble getting all their movies out before the end of the year.
VM: Well, that could be, but I don’t think it’s that. My understanding is that they know that they’ve got a story that a lot of people want to see, because of the book. And, the people that read the book, which are many, were very moved by it and by this relationship between this boy and this man, in particular, in that setting. And, I think that they are really aware of the fact that they’ve got one chance to do it, and if there’s any little things that they still want to work on a little more, to get it just right, whether it’s the music--I don’t know what it is--a variety of things, they want to do it right. And, if you rush it out before you feel in good conscience it’s there…So, I am disappointed. I wanted to see it. I want to see how it is.
But, if they think they need a little more time, then I’d rather they took it than didn’t. There’s the thought, ‘Well, maybe, we can sneak in and get an award, nomination or something, or make some money right now’. And, then, you think about it later and go, ‘Well, if we only had done this and that, we really would have finished it, and then they really would have liked it’ or something. It doesn’t bother me that much.
What I hope they don’t do is then just put it out in February or something. I hope they wait and do it at the right time. I don’t know. Do you think it’s a fall thing?
Capone: Not having seen it, I can’t really judge it.
VM: I mean, you know the book.
Capone: Yes, of course. It does seem like this would have been the right time to put it out. But, if they can only support so many films at the end of the year…
VM: If they put it out next year, do you think they should wait until this time? Or, do you think putting it out in the spring is okay?
Capone: I think spring is fine. I think you’re right…January, February, March, probably not so much, but, April, May, that would be…
VM: And then what? And, then, hope that people remember it?
Capone: It happens more often than people think it does, I think. There’s usually one or two films that stay in people's minds through the summer.
VM: Or, they release it again or put out the DVD in the fall?
Capone: Well, that…actually it will probably hit DVD around the time that people would start looking and thinking about…
VM: …the year’s movies.
Capone: Exactly, right, exactly. I mean, we’re already putting together those lists now.
VM: For next year?
Capone: For this year, yeah.
VM: And there are a couple from earlier in the year?
Capone: I go back all the way to the beginning.
VM: Do you?
Capone: Yeah, and just work my way through, month by month.
VM: What movie can you think of from the beginning of the year that might make your list?
Capone: Quite a few of the best foreign films I see each year come out in the first six months. Then you get movies like SNOW ANGELS or THE VISITOR
VM: I liked that movie a lot.
Capone: That’s a perfect example of one from early in the year.
VM: Richard Jenkins is awesome.
Capone: And, he’ll get a nomination.
VM: Think so?
Capone: Without a doubt in my mind, yeah. He’s terrific.
VM: Oh, great. I love him.
Capone: And, that’s a perfect example of a movie from the first half of the year that I think people will hold on to.
So, I’ve got to ask this, or I'll lose my job…
VM: THE HOBBIT? [laughs]
Capone: Yeah. I’m guessing that Peter Jackson has not contacted you about participating, but would you even want there to be a place for you?
VM: Well, the first movie, if it’s going to be the book, I’m not in the book.
Capone: Right, exactly.
VM: The second movie, I would think they would do for story fun and also for economic reasons, I’m sure.
Capone: I would think it would link THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RING.
VM: Yeah, but that’s what I’m saying. They would do that, using what they legally have the right to, which I assume are the appendices of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. I don’t think they have the right to take whatever they want from the SILMARILLION, for example, but they could take from the appendices.
For example, we shot a sequence, Liv Tyler and I, and it’s in Lorien, and we’re walking around, and it’s when I’m still…you know, I’m wearing clothes that are more like something you’d see Legolas wearing. I have no beard. I have really long hair, and it’s partly in a braid. And, I’m wearing definitely elvish kind of clothing. I look like some young elvish lord. And, I think, I’m barefoot, walking in these flowers with her. And, we’re in that courtship period, you know, and because of our aging thing, we look similar. I look a little younger than usual, the no beard helps and all that.
And, it’s a memory, right, and it was meant to be used as one of those moments where I’m remembering something about her. They didn’t use it. So, they could use that, and then they could shoot other things in that vein. I don’t know, they could make up a certain amount of things that would be in the spirit of Tolkien, I have no doubt. People ask me about it a lot, and I say, obviously, “Nobody’s come to me,” but I won’t be surprised if they do, if I’m right for it in their eyes. Obviously, as an actor who originated on film that role, I’d rather finish the job, all things being equal, meaning, Is it a good script, and do they have their shit together, than see another actor do it.
Capone: Right. Well, yeah, yeah, nobody wants that.
VM: I mean, I’m as interested in principle in the idea as, maybe, some of your readers are. [laughs]
Capone: Well, that’s good to hear.
VM: Yeah, why not?
Capone: So what’s after THE ROAD for you? What’s coming next? Anything with David Cronenberg?
VM: Well, you never know. I mean, we talk a lot. To be honest with you, the last job I said ‘yes’ to--it must have been in September, October of last year, 2007--that was when [director] John Hillcoat offered me the role of the father in THE ROAD. And, at the time…Well, my agent said, “This man would like to talk to you. You want to call him about this?” And, I said, “Oh, that book. It’s a good book, but you know I don’t…”
They said, “I know you’ve said you’re really fried,” which I was, I was going back to back…I went from GOOD right into APPALOOSA with no prep time, other than on my own, looking at photographs and trying to build some kind of character, and talking on the phone with wardrobe people and stuff. But, I knew I’d show up a day or two before to jump on a horse I barely knew. But, at least, I knew how to ride. I knew it was Ed, so we would figure it out.
It went well, but I was already pretty tired, and I’m fried now. And, I was saying, “I need to take a little break.” And, when you say you want to take a break as an actor, people think he stops, goes off the set, and he’s taking a break. No, it’s, like, stopping a ship on the Great Lakes, one of those big freighters, and you say, “I wanna stop the boat’ or ‘I wanna turn the boat, one way or another’. You got to plan that miles ahead, because of all these promotional commitments that go with it, which I’m happy to do, obviously, and more so, when it’s a movie that you believe in, like, I do believe in GOOD, for example, and I want to really make sure it gets a chance. It deserves it.
But, even though I said I’m not going to do anything more than a year ago, I’m still working, working, working--finishing the movies, reshoots, promotion--I’ll be doing it into January. So, I have said ‘no’, which is not easy. When you want to get a job, that old cliché, you can’t find one, and when you don’t want one…[laughs].
And because of being nominated for awards this past winter and so forth, and just accumulation of good stories that I’ve been able to be part of in recent years, I’ve been offered more good scripts by more talented people this year than ever in my whole career. And so, it’s hard to say ‘no’, but if I don’t, I’m not going to stop for a bit. I just want to stop, so I can recharge and figure out and deal with family and other things I like to do. So, the short answer is No, I have no plans at all to do anything. I still, probably always will…like acting as a storytelling, as a way of telling stories, but I could just as easily do a play where I don’t have to do promotion after the play is over. I don’t know.
Capone: Plus, you want to keep your calendar open in case Guillermo del Toro calls you.
VM: Well, you never know. [laughs] Yeah, that would be hard to turn down, if it was the right thing, but, I think that’s a ways off.
Capone: Yes, it is.
VM: When are they making the first one?
Capone: I believe they start shooting in the fall of next year.
VM: So, there’s two years before I’d even have to work for him.
Capone: That's assuming they don't shoot them all at once again.
VM: Well, if they do that, then it could be earlier.
Capone: Viggo, thank you so much. And enjoy the evening tonight with your award. Congratulations on that.
VM: Yeah, thanks. And I hope people like the movie. It was great to meet you. Thanks.
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Dec. 3, 2008, 10:17 a.m. CST
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:18 a.m. CST
I am Yanosh!
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:19 a.m. CST
you have been a bad Monkey!
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:20 a.m. CST
he's suffering from Carpathian kitten loss.
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:20 a.m. CST
that is all....
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:22 a.m. CST
HE IS VIGGO, YOU ARE LIKE THE BUZZING OF FLIES TO HIM...did I already say that?
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:23 a.m. CST
something about carpathian kitten loss. I'm going insane talking to myself
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:25 a.m. CST
Careful,or Viggo will send Yanosh....GHOST NANNY!!!!!
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:25 a.m. CST
Careful,or Viggo will send Yanosh....GHOST NANNY!!!!!
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:27 a.m. CST
How is it, I'm here in the year 1989 talking to myself?????
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:27 a.m. CST
I love Viggo, his work with Cronenberg is brilliant and he was by far the best thing in Apaloosa.
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:27 a.m. CST
It's really slow and boring until Viggo Mortensen turns up and shifts the whole thing into a different gear.
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:31 a.m. CST
by Mr Gorilla
Viggo was a star ever since Carlito's Way.
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:33 a.m. CST
That's in between The Hobbit and LotR. Can Jackson use the material from Unfinished Tales?
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:49 a.m. CST
will be released. If more time means perfecting the film, then I'm ok with it. But I still want to see a trailer; or at least a teaser. 1/2 Blood Prince was also supposed to be released this year but pushed back to next and we've had 1 teaser and 2 trailers.
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:50 a.m. CST
by Shut the Fuck up Donny
I suspect Capone's interviews will be no longer than two pages come January. <p> That being said, it was a good interview. Viggo is a good actor that doesn't get overused. He and his agent are smart in keeping him in good, dynamic roles, but never overexposing him.
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:54 a.m. CST
is a class act. and seems like really great guy in general. I can't wait for The Road.
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:56 a.m. CST
Another Bush=Hitler tirade. Enough of this BS, ok?
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:01 a.m. CST
by Dwide Shrewd
Oh, the Silmarillion. Viggo Mortensen is too fucking cool.
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:09 a.m. CST
by Mr. Nice Gaius
Great interview; Viggo is the man. I share his disappointment with the status of THE ROAD. While I'm all for Hillcoat making sure he "gets it right", I hope there aren't other behind-the-scenes forces at work.
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:14 a.m. CST
He seems like a very thoughtful guy. I'd forgotten about him in some of those earlier movies.
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:15 a.m. CST
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:16 a.m. CST
by Mr. Nice Gaius
...I would love to see Viggo come back in some capacity. I think his performance as Aragorn was one of the main reasons why Jackson's LOTR worked so well.<P>However, I just watched HELLBOY II the other day. I'm afraid to say that I'm a little worried now about which Guillermo del Toro will be showing up in THE HOBBIT director's chair. Creature design aside, HELLBOY II was a disaster and a large step back from something as accomplished as PAN'S LABYRINTH.
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:16 a.m. CST
by Karl Childers
The only movie that was on my must see list for this latter part of 2008.
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:16 a.m. CST
I saw some of his Native American photography at a gallery here in DC. Very talented guy on many levels.
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:26 a.m. CST
by D o o d
boring and arrogant!
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:39 a.m. CST
It just sucks the credibility out of anything you're trying to say. I happen to agree with most of what he says on the political front but even I can't help rolling my eyes when Hitler comes up in the same breath as Bush, even if it's not a direct comparison. Best avoid on all counts.
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:41 a.m. CST
by Leopold Scotch
search for and catch Gollum would be pretty kick ass.
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:50 a.m. CST
the Bush/Hitler comparisons. I don't like it, I think it's stupid and irresponsiable, but I didn't like the "if Obama doesn't get elected something is fishy" comment, it was what 52, 48..53, 47 spilt something like that..It just means that America is very polorized right now and the elction could have easily swung the other way. It doesn't mean there is some vast republican conspiracy to keep Obama out of the White House. It's almost, but not quite, as bad as Perot in '92 accusing the GOP of bugging his home and trying to sabatouge his daughter's wedding<P>that all said, I agree alot with what Viggo was saying, and I think he really is an amazing actor
Dec. 3, 2008, 11:55 a.m. CST
Nice to hear from an actor with some substantive things to say every now and then. Well done.
Dec. 3, 2008, 12:13 p.m. CST
by Darth Macchio
your Mother's feces.....or we can talk.<p>My absolute favorite line in "The Prophecy" (the one with angels, not mutant bears) next to The Walken's line "You should join us...you get to kill...all day and night!"<p>Mortensen is a great/huge talent and brought such grace to the character of Aragorn...absolute pitch-perfect casting. Eatern Promises was excellent in that it accomplished the realism guys like Greengrass are after without having the idiot use of shaky-cam inducing motion-sickness or general 'wtf just happened' in the casual viewer. Cronenberg is also a huge talent (I still love his version of The Fly). These guys effortlessly put story and character above their own egos. Either that or they have no traditional ego and just make great movies...either way...keep them coming!!!
Dec. 3, 2008, 12:20 p.m. CST
by Right Bastard
...but I still want to hear about what it was like for him to be married to Excene from X.
Dec. 3, 2008, 12:40 p.m. CST
Great interview. I didn't realize Mortensen was so conversational - almost asking as many questions as he was asked. He comes across much differently on nighttime talk shows.
Dec. 3, 2008, 12:51 p.m. CST
F**kin DIAPERS man!! Kill me, man, just f**ckin kill me... I can't walk, I can't hump!!! I remembered him from Young Guns II, and when I saw him in Carlito's Way I was blown away by his talent. The accent and his total self-hatred for being a rat and paralyzed. Awesome small role, and he brought so much to it.
Dec. 3, 2008, 12:52 p.m. CST
How come no on my DVD? What's the big idea Jackson? You can show me a cobbler spending 8 years of his life linking chain mail, but no deleted scenes? I'd love to see the footage of Liv Tyler showing up at Helms Deep, and the other woman fighting in the caves below. Their must be lots of other cool scenes. I'm hoping some scretly filmed Scouring of the Shire footage is released some day. That's like the Squid of Lord of the Rings.
Dec. 3, 2008, 12:59 p.m. CST
by Stuntcock Mike
Someone had to say it. Bring on "The Road!"
Dec. 3, 2008, 1:03 p.m. CST
I gues you havent actually READ Lord of the Rings, huh?<p>Don't get me wrong, I love the movie and think that, mostly, vigo does a fine job with the part as written. However, the operative phrase is "as written." If Peter and Co. had actually been looking for someone to fill the role of Aragorn as depicted by Tolkien, Vigo wouldn't have even made it to the casting couch or whatever.
Dec. 3, 2008, 1:05 p.m. CST
What's funny about that? You just wish you were banging Denny's hot tongue-studed wife.
Dec. 3, 2008, 1:08 p.m. CST
Pretty much describes every role Vigo has ever been in. Hell, he's whispering for 80% of LOTR's Aragorn dialogue!
Dec. 3, 2008, 1:11 p.m. CST
I've been a fan of Viggo's since watching his Satan steal the Prophecy from Walken back in 1995. Excellent interview. Thanks.
Dec. 3, 2008, 1:13 p.m. CST
I read the book and it was difficult to get through. Very dark, depressing stuff. I can understand why the studio would not release this during the holiday season.
Dec. 3, 2008, 1:37 p.m. CST
by Mullah Omar
Everybody who uses that phrase should be incarcerated until they agree to stop the meaningless hyperbole.
Dec. 3, 2008, 1:50 p.m. CST
by Darth Macchio
I have read Lord of the Rings (my favorite book in fact) and if we were going purely from the written word, nothing in Jackson's movie trilogy would be redeemable for the most part...but as filmed, can you think of someone who would have done more justice to the role given to him? There are others who would have done a good job to be sure...but Viggo brought something great and subtle to the portrayal...in my opinion of course.
Dec. 3, 2008, 1:52 p.m. CST
by sean bean
or hear a story about Viggo he comes across as an awesome guy. Amazing actor, too. Damn him!
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:04 p.m. CST
by Samus Aran
Why are people so willing to accept the mutilation of "The Hobbit"? First we have a director that made a good movie, but demonstrated that his style is completely different from Tolkien. Then this same director has been quoted as saying that he hates all things Tolkien, and now there is talk about including Aragorn in The Hobbit, thus showing a collective greater love for Viggo Mortensen than for JRR Tolkien. <P> Why do you people even watch these Tolkien movies if you dont hold the original stories as sacred on even the smallest level? If you like Viggo Mortensen so much then go watch Hidalgo or History of Violence. Why is your chance to see Viggo Mortensen again more important than getting Tolkien's "The Hobbit" exactly as he intended it? Why not throw Boba Fett in there as well then if you just like to see cameos. I am fully prepared to watch Guillermo Del Toro destroy Tolkien, I will not be caught off guard. I liked Pan's Labyrinth enough, But that is not what The Hobbit should be like. Please show some respect. <P> I have loved this book since I was old enough to love any book. Guillermo Del Toro is just the flavor of the month. He's like a pretty whore. Let's fuck him and be on our way. Well with Pan's Labyrinth, we already fucked and paid him, so can we go home now? Why do we keep dragging that pretty whore around and introducing the whore to our parents. Do you people really want to marry that whore? How about we marry someone with more substance?
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:10 p.m. CST
Great job. BTW Viggo sounds like an insufferable prick. What an asshole!!!!!
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:14 p.m. CST
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:15 p.m. CST
Chill out. I LOVE the LOTR movies but they do not hold a candle to the books. Of course they all have to be "Hollywood-ized" in some form or another. If they followed the books all the way, we wouldhave to watch 10 movies and they would all be rather boring. Great as books. Dull as movies w/o being made Hollywood. I think Jackson respects the books a ton. I think picking Del Toro was a great idea. And Jackson and that woman who did the storyline on LOTR will be there for The Hobbit. You need to relax. There has never been a movie that was better than the book it was based on. Wait until A Song of Ice and Fire is brought to HBO. No way is it going to be close to the books, which truly are amazing works.
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:25 p.m. CST
What movie were you watching? I loved Hellboy II, everyone I have spoken with who saw the movie loved it, it is at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe you're just an idiot?
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:27 p.m. CST
by Samus Aran
Well I am not really criticizing the LOTR movies. They were not perfect by any means, but they were a hell of a lot better than I worried they would be. I did not expect them to be verbatim like the books, at least not in pacing. I only expected them to match visually the intentions of tolkien, and in many ways I think they did just that. However in many ways I also think that they didn't think they match his visual intentions. My opinion. <P> I also never cared for it when the movies presumed to show parts of the story which were never directly present in the books. I felt these scenes dispelled the precious dark and ominous tone of the story. If Del Toro puts Aragorn in the Hobbit, it will be nothing more than fanfare, and fanfare to the most shallow of fans at that (you know, the fans that barely were aware of The Lord of the Rings before the movies came out). <P> I think Del Toro is going to interject his own personal style into the Hobbit very heavily. He has expressed a lack of respect for Tolkien in the past, and I see no reason to just hope that he will change his mind once he gets started on this movie. I picture a bunch of Tim Burton swirlies everywhere, and Trolls that dont look like trolls, Goblins that dont look like goblins, and most horribly a Smaug that doesnt look like a dragon. Everything will be "Guillermoized". I pray that I am wrong- I really would love one last good movie in my lifetime to look forward to. I like movies.
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:27 p.m. CST
Google: Good nazi viggo Not that hard...
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:29 p.m. CST
And steampunk dwarves.
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:29 p.m. CST
That's a fuckin great idea! Make this happen NOW! Thanks, Samus Aran (love your screen name BTW).
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:30 p.m. CST
by Mr. Nice Gaius
88% on Rotten Tomatoes???!!! Oh my! Whatever am I going to do with MY opinion?!<P>Dude, I enjoyed the first HELLBOY but I was greatly disappointed by HELLBOY II. It's as simple as that. Sorry if you can't deal.
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:33 p.m. CST
by Samus Aran
Is there any book or movie that is sacred to you that I can piss on?
Dec. 3, 2008, 2:47 p.m. CST
by Mr. Nice Gaius
I think the general consensus is that del Toro and Jackson don't have any plans to include Aragorn in THE HOBBIT. A cameo by him would be reserved for the second "bridge" movie only - the one that's supposed to cover various events including the 60 year gap between HOBBIT and LOTR.<P>Also, I think del Toro has already gone on record to clarify what he said about Tolkien. Apparently, he was greatly misunderstood as he admitted having difficulty reading and getting into LOTR when he was young. However, THE HOBBIT is supposedly one of his favorite books.<P>That being said, I am a little worried about his style and how it may or may not clash with the look and feel of Jackson's LOTR. Granted, THE HOBBIT is a much lighter affair but it should still exist in the same world.
Dec. 3, 2008, 3:01 p.m. CST
by Samus Aran
Well that is a little comforting to hear about Del Toro clarifying his view on The Hobbit, however, I am not sure if I buy it. I'll look into exactly how he worded it. But it sounds like backpedling to me, because indeed he must realize how damming his words were if he wants support, and he just may have tried to talk his way out of his own foot in the mouth. <P> As I have recently understood it, that "Bridge" movie is not going to be the story which had been rumored. Instead the second movie may be more like how I personally was hoping it to be; the second part of a two part Hobbit movie, covering only "The Hobbit". This recent news was good news for me, because I cannot stand the whole idea of this "bridge" movie. It is almost as idiotic as if Mel Gibson decided to write and direct "The Passion II: The Continuing Heroic Adventures of Jesus". These books have been written. Go ahead and make movies about them, but don't start rewriting them and adding shit from your own damn heads. <P> I understand that there may have been actual story written by tolkien that would be the basis for the "bridge" movie. That calms down my angered up blood some. <P> Anyways, Mr. Nice Gaius, I'm glad that you seem to have a similar concern as me. Maybe everything will turn out great. I studied up on Peter Jackson before I saw "Fellowship" by watching Heavenly Creatures, and I had NO faith in his ability to deliver a good Tolkien movie. Maybe the same thing will happen after all. I am hoping for the best most beautiful movie I have ever seen, and I am preparing for the biggest slap in the face I have received in a movie theater. <P> The Hobbit is simply my favorite story.
Dec. 3, 2008, 3:18 p.m. CST
Dude... Tolkien intended his books to be books, and that is exactly what they'll be forever and ever, amen. Get off your high horse about the movies and realize that they're only movies - they'll never change the printed word of the books. If it's not how you envisioned it, then fine - read the books again. Everyone knows that the "second" Hobbit movie is there to bridge the first movie to the LOTR movies utilizing Tolkien's other writings of the subject. Aragorn's appearance in that makes complete sense. The books are always going to be the books. Chill.
Dec. 3, 2008, 3:19 p.m. CST
According to an interview I read with PJ and Del Toro. DT has had an idea of how to do Smaug for years, even before PJ did LOTR. So it has been at least that long since he wanted to do the film. If he hated Tolkien so much, why would he want to do it back then? He was crushed when LOTR came out, thinking he would never get the chance to make his movie. He loves the book. Another thing to keep in mind is that PJ will be taking part in the production of the film, which should include character design, I think. So even tough PJ's films were Hollywooded up a fair bit, he still managed to bring Middle Earth alive visually. I don't think the Hobbit will be totally butchered. And I am going to hold on to the hope that it will be better than the LOTR films.
Dec. 3, 2008, 3:31 p.m. CST
Jackson took LOTR and perfected it. Viggo's Aragorn was great. The man has big balls!!!
Dec. 3, 2008, 3:34 p.m. CST
Guillermo of the tuna.
Dec. 3, 2008, 3:36 p.m. CST
It's because of him that Viggo took the role of Aragorn. And thanks to his wife for birthing him too.
Dec. 3, 2008, 3:40 p.m. CST
And Burt Reynolds as King Theoden, with Ray Liotta as Wormtongue!!! That would make a great movie!
Dec. 3, 2008, 3:48 p.m. CST
Dec. 3, 2008, 3:48 p.m. CST
by King Sweyn Forkbeard
Seriously, stop treating the books like they're some sacred text. They're (mostly) good, but far from great. <P> The Hobbit is twee and almost Blytonish in style, and would be greatly enhanced by a darker take. LOTR is better, but would have benefited from a more rigorous editing process. Jackson trimmed the fat from the storylines quite nicely. <P> If Del Toro and Jackson can enhance and improve Tolkein's original story in the way the film Trilogy did, then so much the better.
Dec. 3, 2008, 4:01 p.m. CST
by Darth Macchio
Well...I have to agree to an extent that Guillermo might not be the best choice for The Hobbit. I think its because he is so firmly entrenched in the world of fantasy (either horror fantasy or whatever) that he cannot possibly come to this project without his own vision. Now, don't get me wrong, the man is an incredible visionary..for his original works but as someone jokingly referenced, I don't want to see a 17 eyed Smaug that looks more like that weird 2 headed bullfrog dragon from Willow. And I think everybody knows (even Viggo) that he's not going to be in The Hobbit. I was really hoping Del Toro would pass on Hobit and do The Deathly Hollows as I'd love to see his take on Rowling's universe (where his somewhat 'whimsical' take on fantasy might be more welcome than Tolkien's world).<p>As for Jackson and LotR...hate that he turned the Dwarf into comic relief, hate that Legolas was some shield-surfing super-ninja, hate that we had to have the story inversion of Aerwyn coming to rescue Bilbo from the Naz'Ghul (sp?), hate many things that were purely invented from Jackson's mind to fill in time in a story not his own. But somehow, I've separated the story in the book from the story in the movie and they both work on different levels for me.<p>To me, Jackson can best be judged by what he truly loves...King Kong, which outside of effects, pretty much sucked. So I think LotR was more of a combination of hundreds of people all dedicated to making something more than profit. To get so many people working on a project in the context of "love" and not "job" or "obligation" makes for great cinema given even slightly better than average talent.<p>I'm not saying these guys suck...not at all...but they have a tendency to get in a little too deep into their own creativity perhaps and loose sight of the larger story...one they did not create. I don't know...hard to articulate where I'm going with this. At first I was mad it wasn't gonna be Jackson and then I saw Kong and was actually relieved it wasn't going to be him. Now with DelToro and after seeing Hellboy 2 (which is excellent but not the remote direction to go with Hobbit) I'm worried we'll get a thrashed version. Now, this second movie they're all talking about? If not taken from Tolkien's original work (which seems unlikely given all the legal stuff with the Tolkien estate and his grandson, etc) means we're going to get a pure DelToro or Jackson version of the events and let's face it...they are not up to the task...but then who is? Nolan? Doubted...Ridley? Hardly..Miller? Meh...Aronofsky? Raimi?! Favreau?
Dec. 3, 2008, 4:55 p.m. CST
as someone who's adored the LOTR series since i was old enough to read, i was dubious when viggo was tapped for aragorn, but i was happily proved wrong on that count. it's easy to pick on the stuff that jackson got wrong in the movies, but let's not forget the stuff he did oh-so RIGHT: the initial view of hobbiton *still* gives me chills and tears of joy. gandalf rocks. the epic battles and the scale of them was perfect. the feel that middle earth was really OLD... moria... the balrog.... it goes on an on. i think with jackson and del toro working together, we could be quite happy yet again. and if they delve into the appendices to show aragorn hunting gollum, i'm all for it. viggo IS aragorn, word
Dec. 3, 2008, 5:04 p.m. CST
Sure, there are some obvious problems, such as the extremely lazy overuse of the reluctant hero character arc (to the point that Aragorn was completely different), overuse of slow-motion, and the horrendous editing that cropped up in the Return of the King. <P>That said, there is so much that is great in LOTR that I couldn't even begin to list them: the casting choices, the costuming, most of the effects, the scenery, the music, and the sheer detail is just astounding in this thing.
Dec. 3, 2008, 5:05 p.m. CST
Dec. 3, 2008, 5:38 p.m. CST
One of my favourite book trilogies is The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies (Fifth Business, The Manticore, World of Wonders). They are lyrical tales that begin in a small Canadian town and follow the extraordinary lives of some folks that grew up there. I can say, without equivocation, that the addition of Boba Fett into any filmed versions of these books would be fuckin awesome.
Dec. 3, 2008, 7:37 p.m. CST
...Starring Viggo Mortenson as the only human who can reason and interact with those disgusting fanged foreskins that sucked Andy Serkis' head off in KING KONG.<p> It's kind of a "fish-out-of-water" story set in New York's Greenwich Village, with a whole lotta laughs.
Dec. 3, 2008, 7:45 p.m. CST
Viggo: "They look better in real life." <P> *Unzips pants*
Dec. 3, 2008, 8:13 p.m. CST
by slappy jones
they would have been terrible.
Dec. 3, 2008, 9:06 p.m. CST
Just, you know...have the characters be the same. Thats all..
Dec. 3, 2008, 9:40 p.m. CST
by Jumping Windows
Viggo Mortensen, you are hereby christened Roland of Gilead. Please call Lindelof and tell him that the Dark Tower movie will be a surefire hit thanks to your (type)casting.
Dec. 3, 2008, 9:54 p.m. CST
I guess I'll probably have to catch it on DVD eventually. But that was a great interview, Capone. Good job just letting him talk like that. Another person might have kept jumping in and ruined some of those awesome winding answers.
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:04 p.m. CST
which was on CBS tonight. They had been advertising it was going to be restored and in HD. But it wasn't in HD in the St. Louis area. Anyone see it in HD?
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:16 p.m. CST
Not that I totally disagree with this sentiment but I wonder how he would respond to the fact that in these eight years we haven't taken a drop of oil. Viggo, I may not completely agree with you but that fight in Eastern Promises was one of the most ballsy things I've seen an actor do.
Dec. 4, 2008, 1:05 a.m. CST
That book was amazing....I can't wait to see it envisioned upon a screen. Heart-wrenching stuff.
Dec. 4, 2008, 1:46 a.m. CST
Tone Loc should do his voice.No seriously think about it, Loc sounds like he's been smokin a pack of cigarettes a day since the 3rd grade, isn't that a perfect for a fire breathing dragon.<p> My main problem with 3rd installment of LOTR was all the crying drove me up all wall. Del Toro if you read this "NO More crying hobbits pleaase" There's no crying in the shiar.<p> <Gandalf> are you calling me a clown? Do I look like a clown to you? Do I amuse you? <Wormtongue frantically waving his hands in front of him> No ...No ...its just the story you told...you know it was funny.
Dec. 4, 2008, 1:47 a.m. CST
It's true that they are fundamentally different characters. What's not often appreciated, though, is that the reluctant-hero story arc given to the movie version is a direct consequence of the necessary simplifying of the back story. <br><br> The book's Aragorn is regarded (by himself and others) as the heir of Elendil, a historical figure of immense stature. That he is also therefore the heir of Elendil's son Isildur is pretty much ignored. That Isildur ever possessed the Ring is a secret known only to a handful of the Wise (because Sauron was defeated in a challenge combat rather than in battle), and his failure to destroy it is not a big part of Middle-earth history and does not dwell heavily on Aragorn's mind.<br><br> The movie needs to simplify the logic of Aragorn's claim to the throne and thus removes all references to Arnor in the North, and the separate Southern line of Anarion. Isildur is widely known to have taken the Ring and is scorned for his weakness in not destroying it. <br><br>All of these changes work seamlessly together. Sauron is defeated in a big battle because that's going to be much more exciting to watch, and that also makes the history of the Ring much better-known to the denizens of Middle-Earth and thus the Ring is an even more potent talisman. And Isildur is turned into such a famous fuck-up that his ignominy dwarfs the glory of his father, and that in turn completely alters Aragorn's sense of himself and his destiny. And that yields a character with a story arc that plays better on the screen than the supremely confident one of the book would have.<br><br> So the revision of the character was not just the lazy adoption of a cliched story structure to placate audiences. It was deeply considered and ultimately very effective.
Dec. 4, 2008, 1:49 a.m. CST
Dec. 4, 2008, 2 a.m. CST
Give'em time. The Major oil companies only started negotiating contracts with the Iraqi Oil Ministry earlier this year. I would enjoy a "Godfather II"-type sequel to "Eastern Promises", about maintaining power.
Dec. 4, 2008, 2:24 a.m. CST
the book-Aragorn to movie-Aragorn is one of the better book-to-movie changes, and Viggo does it fantastically. BTW, another book-to-movie change that worked really well in my mind, in part thank to an excellent performance, is Boromir. Book-Boromir's "sin" is his pride that ultimately leads to his doom. Movie-Boromir's sin is his despair. It works so much better. (Gimli, Denethor, and a whole bunch of other characters fared less well.) _______ Anyway, very cool interview, and it does make me want to see both "Good" and "Appalooza".
Dec. 4, 2008, 2:33 a.m. CST
This is a smart erudite man. And he couldn't be more right about the bullshit of this country leading to Bush's illegal invasion.
Dec. 4, 2008, 3:02 a.m. CST
The only way to make it a good film is to change the story. The Road, like No Country for Old Men, was incredibly flawed in terms of structure--a common issue in his novels barely masked by his minimalist writing. He is absolutely not the greatest writer ever. The Road? Lord, how many times does he need to hit the same note over and over again? There is a certain monotonous quality to his writing--some nice metaphors here and there, but didactic sentences, poor flow and, often, a lack of economy in terms of plot. Everyone speaks in the same clipped voice. There is a lack of internalization and response which deadens his narrative. Basically, he's a ham, a miserablist writer. For the semi-emo crowd, I can understand the woe-is-me appeal, but after a while it deadens the soul. The Road: "The world was grey; dust and ash everywhere. He looked at the boy. I'm scared, the boy said. I know. The night was black. Oh, God. God. I hate you, God. There was dust and ash everywhere. I dreamed about a penguin, the boy said. I know. I'm scared. Me too. The road was black. THE END."
Dec. 4, 2008, 3:59 a.m. CST
He's a better bad guy than a good guy (Eastern Promises notwithstanding). I felt he was bland in LOTR. I've liked him everywhere else. Though he's a whiny liberal bitch to be sure.
Dec. 4, 2008, 5:12 a.m. CST
given the elves are described as walking across ropes as if they were strolling down the street, among other instances of preternatural grace.<p>Now, the ludicrous number of tumbling skulls, that was silly.
Dec. 4, 2008, 5:14 a.m. CST
He was a lot better than stuart townsend would of been. So happy PJ changed his mind at the last minute. Interesting to hear viggos comments, sounds like if aragorn was in the bridge film it might be more a love story for him...
Dec. 4, 2008, 6:44 a.m. CST
A LOT of missed opportunities in LOTR (no rangers, no battle of Lorien, pointless Aragorn filler), but del Toro's work is a superficial display of cool props and nerd sex.
Dec. 4, 2008, 7:36 a.m. CST
by Abominable Snowcone
He came to Cleveland on November 3 with Dennis Kucinich for the sole purpose of making a two-minute speech encouraging people at a concert to vote the next day. I'll say it again: He came to Cleveland to do that.
Dec. 4, 2008, 7:44 a.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
We know Viggo played The Devil in The Prophecy. You don't have to baby us. You can either treat us like geeks, or have you mouth filled with your mother's feces.
Dec. 4, 2008, 7:52 a.m. CST
by just pillow talk
It's a possibility Abom....
Dec. 4, 2008, 9:09 a.m. CST
by Mr. Nice Gaius
Just out of curiosity, have you read any McCarthy beyond THE ROAD and NCFOM? Because those two books are, without a doubt, his most "reader friendly". There is a reason why McCarthy is held in such high regard and you sound like someone who hasn't scratched the surface of his heavier body of work.<P>Quote: "...after a while it deadens the soul."<P>That particular description is most appropriate when you consider the nature of the world THE ROAD takes place in and the fact that the world, for all intents and purposes, is in fact dead.
Dec. 4, 2008, 11:29 a.m. CST
...please provide the quote where Jackson says he "hates all things Tolkien." Good lord, you come off like, like...well, Ringbearer9!
Dec. 4, 2008, 11:35 a.m. CST
...while I mostly agree with your movie-Aragorn assessment, I don't see where the book-Aragorn is "supremely confident." Recall the scene where the Fellowship is preparing to leave Rivendell; Aragorn is extremely dejected and downcast and who wouldn't be in his place! He frequently has misgivings about how he thinks he's mucked up things after the fall of Gandalf. It isn't until after Helm's Deep, the arrival of the Rangers and the sons of Elrond (man, really missed that in the movie!)and taking the Path's of the Dead that he really gets his moxy up, if you take my meaning. Anyway, enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject.
Dec. 4, 2008, 11:48 a.m. CST
...in just about every metric that could be applied. Without starting a very long list to illustrate, let me just point out one that succeeded beyond this longtime Tolkien fans wildest dreams. Jackson took a pretty complex story and rendered it totally understandable to the vast majority of un-read movie fans. I'm literally talking about "Joe Six-pack (no, not the one from the elections!)" in this case. I've had folks ask me pretty detailed and pointed questions about the LotR back story just based on what they had seen in the movie. A stunning achievement for a feat most deemed an impossible task. Bakshi sure failed and I cringe at the thought of how Boorman's single movie (y'know, the one that ended up being Excalibur) portrayal would've turned out. C'mon people, get over yourselves and give the man the credit he so richly deserves. Here's an honest (and true) PJ quote: "I may not make the Lord of the Rings but I will make one helluva movie!" Amen to that Peter. It amazes me to this day how some quibble over the proportionally tiny amount of things he got wrong when compared to the whole. What, have we decided to do an anti-Cole Porter and accentuate the negative instead of the positive?
Dec. 4, 2008, 12:09 p.m. CST
They get paid millions to pretend to be someone else for a couple months and come out of their estates once in a while to spew political drivel upon the unknowing and ill informed masses. Please....shup up and strap on a sword and prance about the woods Viggo.
Dec. 4, 2008, 12:41 p.m. CST
by Darth Macchio
Yes indeed...nimbly walking across ropes...stepping lightly over snow that humans and hobbits and dwarves sink to their waists in (or, in the case of hobbits, their noses), greater perception and dexterity..that's all good and quite expected, in fact. But the moment he skis down those stairs on the shield made me involuntarily roll my eyes and lost me for a moment. And not just because it's not in the book...because it's fucking stupid.<p>We don't need Legolas's badassness shoved down our throats, we saw plenty of it before plus more to come and none of it was distracting to me. Jackson should have known better. I know Helm's Deep is a very brutal and epic battle in the film, but why must we have comedy or cheaply "cool" moments? Are people that traumatized by fictional war between humans, elves, a dwarf against orcs et al, that we simply cannot go more than 10 minutes without a joke about Dwarf tossing? Some form of cinematic catharsis? Or a tongue & cheek shield surfing moment? And tho it's been a while since I read LotR, I don't recall Tolkien going on about how much of a badass Jackson made Legolas out to be. But yet the taking down the olyphant scene was totally kick ass and to me, worked for his character. It's probably the only scene in TT that doesn't work for me (and why the Fellowship is my favorite of the cinematic trilogy).<p>Yeah, this is reading way too much into it and that's not what I enjoy doing...but I still think of that scene as emblematic of Jackson's tiny oversteps with this material. Outside of those few tiny missteps, the LotR film trilogy really is excellent and I'm delighted to be able to enjoy what is very likely the best translation of this classic material in our lifetimes.
Dec. 4, 2008, 1:05 p.m. CST
First off...Capone, this is simply one of the best interviews ever posted on AICN. You allowed Viggo to express his thoughts (whether we agree with them or not) and even engaged in casual banter that highlighted the things going on in his head (rather than coming in with an agenda). Now - to the people (like Samus Anus) whining about the books being 'destroyed by Jackson', give it a REST! The books themselves are not perfect...in fact, The Two Towers tends to meander and lose a bit of steam. However, they are very good books..and Jackson did a very good job adapting them for the big screen. Yes, they're different...but the times are different and it is never possible to cast 'perfectly'; the writer's imagination stands separate from any casting effort...so you make due with what you've got. Peter Jackson felt so strongly about Aragorn being well presented, that he fired Stewart Townsend's worthless ass after a week of filming and replaced him. Period. Peter needed someone talented to carry more of the story burden; and Viggo did an admirable job at performing the role with the dignity it required.
Dec. 4, 2008, 2:25 p.m. CST
by Samus Aran
Ok now you calm down. For one thing I never said that Jackson destoyed the books. In fact I think he did a terrific job, absolutely. They are among my top favorite movies ever. <P> Furthermore, I never meant to imply that I didnt think Viggo Mortensen didn't do a great job as Aragorn. I thought he was the best actor I can imagine to play that part- I have no problems there. <P> My problem with this whole Viggo Mortensen thing being in The Hobbit movies is that I dont want Aragorn to be in the Hobbit. If in fact there is a bridge movie (which sometimes I have heard it won't be a bridge movie), but if it is, then I can somewhat understand Aragorn being present in such a story. I just hope it isn't some made up story written by some damned hollywood screenwriter who has a passing interest in Lord of the Rings. <P> Calm down, I like Viggo just fine. He looks the part and he acts well. Just let Aragorn (the character) stay in the stories that he belongs in. <P> For those who have defended Del Toro, citing his long love for Lord of the Rings after all, I take great comfort in that if it is true. If he truly loves Lord of the Rings, and has truly always wanted to make the Hobbit, then more excited for this movie I could not be. I respect anyone who genuinely loves these books.
Dec. 4, 2008, 2:26 p.m. CST
by Samus Aran
And please don't call me Samus Anus, have some respect for a terrific video game character.:P
Dec. 4, 2008, 2:32 p.m. CST
by Samus Aran
Here is the interview in which Del Toro expressed his disdain for Tolkien concepts... http://www.salon.com/ent/audiofile/2006/10/12/conversations_toro/ <P> Tell me if you think this doesnt sound like he dislikes "The Hobbit". I have no idea how someone who loves the Hobbit could say this.
Dec. 4, 2008, 2:35 p.m. CST
by Samus Aran
Oh, to view that url I just gave, remove each %20 out of the address when it says "file not found"
Dec. 4, 2008, 2:38 p.m. CST
...that does it! I'm re-taking "Reading Comprehension 101." Appy polly loggies Samus, how I got "Jackson" out of "delToro" is beyond me. Yes, I do know what DT said but thanks for the (depressing) link anyway. I'll go there and re-share your concern. Curse skimming during lunchies anyway!
Dec. 4, 2008, 2:39 p.m. CST
by Samus Aran
Here is pretty convincing proof that The Hobbit movies will only be the book (as I had hoped). This is the first paragraph from todays wikipedia article on The Hobbit Films. <P> The Hobbit, based on the novel of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien, are two films in development for release in December 2011 and December 2012. The films will be directed by Guillermo del Toro, with The Lord of the Rings film trilogy director Peter Jackson serving as executive producer and co-writer. Originally, the first film would have adapted The Hobbit and the second would have carried over into The Lord of the Rings; but the writers decided it was better to cover the novel over both films. <P> If people here don't know this, then perhaps aintitcool isnt doing a good enough job keeping you guys updated.
Dec. 4, 2008, 2:49 p.m. CST
by Samus Aran
easy mistake for you to mix up Del Toro and Jackson concerning this. I noticed a few gramatic errors I have made myself here. <P> Well I am sorry to depress you, but who knows what will happen. Someone earlier cited an enthusiasm that Del Toro has had for several years for making Smaug. That could be a good sign, it might be a bad sign, I really don't know. But if Del Toro really loves the Hobbit and wants to make the movies as the story really is, then how could such a person say "I was never into heroic fantasy. At all. I don't like little guys and dragons, hairy feet, hobbits -- I've never been into that at all. I don't like sword and sorcery, I hate all that stuff." I don't see how we are going to get a true Hobbit movie from a director who feels this way. <P> I think Pan's Labyrinth reflects this sentiment of his very clearly. He seems to actually like Fantasy, just not traditional Tolkienesque fantasy. Well that's fine, except he is now directing the quintessential Tolkienesque fantasy- The GOD DAmN Hobbit! <P> Leave it alone if you dont like it- there are other very good directors out there who do love and understand the appeal of this specific genre.
Dec. 4, 2008, 5:27 p.m. CST
heck, he's was even good in that shitpile Phsycho remake. Can't friggin wait for The Hobbit !!!
Dec. 4, 2008, 6:28 p.m. CST
by Orbots Commander
in this interview he does come off a bit like a pretentious, insufferable dude. He did seem engaged in the interview, asking Capone questions and all, but he came off like a type of guy you wouldn't want to spend much time around.
Dec. 4, 2008, 6:34 p.m. CST
in LOTR. Seriously, this guy cannot act. He's as wooden as they come and it was glaring, especially when put up against real actors like Ian McKellen. Del Toro will absolutely ruin The Hobbit with or without Mortensen in any event just like he took a really good first Hellboy film and seguayed into the empty eyecandy that was HB 2.
Dec. 4, 2008, 9:03 p.m. CST
sometimes I think the movies would have been better had Viggo and Sean Bean had switched roles.
Dec. 4, 2008, 10:47 p.m. CST
by Samus Aran
Since Boromir is one of my favorite characters in the story, Sean Beans AWESOME performance was nothing but perfect for me. I say that Boromir is the better character between the the two, and as such, his character deserved the better actor. Pitch perfect. <P> And I don't really care so much that Two Towers and Return of the King suffered in the absense of Sean Bean because Fellowship is the best of the movies, and it is the best of the books, so let it have the best of the actors. We did in fact get to enjoy Sean Bean for an entire four hour movie, thank god for that.
Dec. 4, 2008, 11:14 p.m. CST
Great points. The movie's Boromir is a big improvement to the book. Denethor is much less interesting. (Unlike some, I don't have a problem with 90% of the Gimli as comic relief.)<br><br> "Supremely confident" Aragorn is what I said but not at all right! Rather, there is never a question that his destiny is to attempt to be Sauron's great enemy among men, and regain the throne. He knows from a very young age that this is the role that has been chosen for him. He does have great doubts about his ability to succeed, of course, as you point out.<br><br> The book's my favorite book, the movie's my favorite movie. Neither is perfect. The movie fixes some flaws in the book that even Tolkien would have acknowledged. Arwen in the movie is truer to Tolkien than in the book -- she was an afterthought to the book's composition, but her more active role in the movie has stronger echoes of Luthien with Beren, and it ought to. And there's no way that Gandalf doesn't know there's a Balrog in Moria -- Tolkien invented the Balrog backstory afterwards but never rewrote the chapter to reflect it (interestingly, that's the only place where he got the moon phases wrong, too).<br><br> There are lots of little things that bug me slightly about the movies, and I find that many others share them -- too many slo-mo shots of Frodo in pain, the Wizard smackdown, Galadriel's transformation. I think omitting Gollum's near-repentance from ROTK was a mistake (although inevitable because of the way they mucked with his psychological development). But there's almost inexhaustible, gloriously great riches. And not just inherently cinematic stuff like the lighting of the beacons. There are invented scenes, like Boromir's elegy to Gondor in Lorien, or Aragorn's fencing with Eowyn, or Eowyn and Theoden's final conversation, that feel 100% true to Tolkien, and that are as great as anything in the book. The two versions of this great story cohabit in my mind very nicely. I genuinely feel sorry for fans of the book who can’t love the movies.
Dec. 5, 2008, 2:57 a.m. CST
by most excellent ninja
no doubt. Him, Day Lewis, Bale, Considine. Brutallity in Acting.
Dec. 5, 2008, 3:03 a.m. CST
by most excellent ninja
which is the only bad thing about Viggo, he should be a xenieze. BOCA!
Dec. 5, 2008, 3:20 p.m. CST
... that was a great interview... <P> Well, I liked it.
Dec. 6, 2008, 12:17 a.m. CST
His role in Richard the third was absolutely amazing, and he was pretty damn perfect as Gandalf too.
Dec. 6, 2008, 7:31 a.m. CST
...and aren't we lucky stiffs to have McKellen reprise his role for the upcoming (can't believe filming won't start until 2010!) Hobbit movie?
Dec. 6, 2008, 8:30 p.m. CST
Dec. 21, 2008, 12:33 p.m. CST
by Darth Thoth
Truly a great actor and man. Keep it up V! You too Capone. Good stuff.