Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen Films

Lord of the Rings

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A Viggo Theory

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in Lord of the RIngsFirst let me make it perfectly clear that I'm not certain how much of this is really about the human named Viggo Mortensen. Rather it is about a popular fantasy of who he might be, the figment of a collective imagination. I am guessing that many aspects of the fantasy and the real person overlap, but as I do not personally know Viggo, I won't try to speak to that.

On the other hand, I'm afraid that I can speak to the potential for obsession. Perhaps I am fooling myself to say that I've experienced only a brush with these feelings, but at least part of me has been aware and chuckling with amazement and a wee bit of embarrassment since its onset in late March of 2004.

Viggo and Diane Lane in Walk on the MoonUntil then I was largely unaware of Viggo Mortensen. He was so thoroughly Aragorn in my mind that it never occurred to me to find out more about the actor until my friend Lynn talked me into going to see Hidalgo. I enjoyed the movie, and then as it happened Walk on the Moon was playing on TV the next day so I watched it too. Uh oh. A dangerous movie that one is, especially for a woman who has been single a bit too long lately!

I went online to see if he had been in any other movies, and what I found surprised and intrigued me. In addition to the 40-odd movies featuring bits of Viggo's work, I found that he is a creator of photographs, paintings, poetry and music. I found that his co-stars invariably speak with admiration and affection of Viggo and his skill, dedication and integrity, that he is a committed parent and has evidently managed to stay clear of the drugs and other scandals so common in Hollywood. Received Pronunciation by Viggo MortensenI found hundreds of fans, mostly women, publicly proclaiming their adoration for this man, and sharing personal stories of encounters with Viggo in which he showed patience, humor and appreciation for their support, with no traces of condescension. I discovered that he and a partner started Perceval Press, not just to publish Viggo's work, but to give a voice to undiscovered talent and to promote books that express their progressive political views. And I caught hints of some sort of "Viggo philosophy" with a focus on creativity, being in the moment, doing what you believe in and not wasting energy worrying about what others are doing or what they think about you're doing.

Viggo wearing hand-painted anti-war shirtIt was overwhelming. I wanted to know more. I didn't come up for air for hours, or perhaps it was days? I downloaded photographs, listened to sound clips, ordered three movies from Amazon and three books and a CD from Perceval Press. I read interviews and scoured forums looking for conversation on a deeper level from the all-too-common "oooohh he's so hot!!" followed by "I want to have his baby!!" Yes, people really do write these things. But they have also been inspired to explore their own creative possibilities. Visit the Viggo Chronicles, Viggo-Works, The Farthest Outpost, or Errant Vines forums and you'll find people encouraging each other in creating paintings, photographs and poetry, and having a good time in the process.

When I finally stopped and counted how many hours I'd spent studying the tracks left on the Internet by Viggo's fans, I was a bit unnerved. I have a lot of work that needs doing! I can't afford to spend this kind of time mooning over some movie star, no matter how fascinating he is. And it's not like me to get this way. I appreciate some actors, actresses and musicians more than others, but I don't become obsessed with them. Even Patrick Stewart has never gotten this much attention from me (sorry Patrick), even though I've been a Star Trek fan for many years. Son of Gloin, photograph by Viggo MortensenI've racked my brain and the last time I can remember doting on a public figure was John Lennon shortly after the Beatles released their White Album in 1968. I was younger then; surely that was simply a girlish thing.

But when I thought further about why I chose John Lennon to adore back in 1968, I realized there is a common theme between then and now. Because John Lennon was not just a pretty face -- he was intelligent, a dynamic and creative force. He was a man who seemed to treat other people with respect, and who cared enough about the political situation of that time (the Vietnam war) that he spoke out against it. These are all qualities that Viggo seems to share, and furthermore they are exactly the qualities that are so attractive in a person and so often elusive.

Viggo, photographer on the moveBecause of course it's not about the pretty face or the trim body. Sure, Viggo is handsome, but so are thousands of other men. I live in a town with a large population of semi-professional athletes (mostly bicyclists and whitewater kayakers), and on hot summer days they're cute in their little shorts but that sort of thrill is short-lived. Viggo is interesting because he's got integrity and intelligence and a sense of humor but mostly because he passionately pursues what he's interested in. That's what makes him attractive. I think maybe all of us lusting after this Viggo fantasy are really looking for something more real in our lives but we don't know how to find it directly so we get it vicariously by following him.

Did you ever see the Monty Python movie, Life of Brian? It's a comedy in which the townspeople all decide that this rather ordinary fellow (Brian) is the Messiah, and they chase him around seeking answers. After trying to dissuade them, Brian finally shouts to the crowd, "You must learn to think for yourselves!" And of course they all echo in unison, "We must learn to think for ourselves!"

Viggo's broken tooth while shooting LOTRWell it reminds me a bit of us Viggo-obssessed fans. Viggo is pursuing what interests him, regardless of whether it meets with popular approval, because he has this pure artistic vision that says that each of us needs to express what's inside. And we're running after him saying "Yes, we all want to obsess on Viggo and his art; it's the coolest," instead of finding and pursuing our own creative visions and our own lives. It is safer to join the Viggo fan club than to recognize and speak our own truths and fan our own creative sparks into flame.

Perhaps it sounds harsh, and I'll have to speak only for myself here as I don't know what motivates other fans. But I think sometimes I am afraid I won't meet others' approval so I hesitate to speak my inner truths. When I see Viggo's fearlessness I admire it in him and crave it for myself. The next step is to find a way to cultivate it in myself, because expressing creativity vicariously through adoring or emulating Viggo or anyone else is ultimately not satisfying. Like tackling loneliness with chocolate or despair with alcohol, it may mask the feelings but doesn't address the underlying needs.

So what's my excuse for spending all this time creating a Viggo fan site so that I can tell the world how I need to spend less time mooning about Viggo and more time being a creative and active force in the universe? That's easy -- designing and developing web sites is my favorite creative outlet. Just think of this as therapy. :-)

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