Barbara is a reviewer who got the opportunity to interview Viggo Mortensen recently. She sent in this report:
“Okay. I admit that I was beginning to get a bit tired of all those stories that describe Viggo Mortensen as the proverbial Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes. But the thing is — he is. He did a day of interviews to promote Hidalgo in Munich yesterday, and when I arrived at the Hotel Mandarin Oriental, right next to the Hofbräuhaus (after spending a blissful hour sipping coffee and reading a book in the first real spring sun at the Viktualienmarkt), they were hopelessly behind schedule. One reason for that was that Viggo, who had a terrible cold, returned twenty minutes late from his probably much-needed lunch break. The other was that the guy lugged a carton of books with his photographies from interview room to interview room all day, in order to sign and personalize one for every journalist. Which wasn’t only tremendously nice, it was also time-consuming. (I’m told he does that in every city — he’s making the rounds in Europe, Scandinavia and Spain last week, Rome today, London on Wednesday, then home. He does have the books pre-sent to the hotels, though. )
“So the six of us (a terribly incongruous group that kept getting into each other’s way during the interview) sat there, grouped around the proverbial round table, when in came Viggo, wearing socks, beige slacks, a plaid shirt and a United Nations fleece jacket, lugging his carton and a bottle of mineral water. He asked how everybody was, made sure our recording devices were all set, and set to work. Questions ranged from what he’s going to do next (relax, get back in shape, spend some time with his family and T.J., his horse, and then consider what’s on offer — no concrete next project yet), how and why he chose Hidalgo (because he liked it enough to make it fit in even though he was still pretty much tied up with The Lord of the Rings), what it was like to shoot in Morocco and to work with Omar Sharif (great because of the different, real cultural dimension; Sharif’s one of the greatest living actors–“for me, good acting is good re-acting” — able to do the subtle stuff that awards are made of, and that he added the film-historical connection with Lawrence of Arabia), the Long Riders Guild’s claims that Hopkins’ story is a tall tale (Bullshit!), about the revival of the Cowboy movie (for him, despite the efforts of certain American presidents to use the cowboy image to as a bully image, cowboys are movie archetypes like knights, so he welcomes it, also as a chance for folks like legendary wrangler Rex Peterson to stay in work), commonplace stuff like that.
“Of course his answers were much longer than my summaries — four to six minutes each — so it was frustrating when 18 minutes into my mp3 recording the publicist came in and said “last question.” Interesting tidbit: One of the Natives he worked with during the shoot is offering him a mustang mare that is supposed to be a descendant of the historical Hidalgo. While he said that he isn’t sure if he can handle another horse in his life, he finds the offer tempting because it would give him the opportunity to breed her to T.J., one of the film’s Hidalgos that he also bought. (By the way, Uraeus and Kenny, his two LOTR horses, are not “on his ranch in Idaho”, as the APHA press release states, but they’re still in New Zealand, because Viggo thinks of maybe moving there permanently.)
“Disarming moment: When he wanted to show the group a photo of Uraeus and realized that he had no more copies of his horse book in his carton, so I handed him mine, which I’d ordered and got in the nick of time, and he asked where I got it, so I said I bought it, and he said: THANKS! So, yeah, he is everything the articles say: Decent, soft-spoken, but also outspoken, with a quiet sense of humor and, well, just good to talk to. I wish we’d had about an hour longer, but I knew what I was in for, and I wanted a general impression, and that, I got.”