Viggo Mortensen: "I put the alfajores aside"
As if he chose the most tormented characters among the twisted ones he´s offered, Viggo Mortensen agreed to play the Father in the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy´s The Road
. He and his son roam through devastated lands and confront dangers in the form of other starving human beings in the film which is announced for the end of the month.
Mortensen talked to Clarín
on the phone, identifying as he usually does with his role. You filmed in terrible, complicated circumstances. How did it go?
Obviously to be truthful to the novel it was not enough to film in devastated settings, places where the environment had been destroyed by men or natural circumstances, be that earthquakes or hurricanes; we also went to New Orleans, we coexisted with landscapes and every day we had the ghosts of injured or dead people. We hadn´t taken this into account, to make an emotional journey at the same level of what was surrounding us. But in the film you look thinner.
I ate much less; I put the alfajores [sweet pastries covered in chocolate] to the side (laughs). Superficially I had to slim down quite a lot. Kodi (Smit-McPhee) was an Australian, had never seen snow in his life; he was so sensible that the first day he said to me, " ‘I´m freezing...’ But I was thinking that we already had enough to do, dealing with the story, without thinking about complaining because we were cold, that up to a certain point it’s OK, right? He did not complain more than a normal amount, and kept going.
It was also a challenge to play a such a taciturn character. Film is a visual medium; I have been fortunate to begin my career with small roles: often they give you few words and you get used to finding a way to express yourself. Anyway, in my opinion a good performance is a matter of reacting to what happens, or what they say to you, not necessarily with words. It's not the first time you've had a character like that.
Exactly, in Eastern Promises
and in many films that I've made. Also, in the way they filmed The Lord of the Rings
, my character (Aragorn) did not speak as much as in the book. What you see, what the character feels is reaction without words. It's not a problem; a lot of times it's problematic to have to speak much in films because they don't write good scripts and that nonsense can often be expressed in a few words. And in every script that I get even if it's with little dialogue, I always look for what I can do without words. Many times I've said to a director, "Look, I believe that I can do this with less dialogue." People are not stupid, they understand what's going on, and if you have a very good co-star like I had with Kodi, he expresses a lot without words. It's easy. But if you don't have a director that pays attention to the details, especially in the editing, you lose a lot. Are you in the cutting room with your directors?
No. It interests me and I have learned a lot watching how what is done is portrayed on the screen; what remains of yourself, what doesn’t. It’s quite common that they spoil things, it’s sad but true; there's a lack of talent, vision. But I don’t get involved. If I’m ever a director, it will be different. There are actors who get into it or insist, whatever, but I think it’s not my thing. The truth is that the more lasting memories, the beautiful things I remember in a shoot, are things that happened with the cast and crew, are often the rehearsals, or moments that were not used afterwards, things that are not going to be seen. Unique moments that only happen once and may not work in the context of the story that is going to be told. When do you begin A Dangerous Method, the movie about Freud and Carl Jung, with David Cronenberg?
I begin filming at the end of May. I was fortunate that he offered it to me when the actor who was to play it (Christopher Waltz, from Inglorious Basterds
) left and decided he would do a, let´s say, bigger thing (he means Water for Elephants
, with Robert Pattinson). So, well, his decision was my luck, because I obviously like filming with Cronenberg. And also it´s a role that is not on screen all the time, so I can get away from time to time to take care of my family and my other things. ( Collapse )