Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen Films

Lord of the Rings

About Brego.net

Quotes about Viggo Mortensen

Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas and Rohan charactersViggo seems to measure himself by his own standards, not by what others think about him. But it is still interesting to hear what his co-stars and directors, art critics, and others who have worked with him or studied his work have to say.

Quotes about Viggo's art and poetry

"Your work - it's very trashy, but potent."

Character Steven Taylor in A Perfect Murder, as played by Michael Douglas
August 1, 2003

"Great artists tell us the task is to train and polish the attention within the brilliance of our small shipwrecks. Viggo does that both insistently and obsessively; he trains his eye to find small wonders and flashes of surprise, and these things are polished by the way he frames them. It is this framing that clearly - both formally and unconsciously - corresponds to his sense of how things are."

Kevin Powers, art critic
As quoted in Variety Life, "Viggo Mortensen"
October 1, 2003

"The Lord of the Rings wasn't out, and I was clueless about that part of his life. I saw the work and responded to it on its own merit. There's a lot of volatility to it, a lot of emotion, a lot of subtext and sensitivity.

"[Mortensen] is not a dabbler. I consider him a very lucky and talented person. Most artists are lucky to express themselves in one avenue."

Robert Mann, art dealer
As quoted by Alex Kuczynski in Vanity Fair, "Finding Viggo"
January 1, 2004

Quotes from cast and crew: Hidalgo

"He's doing really well. He is very concerned with speaking the Lakota properly and is working very hard. He is patient and diligent, but what's really cool about him is he's really humble. He's the star of the show and he's really cool!"

David MidThunder, one of the on-set Lakota dialect coaches to Viggo Mortensen
As quoted by Natalie Noel in News from Indian Country,
"The Glitter Report: News From Tribe Hollywood!!"
September 15, 2002

"I have worked in this business 25 years. I like Nicole Kidman. I like Tom Cruise. Some of them, though, I'll never work with again.

"You know, every actor you work with, you ask them, 'So, how do you ride?' And they always say, 'I ride excellently.' Viggo says to me, 'I ride O.K.' He gets on the horse, and he rides better than me. That's what I mean when I say the guy has no ego problems. He does not exist on the Hollywood plane -- do you know what I mean?"

Rex Peterson, horse trainer for Hidalgo
As quoted by Alex Kuczynski in Vanity Fair, "Finding Viggo"
January 1, 2004

"He's really a technical actor. He knows the camera. He'll start to get blocked and he'll move over to clear the camera. And he's staying in character the whole time. He can feel the light; he knows how to put himself in the light. The DP just loved it. And the editor loves him because he matches. He knows how long his cigarette was and what the line was and what line he was saying when he put it out. A lot of actors, not only can't do this, but they don't care."

Joe Johnston, Director, Hidalgo
As quoted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid, "Interview with Viggo Mortensen"
February 11, 2004

"He wanted to eat a real locust. The locust he eats is made out of sugar. He said, 'You know, I can eat a live one.' I said, 'Let's eat all the fake ones first. If we run out, you can eat a live one.'"

Joe Johnston, Director, Hidalgo
As quoted by Teresa Wiltz, in the Washington Post, "A Man of Many Parts "
March 4, 2004

"I've always sensed that I'd be insulting him a little bit if I called him a movie star. If he chose to be a movie star, he could've done it a long time ago.... He's in control. That's the bottom line. He's not waiting for someone to say, 'Hey, you've made it.' He'll decide when he's made it."

Joe Johnston, Director, Hidalgo
As quoted by Teresa Wiltz, in the Washington Post, "A Man of Many Parts "
March 4, 2004

"I think it was perfect [casting]. It's one of those things that once it's done, no matter how hard you try, you can't re-cast it in your mind. He became the character. People say that all the time, but with Viggo it's really true. And all that stuff they say, you know, the 'No-ego Viggo. He's not a star, he's an actor.' That is so true. He's such a class act."

John Fusco, screenwriter
As quoted on ign.com in "Interview: Joe Johnston, John Fusco and Viggo Mortensen"
March 4, 2004

"When I heard that [Viggo] was interested in the role [of Hopkins] I anticipated [a] commitment to research and sure enough, days after he was cast he called me and said, 'Who do you know on Pine Ridge reservation and can I go there?' Within a week he was out with these Lakota horsemen and riding with them, and on a long ride to Wounded Knee."

John Fusco, screenwriter
As quoted on ign.com in "Interview: Joe Johnston, John Fusco and Viggo Mortensen"
March 4, 2004

Known as a very dedicated actor, Mortensen is known for getting lost in his roles, particularly as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings saga. Johnston comments on this: "He did it, I think, to the same degree. He went home in his wardrobe, you know, he camped in the desert with the horses and the wranglers, and I was amazed when I did see the Lord of the Rings films that not only did it seem like... I mean, it was obviously a different character, but it seemed like a different person playing the different characters. He made a complete transformation. Now I know I him as Viggo Mortensen playing Frank T. Hopkins. When he takes on his next role, whatever that is, he'll probably become unrecognizable to me. He'll make another transformation. But yeah, he really got into it. He's also completely devoted to the project. He was always there. We worked him a lot more than we should have. He never complained, and he was there dawn to dusk and beyond. He's largely responsible for making that whole aspect of this really work. He's really amazing."

Joe Johnston, director
As quoted on ign.com in "Interview: Joe Johnston, John Fusco and Viggo Mortensen"
March 4, 2004

"[Viggo Mortensen] did things on the horse that the stunt man had difficulty doing. He fell off the horse, he rode bareback, he jumped on the horse at a gallop, which is difficult to do, and he you know, he fell off a few times and he got knocked down and he got kicked a few times, but you know, he also got right back up and wanted to do it again. I think he knew that if there was anything that was really life-threatening, he would come forward and say, 'I don't feel comfortable doing this.' But he never did."

Joe Johnston, director
As quoted on ign.com in "Interview: Joe Johnston, John Fusco and Viggo Mortensen"
March 4, 2004

"Viggo Mortensen is an extraordinary person, [but] I suspect him to have a serious defect somewhere. This is just not possible, I never met someone who has no defect at all. He's got everything: he's kind, he's generous, he's tender, he's a pacifist, tolerant--I am also like that, I like tolerant people--and he helps everyone. He writes poems, he makes photos... That's extraordinary, he's handsome, he acts well... Then you say to yourself, it is NOT possible, such people don't exist. I didn't succeed in finding it, but there must be a defect, you can't be like that, perfect! (laughs)"

Omar Sharif, Actor, Hidalgo

March 24, 2004

Quotes from cast and crew: Lord of the Rings

"I don't think [Viggo's comments on the Charlie Rose show are] going to create a controversy... I am very proud of Viggo for saying what he said. I think not many people are saying that, not many people are raising questions. I always think it is important to question even your government, especially your government actually... I am not going to sit here and agree with every single word that Viggo said but I think it is important to question, and I think he used a very good venue. I always find it a little weird when celebrities take that opportunity and often I think it is the wrong place, like awards shows and things and people are like, I am going to make my political statement now. I always find that to be inappropriate and it takes away from the evening that is sort of at hand, whereas Charlie Rose is often a political forum and so it was actually a cool kind of tie-in and an appropriate time to make those kinds of points."

Elijah Wood, Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Scott Collura, Cinescape, "Elijah Wood: Return of the RING"
December 12, 2002

"He is the most committed, most devoted, the most.... He transforms his entire life into the character. I've never seen an actor go there the way this guy does."

Sean Astin, Sam Gamgee in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Tom Roston in Premiere, "The Hero Returns"
January 1, 2003

"When he started working, there was no question. This was Aragorn, this was the man who was meant to play this role. We had an immense amount of respect for him for being able to jump in so quickly."

Elijah Wood, Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Tom Roston in Premiere, "The Hero Returns"
January 1, 2003

"The people who were teaching him [swordplay] said that he was insanely talented. There's one scene [at the end of] the first film where a knife is thrown at Aragorn, who clocks it with his sword. One of the stunt guys who was meant to be his double said, 'I've been practicing that and I've never been able to [hit the knife] once, and Viggo hits it on the first take. I hate him.'"

Miranda Otto, Eowyn in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Tom Roston in Premiere, "The Hero Returns"
January 1, 2003

"He was always taking out stuntmen and buying them beer because he hit them one too many times. He just goes for it. Viggo's energy is endless. He knows no limit."

Orlando Bloom, Legolas in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Tom Roston in Premiere, "The Hero Returns"
January 1, 2003

"He had no knuckles. He'd been virtually slaughtered by everyone because he would not let anyone do his rehearsals. All his knuckles were completely bruised and cut and God knows what else. Every time that he had a scene, I said, 'Okay, now where did they hit you?'"

Perez, makeup man in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Tom Roston in Premiere, "The Hero Returns"
January 1, 2003

On Viggo's photography: "He doesn't walk by something interesting and ignore it. Let's face it, acting can be a very uncreative process. I can see why he wants to do other things where you don't have to collaborate with anyone else. It's more pure."

Miranda Otto, Eowyn in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Tom Roston in Premiere, "The Hero Returns"
January 1, 2003

"Viggo's favourite thing to do was to spring on me the night before, that he'd had a long talk with Fran and Peter, and he really wanted the whole scene to be in Elvish. And I love to speak Elvish but I was just like, 'Argh.' I wanted to kill him. Because it always seemed that I had more Elvish to speak when we were doing the scenes than he did. I'm glad he did push that becatuse it's so great to hear, and it really adds a beautiful quality and depth to their relationship, and to the film in general.

"Viggo really likes the ears; he would always stroke them. He thought the fans were going to have some elven ear obsession, so he had to throw a little stroke of the ear in to every shot he could."

Liv Tyler, Arwen in Lord of the Rings
Interview "Liv for It!" in Showcase Cinemas (UK) magazine
December 2003

"We had some very young and impressionable actors. Viggo set this example of: 'You know what's important? The art, the craft, that's important. Not how big your trailer is, and not how many assistants you have.'"

Barrie Osborne, Producer, Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Hugh Hart, San Francisco Chronicle, "V Is for Viggo"
December 1, 2003

"He brought to Aragorn this huge internal life that you don't see as much in the book. As filming progressed he became more and more Aragorn, and less and less Viggo."

Miranda Otto, Eowyn in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Tom Roston, The Mail on Sunday, "The King returns"
December 1, 2003

"After a long day's shooting, when all the other cast would be either in bed or in the bar, a nine-page handwritten memo would come rattling through the fax from Viggo, outlining his thoughts about that day's work and the next few days to come. This wasn't an exception - over 15 months, it became the rule. In the small hours, it was actually comforting to know that there was somebody else out there grappling with the same nightmare that we were."

Peter Jackson, Director, Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Tom Roston, The Mail on Sunday, "The King returns"
December 1, 2003

"He was just so giving and gracious. For a young actor starting out in the film industry, he was the most fantastic teacher I could have had."

Orlando Bloom, Legolas in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Tom Roston, The Mail on Sunday, "The King returns"
December 1, 2003

"From the moment that I saw him onscreen, I thought, 'Shit, he looks incredible. Here's a character I don't have to pretend to be in love with.'"

Miranda Otto, Eowyn in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Tom Roston, The Mail on Sunday, "The King returns"
December 1, 2003

"He's got an immensely capable exterior face and an immensely rich interior persona."

Jonathan Rhys-Davies, Gimli in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Bob Longino, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A pensive hero: Poet, painter, philosopher, photographer - 'King' actor has many faces
December 19, 2003

"When I first met him, we sat down in this real crusty place, the Green Parrot, and I remember not being able to hold a conversation, because I was so intimidated. There is something beautiful and quiet about Viggo, but the more I got to know him, the more I realized how insanely brilliant and crazy he is--how he has this insane wild side.

"Yeah, he's mental. But in a good way."

Elijah Wood, Frodo, Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Alex Kuczynski in Vanity Fair, "Finding Viggo"
January 1, 2004

"Fate dealt us a very good card.... He's an actor with huge integrity and professional responsibility, and, once he's committed to a movie, he's there for you morning, noon, and night. It doesn't matter what time of the day it is. It doesn't matter how long you've been working."

Peter Jackson, Director, Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Jamie Painter Young, Backstage.com, "Good Fellow"
January 5, 2004

"The guy is a stud with women just following him around wherever he goes. But he is the last one who'll ask anyone to do anything for him. He'd rather just go do it himself."

Elijah Wood, Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings
As quoted by Jae-Ha Kim, in the Chicago Sun Times, "Viggo Mortensen rides back in 'Hidalgo'"
February 29, 2004

Quotes from cast and crew: other movies

"I've just done a movie - Albino Alligator - with Viggo Mortensen, who's an actor I idolize. He influenced me in a way that has helped me move toward getting lead parts instead of supporting parts, merely through his presence. So now I tell everyone, as a joke, that I'm entering my Viggo Mortensen phase."

Skeet Ulrich in Interview Magazine
May 1, 1996

"Viggo Mortensen, who plays the part of David Shaw, is an extraordinary talent. He's somebody who's a true chameleon as an actor and adjusts himself to every type of part he's played, and in the case of David Shaw it was really important to find somebody who the audience would believe [Emily] could really be attracted to this person who reflected an entirely different life, who not only was good looking, but was creative, imaginative, had the time and energy to give to Emily."

Michael Douglas, A Perfect Murder
From the DVD audio commentary
January 1, 1999

"For Viggo, I think it's the experience of doing the work and achieving his high standards that are his measure of success. It's nice being able to morph and disappear and morph again and reappear. He's like Hollywood's secret weapon. The only problem for Viggo might be that it's not a secret anymore."

Diane Lane, actress, A Walk on the Moon
As quoted by Tom Roston in Premiere, "The Hero Returns"
January 1, 2003

"Certain people don't have a lazy bone in their body. Viggo is that kind of person who has to be continually on the move. He may sometimes bitch and moan about it, but he loves being busy."

Don Phillips, producer, Indian Runner
As quoted by Tom Roston in Premiere, "The Hero Returns"
January 1, 2003

"I remember Sean [Penn] saying to me on about the sixth week of shooting, 'Don, Viggo's going to be a humongous star.'

"I'll never forget when we were out one night and there was the poster [which highlights Mortensen's character] on Sunset Boulevard. We pulled over to the side of the road and Viggo said, 'Don, it frightens me.'"

Don Phillips, Indian Runner producer
As quoted by Tom Roston in Premiere, "The Hero Returns"
January 1, 2003

"Most actors seem to think that their art stops with memorizing other people's words. They always think, 'Oh, he's acting.'

"Rainer Maria Rilke said something like, 'If you ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night, if it were denied you to create, would you truly die?' I know that Viggo has asked himself that question and his answer was 'Yes.'"

Dennis Hopper, actor, Indian Runner
As quoted by Tom Roston in Premiere, "The Hero Returns"
January 1, 2003

"I think he has a quality of self-knowing that challenges everyone that he meets--perhaps unwittingly. But the electrical charge of that challenge of 'How well do you know yourself? Because I know myself real well.' You know, that's kind of the unspoken Viggo experience. He's also fascinated by other people. And when you combine those elements, it's very charismatic. It can definitely be interpreted as sexy."

Diane Lane, actress, A Walk on the Moon
As quoted by Tom Roston in Premiere, "The Hero Returns"
January 1, 2003

"He's a method-actor in a leading man's body."

Michael Douglas, A Perfect Murder
As quoted by Bob Longino, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A pensive hero: Poet, painter, philosopher, photographer - 'King' actor has many faces
December 19, 2003

"He can be as debonair as he wants. For that afternoon. But then the tramp will call him again."

Diane Lane, actress, A Walk on the Moon
As quoted by Alex Kuczynski in Vanity Fair, "Finding Viggo"
January 1, 2004

"He's not a good actor, he's a great fucking actor. I'm not a fan of Sean's other two movies, but [Indian Runner] is a hell of a movie. Don't live another day without seeing it. Mortensen is it. He's the real deal."

Dennis Hopper, actor, Indian Runner
As quoted by Alex Kuczynski in Vanity Fair, "Finding Viggo"
January 1, 2004

"I knew I wanted him for that role in such a way that I was saying, 'Please take some of my money and give it to him.'... Because he gives immeasurable depth to what he does, full commitment, full conviction.

"He's a man of mystery, for sure--that's rule No. 1.... He's being true to himself. And people here are not really used to that or comfortable with that. And I love the fact that, as far as I have been able to see, he has not given away any of his mystery. People want to figure you out so they can move on. But he's the one who moves on."

Diane Lane, actress, A Walk on the Moon
As quoted by Alex Kuczynski in Vanity Fair, "Finding Viggo"
January 1, 2004

"I worked with [Viggo Mortensen] 12 years ago on horses, we rode together down by the Mexico border in Arizona while working on Young Guns 2. He played a small role [in which] he rides along with Billy Peterson, who played Pat Garret. He plays John W. Poe, a historical bounty hunter who pursued Billy the Kid. We had all these young actors playing historical figures and I had all this research available. But it was Viggo who had this tiny little role, who just kept coming to me and saying [things like], 'You know, I was doing some research and copper was really big at that time and they were making copper rifle scopes. I think that Poe would've made his own scope, you know, as a bounty hunter to personalize his tool of the trade.' Then he would come back and say, 'What was Poe's relationship with John Chisum? Did he have any cattle interests...?'"

John Fusco, screenwriter, Young Guns II
As quoted on ign.com in "Interview: Joe Johnston, John Fusco and Viggo Mortensen"
March 4, 2004

Quotes from film critics

Hey there has to be a sour note somewhere. Seriously, other than the folks who are disturbed by Viggo's political leanings, this is the only less than positive comment I've seen so far.

"He's deadly earnest, and that can be a problem. He's always been very effective, but there's a sort of one-note earnestness that you get."

Peter Rainer, New York magazine film critic
As quoted in Variety Life, "Viggo Mortensen"
October 1, 2003

[back to top]