Viggo Mortensen is about to storm the cinema screen again in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. And, from past experience, female hearts will be beating just that bit faster at the thought of a bloodied Aragorn charging into battle on his steed.
Most actors would be pleased enough – no, absolutely thrilled – to be cast as a heart-throb in one of the biggest trilogies in cinema history. But apparently not Viggo.
Adoration is not enough. He has to spoil it for the rest of the male population by having an exhibition of his own landscape photographs to coincide with the world premiere in New Zealand. His photographs were called arty things such as Lost 1, 2, 3 and 4. These ones were taken while he was lost in the wilderness.
And Viggo appeared at a poetry reading for charity, possibly the only sold-out poetry reading in human history. He was well down the bill, but shrugged that off by saying there were some very good poets reading their work that night.
When composer Howard Shore conducted the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in a Lord of the Rings concert with four choirs, Viggo joined in. Singing in Elvish.
Once, it was not that hard for an ordinary Australian male to appear cultured. If you knew STC didn’t just stand for Sydney Turf Club. If you knew Peter Carey wasn’t just an AFL umpire. If you knew Les Murray wasn’t just a soccer commentator. That would do it.
But Viggo has raised the bar. There’s a VM (Viggo Moment) guaranteed to take the rest of us down a peg. How can we hope to even get near competing with a man who, when invited to address the crowd in New Zealand, starts by speaking flawless Maori. While wearing a UNICEF shirt.
Any attempt to speak semi-knowledgeably about a film, book or play is bound to look feeble in comparison.
You want to show your tender side with your affection for a favourite pet? When Viggo finished shooting Lord of the Rings, he bought the two horses he’d been riding to take home. Trumped!
Want to appear relaxed and in control of a stressful situation? When Viggo met the world’s media before the premiere, he padded around a five-star hotel in bare feet. Out-nonchalanting everyone.
Want to appear committed to your job? Well listen to VM #71. When Viggo was cast as a deaf mute on a film, he decided not to speak to anyone for the entire shoot. He scribbled notes to the crew and ordered food by pointing.
His dedication was such that he faxed his ex-wife (hah, a chink in the armour!) to say he’d call his eight-year-old son, but not speak. While young Henry chatted away, Viggo made breathing noises to indicate he was still there. Now that makes staying late at the office and working the odd weekend seem positively pathetic!
Want to seem well-rounded in female company by mentioning that you wrote a short story once or have a complete collection of Ramones albums?
Be wary: she may mention VM #157.
Viggo is releasing a CD (along with guitarist Buckethead and guest appearances from Viggo’s actor friends), of music, spoken wordplay and aural collage. Called Pandemoniumfromamerica – yes, that’s one creatively long word – it’s reputedly “a sonic snapshot of 21st century disorientation and dissent”. And he’s dedicated it to Noam Chomsky, no less.
Want to enhance your working class credentials by mentioning that you do a little home renovating or can change a tyre? While living in Denmark, Viggo (VM #221) worked as a truck driver.
Not only is he passably good-looking – OK, quite good-looking, OK, he was named one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by People magazine last year – Viggo mostly appears in movies with cool directors, such as Peter Weir (Witness), Jane Campion (The Portrait of a Lady), Sean Penn (The Indian Runner), Brian De Palma (Carlito’s Way) and Ridley Scott (G.I. Jane).
When cast as a painter in A Perfect Murder, he did his own murals for the film. He speaks Spanish and Danish, as well as English. He doesn’t own a television, but he does have a publishing house.
If you’re female, you’re no doubt wondering where you can get Viggo’s phone number, even if he’s only breathing strangely down the line. And you’re probably thinking that every male you know seems like Homer Simpson in comparison.
But what’s Viggo really like? Would he honestly be the answer to any woman’s prayers?
I say no. And I’m prepared to suggest he’d be the stuff of nightmares rather than dreams. The bare feet around the house, the time all those interests must take. And – this is a big call for someone who has never even met the guy – there’s a certain neediness about all these Viggo Moments. And an earnestness. Lighten up, Viggo!
The rest of us might look like shop-worn merchandise as you gaze at Aragorn on screen, but, hey, we’re flesh-and-blood. We’re real.
Have to go. Time for my Maori lesson. We’re studying Chomsky today.