In an interview with Kevin Maher published April 2, 2009, in the London Times, Viggo Mortensen talked about the grueling schedule of travel associated with film promotion and stated that he is taking an indefinite break from movie acting:
“In the past week I’ve been from LA to Japan to Korea to Poland to here,” he hisses, describing in near disbelief the travel itinerary for his current promotional tour. “It’s ridiculous! It’s not a healthy way to be. But, as it happens, I’m taking measures to change that.” Which are? “No more movies. I haven’t said yes to one in over a year. I’ve been in all these well-received movies and it seems like I should be doing some more, but there’s other things I want to do. It’s not the right time.”
When asked when it might be the right time to come back to film-making, he could only answer that he didn’t know. This doesn’t mean that Viggo will be idle.
He says that, of course, life goes on, and that he’s a busy man. As well as a new collection of published poems, called Songs of Winter, there is also a Spanish language production of Ariel Dorfman’s play Purgatorio that he plans to perform in Madrid this winter. “I haven’t done theatre in 20 years,” he says. “And that terrifies me more than death.”
Viggo Mortensen also talks about the just-released Good, which he is currently promoting.
“Everywhere I’ve seen this movie play, it ends, the lights go on, and people are completely unsure,” he says, beaming with pride. “They don’t know what to think. And I’m like: ‘That’s OK. This movie doesn’t give you that tragic finale so common in the Holocaust genre. That’s because it’s as much about us, the viewers, as it is about Germany or the Germans.'”
Mortensen gets a kick out of this. He likes the way the movie tricks us, and asks us what we would have done, and at what point we would have said no to the Nazi war machine. He also likes the tricks that the movie plays with his image, how people expect a square-jawed hero on screen, and how shocked they are to find Middle Earth’s unswerving Aragorn as a dithering Nazi puppet. “People have expectations of me, I suspect,” he says. “And here those expectations are, um, subverted.”
We suspect that anyone who has seen Viggo Mortensen in his wide range of roles, from the whiny Lalin in Carlito’s Way to the seductive hippie Walker in Walk on the Moon to the tough, disciplined and even brutal Master Chief Urgayle in G.I. Jane, would not be at all surprised at his ability to play this character—or any character, for that matter.
For more on the film, visit our Good page. For the full interview (well worth reading), visit the Times Online.
Update September 2018: sorry but the Times Online link is broken and we’ve been unable to find a copy of the original article.