In “Lord of the Rings,” he protected the Shire and the Fellowship of the Ring. These days, he’s more likely protecting the original visions of some of the world’s most exciting – and challenging – young moviemakers, and bringing them to larger audiences.
Doing so, Viggo Mortensen, U.S. born, Argentina raised, New York-bred, of Danish descent, has leveraged wisely his star status and fanboy suzerainties, dazzled with his dominance of not only English and Spanish, but Danish, Amish and Lakota, and played some not exactly super-hero roles, characters who are ineffectual (Lisandro Alonso’s “Jauja,” a Cannes winner), conflicted (David Oelhoffen’s “Far From Men,“ a Venice prize winner) or plain seedy (“Drive” screenwriter Hossein Amini’s directorial deb, “The Two Faces of January”); to all of whom Mortensen has brought not so much his good looks but a large humanity.
One case in point: Lisandro Alonso’s “Jauja,” which brought Mortensen to the summer resort of Mar del Plata last weekend, where he was its unquestionable star at the opening ceremony of Latin America’s only “A”-grade festival.
For an actor who has been the lead in one of the world’s biggest movie franchises, Mortensen hardly acts off-screen like a Hollywood super-star. He has a problem in Morocco, for instance, he confesses at Mar del Plata. Like Pope Francis, he supports Argentina’s San Lorenzo de Almagro. He’s also a fan of Real Madrid. The two will face off in the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup, which takes place in Morocco Dec. 10-20. For the first time, he says in interview, he’s wishing that Real Madrid will lose.
A quick discussion of the improved defensive abilities of Spain’s Isco Alarcon and Colombia’s James Rodriguez, two world-class attacking mid-fielders, follows.
In “Jauja,” which is set in 1882, Mortensen plays Captain Denisen, a Dutch surveyor brought in at the end of the Argentina’s Conquest of the Desert, a euphemism for its army’s wholesale slaughter of its native inhabitants.
On “Jauja,” Mortensen took a production credit – as on “Far From Men,” in a practice begun on Ana Piterberg’s 2012 “Everybody Has a Plan” – and arranged the (spare but important) score. He is also highly articulate – in this case in English – about what he wanted to achieve with both. Read the rest of this entry »