NEW YORK — Viggo Mortensen started his career out by roughing up guys like Dennis Hopper in The Indian Runner and Al Pacino in Carlito’s Way. He even ripped out Christopher Walken’s heart in The Prophecy.
And just look how mean he was as Demi Moore’s drill sergeant in G.I. Jane.
But lately something has happened. In Portrait of a Lady, he pined over his unrequited love for Nicole Kidman and in The Perfect Murder, he plays a sensitive artist romancing Gwyneth Paltrow.
“All three of the main characters in A Perfect Murder are ambiguous,” he warns.
To say any more would be to give away the devious twists and turns that make A Perfect Murder a rip-roaring good murder mystery. What can be revealed is that Mortensen created all 40 of his character’s paintings that are used in A Perfect Murder. He is not only an accomplished actor but a published poet and an artist.
“At my first meeting with Gwyneth, I took two photographs of her. I used both of them for the main art work in Murder. It helped me to believe in my character.”
In A Perfect Murder, each of the characters learn that they have been lied to by the person they trust the most.
“This is hardly uncommon,” says Mortensen. “I don’t know anyone who tells people everything about themselves. We all purposely keep secrets. I’m an actor so I’m definitely not in the truth business.”
Mortensen, 39, has been acting since he was 22.
“My first jobs were in Purple Rose of Cairo and Swing Shift but I was cut out of both of them. The first times I ever got onto the screen was in Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan and in Witness.”
His first decade in movies proved difficult and often financially unrewarding so Mortensen worked as a waiter, bartender and truck driver to support himself. In 1987 while working on the low-budget film Salvation, he met punk rocker and poet Exene Cervenka, formerly of X, and now of Auntie Christ. They married, had a son (Henry) and divorced.”
It was during the period he was married that Mortensen began accepting movies like Daylight, Crimson Tide and G.I. Jane.
“I had stayed away from commercial films because the characters didn’t appeal to me but I need to support my family.”