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  1/04/02 From the Australian edition of Empire (January 2002):


Perhaps because he was cast as The Lord Of The Rings's enigmatic Aragorn so late in the day (he replaced British actor Stuart Townsend after ground had already been struck), Viggo Mortensen threw himself into the role with unprecedented gusto.
"He took his outfit home with him because he wanted to literally grow into it," says costume designer Ngila Dickson. "He sweated in it, lived in it, even repaired it himself, as Aragorn would have."
There were also reports of him wearing his broadsword off duty and of virtually living in the woods, communing with nature to really get under the characters skin. Most of which, according to the Danish-American actor, were exaggerated. "I went fishing a few times." he says, "but I didn't live in the woods. I  couldn't have done that, I would've missed my call to the set in the morning."
Even so, his level of dedication became the stuff of legend. While filming a battle scene one day, he caught a stray elbow in the face, which knocked one of his front teeth out. So caught up in the moment was he that he called for a tube of Superglue so he could stick it back in and fight on, becoming quite irate when director Peter Jackson insisted on calling a halt to the action and sending his star to a dentist.
Mortensen's gung-ho attitude would certainly have pleased his son, Henry, who persuaded his old man to take the role in the first place.
"When they first asked me," says Mortensen, "the question was," Do you want to leave for New Zealand tomorrow?" I knew they had already been there for some months, which wasn't good. I knew I wouldn't have time to prepare and I hadn't read the book. There were plenty of reasons not to go. I didn't feel I could do a good job and I didn't want to be away from my son for that length of time. But my son was familiar with the books, he talked about them with his school friends and he knew about the character of Aragorn. He said,  "Oh, that's pretty cool. You should do that."
He did, and promptly found himself embroiled in the toughest shoot of his career. "Straight away I worked with Bob Anderson on the swordplay," he says. "He's an incredibly talented man; he taught Errol Flynn. He cracked the whip for a couple of days, which really got me into the physical stuff. I did pretty much all my own stunts in the battle scenes, and the amazing stunt team played the enemy at all times. The battle scenes are very elaborate, people going berserk night and day. Even in the background, thousands of people going completely nuts. But even if I had 20 people coming at me, I could recognize them through their masks and armor; I got to know their body language so well. I t was grueling. There was a period when we worked all 
night for three months straight. You never do that many nights in one go. Every night charging up rocky hillsides, just smashing at people coming at you wearing Orc or Urak-Hai masks."
The stunning battle sequences, filmed with the assistance of the New Zealand army and hordes of local extras, are a standout feature of Lord Of The Rings. And it wasn't just Mortensen who got a little carried away with them. "The stunt team trained thousands of people to use weapons," he says. "So even extras way in the background weren't just standing there. And everyone was so passionate about it. There were copies of the book lying everywhere. The drivers, the caterers all had copies of the book. The extras would come in early to learn extra stuff, and they'd just go at it. They were so proud; they had T-shirts made up. You'd see hundreds of people walking round 
Wellington on Saturday night with T-shirts saying Urak-Hai Battalion or Elf Brigade. And they would taunt each other before scenes.
They'd do the Maori hakka, the war chant they do before rugby games. One night the stunt team didn't think the extras were doing it right, so they did this really in-your-face hakka thing and scared the shit out of them. Just to make them... I don't know, it was a Kiwi thing. It was the best team I've ever been on, the stunt team and everyone else."
However, there is something to The Lord Of The Rings that speaks to the poet in Mortensen's soul louder than the grand spectacle and the almighty punch-ups. It has, he feels, a powerful lesson to teach us, and one that is particularly prescient at this time.
"There is a tendency in America," he says," to say, "This is good and this is evil and I shall do something about it." It isn't that simple Tolkien has Gandalf say, I think in the first book, something to the effect that nothing was evil in the beginning; Sauron was not always so. Aragorn says to Legolas at one point, "Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, and nor are they one thing among dwarves and elves." Something I found interesting is that even though Tolkien was a devout Christian, the books don't assert that  there is a heavenly reward for doing the right thing. Doing the right thing is it's own reward."

5/27/01 Much thanks to Laura! From the May issue of Art Business News magazine (excerpts):

In the Spotlight but Shining on it's own - Celebrity Art
by Lisa Crawford Watson. ABN contributing editor.

.... "Certainly celebrities who create fine art already have established a name, a reputation, and an audience. However, while notoriety may turn heads, it appears to be the quality of the art- the technique, medium, use of color, composition, emotion, perspective - that is capturing the attention of fine art collectors.

..."Robert Mann, of his eponymous gallery in New York, did not become involved in Viggo Mortensen's work because Mortensen is a celebrity. In fact, Mann wasn't aware of his status as an actor. What he noticed first was Mortensen's art. For Mann, Mortensen, who starred in 'A Perfect Murder', is not a celebrity artist, but an artist who also acts.

" 'I didn't know about his acting', said Mann, 'but I do know he's incredibly gifted as a visual artist. He is a very multifaceted and slightly compulsive individual, constantly creating in every medium. His creative energy is boundless; I assume acting is another extension of that.' "

"To create a category called 'celebrity art', Mann believes, is unfair. 'I'm sure there are people out there who could be influenced by fame,' he said, 'but that's not the audience I'm trying to connect with. The connotation of celebrity art is not good. It implies dilettante. I wouldn't put Viggo in that context. He doesn't have to paint; that's not the point. I think Viggo needs to make art - really needs to. That's the way he expresses himself' "

" ...independent art dealer Claudia Wishnow concludes 'A celebrity's renown lends so much cache to the art, but if the work doesn't stand on it's own, it doesn't matter who painted it.' "

On page 72 of the article is a photograph of a multi-medium painting of Viggo's entitled "Apart" (2000)

1/29/01 A collection of interviews from Jam! Showbiz

Thanks to Faye K. for sending in this older interview.

Actor Viggo Mortensen: The virtuoso bad boy takes a gentlemanly turn in The Portrait of a Lady

It somehow seems ironic that Viggo Mortensen, virtuoso bad boy, wants to meet at the Snow White Coffee Shop, and now sits beneath a looming portrait of Prince Charming. You may remember him from his turn as the wired, paraplegic ex-con in Carlito's Way - he tries to rat on Al Pacino. In Sean Penn's The Indian Runner, he abandons Patricia Arquette in the throes of labour only to bash in Dennis Hopper's head in a bar, and in Daylight, his wannabe hero disastrously attempts to one-up Sylvester Stalone's rescue effort. In The Prophecy, Mortensen rips out Christopher Walken's heart and snacks on it as, yes, Lucifer. This is what you know. So when he pulls back your chair, apologises for the rain and hands you a book of his poetry called Ten Last Night, it comes as a something of a shock. That he has the courtesy to do this. That he writes poetry. That it is good. That he is, really, a gentleman. Jane Campion, who directed The Portrait of a Lady, says Mortensen was shy at first. «Nicole [Kidman] and I had to beat him up. We called him Kiddie just to try and get him to treat us like pals. Of course, eventually we warmed him up so much we couldn't control him.»

In Portrait, Mortensen plays Caspar Goodwood, one of the intrepid,, long -suffering suitors trying to win the hand of Kidman's Isabel Archer. «Caspar is insistent. He basically says, 'I love you and I am willing to wait as long as it takes,'» Mortensen says. «I admire that.» But how would such zealously romantic notions play to a roomful of the tattoed tough guys Mortensen has played in the past ? Wouldn't they think a guy who follows a woman around Europe declaring his undying love somewhat pathetic ? Mortensen shrugs. «How can a man be pathetic who really loves someone ? »

Mortensen will next be seen pounding Demi Moore into shape as a command master chief training the first female Navy SEAL candidate in Ridley Scott's tentatively titled In Pursuit of Honor (previously G.I. Jane). Though Mortensen spent months researching the role, he did not work out with Demi Moore - who, he says, 'is tough as nails' - before the cameras started to roll. «It's kind of a lonely job,» Mortensen says of the chief. «The guy's the leader, there's a distance and an isolation he has to have. I had to start off at a certain level to feel like I could lord it over them.» Surprisingly, Mortensen sees some parallels between the 19th century romantic he plays in Portrait and the hardcase master chief in Honor. «I think they're both gentlelmen. By the end you get that - the chief has a really old-fashioned code of ethics.»

In Portrait, while John Malcovich and other characters joust with words and shatter each other with glances, Mortensen gets to wield the ultimate weapon : the raw, raging physicality of a simple kiss. Does he like kissing ? «I guess the simple answer is yes.» . As Mortensen explains it, «kissing and the lack of kissing» are crucial in illustrating the theme of the movie. Why ? He smiles like the devil he once was. His reply is cryptic. «Sometimes it's just nice to wait.».

by Jodie Burke
PREMIERE magazine british edition, March 1997


Sybil was kind enough to send me the interview from JANE magazine. Here it is:

Leggo My Viggo
Suzan Colon pours butter and syrup on actor Viggo Mortensen.

Forty-year old actor, poet, painter and photographer Viggo Mortensen can be kind of overwhelming. After all, it's not every day you get to meet a real-life Renaissance man. Viggo you may remember, played the sadistic Navy SEAL who got his butt whipped by Demi Moore in G.I. Jane. He was last seen in A Perfect Murder, with Gwyneth Paltrow (yep, those were Viggo's paintings in the movie.) Right now he's trying to find out who wears the pants in the Bates family, in Psycho; and in April, he'll play a blouse-selling hippie in A Walk on the Moon.
Whatever he is, whatever he's filming, Viggo's contract states that he has to be home in Venice, Calif., for Halloween so he can go trick-or-treating with his 11-year-old son Henry(the product of Viggo's brief marriage to my punk idol, Exene Cervenka of X). Of all the things there are to admire about Viggo, this is definitely the game point.

I read somewhere that you had the best walk.
What's that about? Really? (Laughs) I don't know. How do you they know?
I guess people are standing behind you.
Yeah ... watching me walk. What's a good walk? I stay in a straight line, I think. That's a good thing to aim for.
You've done 30 movies, and people still think you're a new face. Is that good or bad?
That's kind of a double-edged sword. In terms of people not being tired of you, it's a good thing. In terms of people saying you have yet to prove yourself, or being forced to do two movies in a year away from home, that can be a lot if you have a life outside of that-whether it's family or other interests.
And you sure have a lot of them. You were born in Manhattan, yes?
Yeah, but we moved all over the place-Venezuela, Argentina, Denmark. I still have a taste for it,traveling. And I am good at making myself at home quickly wherever I am. I don't know if I'm as good as like, going into a social gathering and starting to talk, but I could spend days by myself.
When did you start painting, poetry and photography?
Somewhere along the way. According to my mother, I never was anywhere without a pencil, drawing. She recently gave me a notebook filled with my old drawings, and there's one from when I was 7 that was wild. All the others were pretty regular, like swords, guns, planes crashing, pee-pees ... And then there was this school assignment. At the top of the page, it said, "Little Red Riding Hood." It was a real painting-the colors were blended, and it was kind of abstract, but I really liked it. Anyway written over the drawing in red pen was VERY POOR! Underlined. Teachers used to do that thinking it was constructive.
Ouch. But you showed her, because you just had your first gallery showing. Is it hard putting a price on your art?
There's a woman at the gallery who helped me with it. When it's just you, you may be having a bad day and look at something you made, and go, "God!" But someone else will see something different. A couple of days ago, l looked ay all the paintings, and I was like, "I don't know what these are." Then it snowballed. "What kind of actor am I anyway? What kind of father? I mean, what a joke. God, I'm such a vain, self-involved creature, and I should just stop making these things and inflicting them on people!" I can see why people jump out windows.
Wow. Is this a good time to ask how you feel about being called a Renaissance man?
I haven't been called that. I have been asked how I find the time to do all this stuff.
Let me guess: no TV-watching.
That's right. My son gets annoyed because there are cartoons that he feels are a matter of life and death. But he sees some of that stuff at his friends' houses, and we rent a lot of movies. I think later on he'll be happy about it. And he reads a lot- at least he's using his imagination rather than just sitting passively. But Henry's always been able to spend hours entertaining himself. He's great. You could be in the same room with him but he's totally in his own world .... I don't know what I'd do without him.


Evan was kind enough to send an article about Viggo that ran in the December 16th Chicago Sun-Times. Here it is:

Sensitive side of `Psycho' (December 16, 1998)
BY JAE-HA KIM Chicago Sun-Times

Viggo Mortensen is relating a tale that involves Vince Vaughn, a butcher knife and the threat of bodily harm. But, oddly enough, the actor isn't describing the shooting of his latest film, ``Psycho.'' He's remembering a country music concert. ``Vince and I went to see Buck Owens one night after we had finished that day's shoot [for ``Psycho''],'' Mortensen said during a call from his Los Angeles home. ``I had gotten one of the `Psycho' knives to give to Buck as a present 'cause it was his birthday. They wanted us to give it to him on stage that night. ``So we bumbled our way through our speech to Buck. He opened the box and saw the knife, and the fiddler started making the ``eek eek eek'' [noise from the shower scene]. Buck got all excited and started posing as a damsel in distress. Then he began chasing Dwight Yoakam all around the stage with the knife. I don't think he realized it was real.''

Though blond and chiseled, Mortensen isn't your typical Hollywood actor. His intense features and sly eyes convey an edge that eludes your Brads, Leonardos and Matts. The actor also exudes intelligence, whether he's playing a magnetically sadistic Navy SEALS officer in ``G.I. Jane'' or a genteel suitor in ``The Portrait of a Lady.''

Acting, though, is just part of the story. Besides the film roles for which he's won critical acclaim, Mortensen also is a published poet, musician, painter and photographer. And the well-traveled Manhattan-born artist is fluent in Danish and Spanish. During down time between filming love scenes with Gwyneth Paltrow in ``A Perfect Murder,'' Mortensen kept his leading lady entertained by serenading her with Spanish songs. (His original paintings also made it into the film.) So it's a little surprising when, during the middle of an interview, he singsongs, ``Clap on, clap off.'' ``Whatever happened to those things?'' said Mortensen, 40, laughing. ``That was a good commercial. All my references are outdated because I don't watch television anymore. But I remember that one.''

Mortensen can be forgiven for not watching much TV--the busy Renaissance man just doesn't have the time. There's his role in ``Psycho,'' in which he plays Anne Heche's semi-clueless boyfriend, Sam Loomis. His art show at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica, Calif., has been extended. And he has a new book, Recent Forgeries (Smart Art Press, $27), which features his paintings, photographs and poetry, as well as a CD of his poems and songs. On record, Mortensen's speaking voice--especially in Spanish--actually is more melodic and alluring than his singing. Confident and clear, he draws listeners in as he spins tales of deceit and humor.

That confidence is exhibited again on the new spoken-word record ``The New Yorker Out Loud Vol. 2.'' The two-album collection includes readings by musician Chuck D and actress Suzy Amis. But it's Mortensen's readings of selections from Jack Kerouac's ``On the Road Journals'' that are truly mesmerizing. That he scored and mixed the avant-garde jazz in the background is an added bonus.

Now Mortensen is collaborating with his ex-wife Exene Cervenka (of the punk rock band X) on ``One Man's Meat,'' a record that will accompany his next art exhibit. ``I don't know what it's going to be about yet,'' Mortensen said. ``Perhaps just about how in our society people just devour each other, whether for money, or fame, or notoriety, or to just grandstand.''

Mortensen's work schedule hasn't always been this busy. After what he believed was a prodigious start in his acting career, the fledgling actor learned that his first two roles in films by Jonathan Demme and Woody Allen were edited out. But it wasn't long before he was cast in a small role in the 1985 film ``Witness.'' That part, which was supposed to be a one-day job, expanded into a speaking role as Alexander Godunov's younger Amish brother. ``I was basically told to shadow him,'' Mortensen recalled, laughing. ``So wherever he went, I followed.'' These days, Mortensen is taking the lead.

Eleven Views of Viggo (sidebar to the above article)
by Jae-Ha Kim

Viggo Mortensen is an accomplished poet, painter and photographer. But it's his acting that has captured the public's eye. Here's a look at some of his roles: "Witness" (1985). Best scene: Eyeballing Kelly McGillis' flirtation with Harrison Ford. "The Indian Runner" (1991). Playing the bad brother, Mortensen carves out a niche for himself at the simmering villain. "Boiling Point" (1993). Portrays a deliciously dumb and trigger-happy ex-con. "Carlito's Way" (1993). Very convincing as a sleazy, wheelchair-bound snitch. "The Prophecy" (1995). He's Lucifer. The devil made him do it. "Albino Alligator" (1996). Nice twitchy performance as a guy in a suit who is not what he appears to be. "Daylight" (1996). He's a doomed, mountain-climbing businessman arrogant enough to think he can be the story's hero despite the presence of Sly Stallone. "G.I. Jane" (1997). Gives new meaning to the term "knock out" in his scenes with Demi Moore. "A Perfect Murder" (1998). Really got into the role of artist David Shaw by doing all his own paintings. To soothe Gwyneth Paltrow for their love scenes, Mortensen seramaded her with Spanish love songs between takes. "Psycho" (1998). Rivaling the shower scene: Mortensen bares his backside early on in the movie. "A Walk on the Moon" (1999). Will debut at Sundance next month. He plays a traveling salesman who woos Diane Lane.

8/30/98 Movieline magazine has a two page interview with Viggo in the August 1998 issue (Antonio Banderas on the cover). Here's the opening paragraph of the two page interview. A big thanks to Amy for sending the text.

In an era when young actors are hyped to the moon after making a film or two, only to be ungraciously spat out at the first misstep, it's after making his debut as Alexander Godunov's younger brother in "Witness" Mortensen worked in lots of movies, but the ones with titles you'd remember didn't feature him in any way that made him stand out. It wasn't until he starred opposite Nicole Kidman as a sexy suitor in "the Portrait of a Lady" that audeinces took notice of him, so of course they mistook him for a newcomer. Hollywood heavies perked up their ears. Demi Moore cast him as a magnetic, poetry-reading-but-over-the-edge Navy SEALs trainer in "G.I. Jane." Now on screens as the artist with a half-amorous/half-homicidal relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow in "A Perfect Murder," Mortensen is hotter than he's ever been, and he's already signed on for his next project, Gus Van Sant's high profile remake of "Psycho."

Note: There follows a page and a half interview by Dennis Hensley. Viggo will be playing Sam Loomis in "Psycho." Check out the Internet Movie Database for more details. Thanks also to the Ravenkeeper for the notice.

  6/15/98 Viggo is in the June 22nd issue of People (by Danielle Morton). Here's the text (thanks to Megan for the text and to Nita and Melakia for letting me know):

If you're not distracted by the bared flesh of Gwyneth Paltrow or the chiseled cheekbones of Viggo Mortensen, you might notice the art in A Perfect Murder. The energetic, large-scale canvases in the loft of Mortensen's character-Paltrow's sinister artist lover- really are the work of the 39-year-old actor, who also takes photographs and has published a book or his poetry. How does he find the time? "I don't have a TV," says Mortensen, the New York raised son of a Danish businessman and an American homemaker. The actor, who ordered moviegoers to attention last year as G.I. Jane's sadistic master chief, is just as versatile onscreen. Divorced from Exene Cervenka of the '80s punk band X (they have a 10-year-old son, Henry), Mortensen specializes in chilly villains (except in an upcoming remake of Psycho, where he will play the boyfriend of Anne Heche's doomed damsel). "When I started out I couldn't try out for anyone even remotely shady because I looked sort of boyish," he says, "But once I did [a villain] reasonably well...good luck getting the part of the nice small-town druggist."


Click here for a People Online interview with Viggo and a picture.

3/17/98 Viggo is in the April 1998 (p.351) Issue of Vanity Fair! (thanks to RavenKeeper!) Here is the article "The Scene-Stealer" (courtesy of an email from Jackie. Thanks!):

VIGGO MORTENSEN, actor (Twenty-eight films): Not a household name (yet), Viggo Mortensen has logged a lot of face time on the big screen in the 90's. Perhaps his image doesn't snap into place because his roles have been so richly varied. He played Henry James's genteel doormat Caspar Goodwood in The Portrait of a Lady and furnished unexpected shadings to the chiseled role of Demi Moore's commanding officer in G.I. Jane. Critics find in him a romantic waiting to be released. The genie bottle could be this year's Over the Moon, an independent film co-produced by Dustin Hoffman. A familiar figure on the L.A. punk scene (he was married to Exene Cervenka, the former lead singer of the punk band X), Mortensen is also a published poet, which probably shouldn't be held against him. (An interesting point: He's between Sir John Geilgud and the Fondas (Bridget and Peter). Quite a company.)

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