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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Viggo Mortensen, Writing, and The Road

I don't consciously model my fiction characters often after a real life actor, but I find we tend to "absorb" these people we see and admire in so large a life, and "make them our own." The character I've modeled after Viggo Mortensen is not him, and not any character he has ever played, not even Aragorn in the three Lord of the Rings movies, but in another sense, he is a part of the character I wrote about in my James Taylor post, a "wild" man redeemed by the sound of a young woman's voice. It is the actor's facial expressions and manner of speaking in certain key scenes that "resonate" with me as an author, for example, when Aragorn tells Eowyn he cannot be who she wants him to be. My favorite of the three Lord of the Rings movies is The Two Towers, in part, because of the relationship between Eowyn and Aragorn.

I did not see Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises. I think I was afraid to see the level of violence described, after seeing him in A History of Violence, an excellent and disturbing movie. Both he and Maria Bello, as his wife, earned academy awards, though he was never nominated, and she did not win in her category. I am planning to see The Road, which is coming out today. I was not aware of the film until a week ago, so you see I am not a Viggo groupie, but when I saw an advertisement, I decided to seek out the movie trailer. The first trailer released is morbid. The second trailer gives the world portrayed some hope. The movie is based on the 2007 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

Click on the arrow to view the trailer, or click on YouTube and watch in wide screen HD.


  1. I am so excited for this movie (thought somewhat dreading the suspense and darkness). The book was indeed dark, but that's certainly no reason not to enjoy it.

    Please report back! :)

  2. Annie, I read the book a year or so ago and found it very miserable, but there was hope at the end. It'll be interesting to see if the movie sticks to the book. Viggo is lovely, so maybe that'll entice me along. Thanks for posting.

  3. I just read this bleak and astonishing novel. I will definitely see th emovie.

  4. It seems I often see the movie first and then read the book. I enjoyed Atonement that way, and the Lord of the Rings books.

    I hope you'll all write about what you think of the movie, too, either here or on your blogs!

  5. Hi Joanne,
    I like your description of Viggo as lovely. I wouldn't have used that term, exactly, but I know exactly what you mean!

  6. Hi, Annie. You are so right about how certain actors or people influence our writing. A lot of times, we don't even realize it.

    "The Road" looks great. Thanks for letting us know, because I haven't heard of it yet. I tend to miss out on all the good movies when they first come out, so I appreciate this post.

    I've never seen "Eastern Promises" or "A History of Violence," either. I'm queasy on gratuitous violence, but I don't mind it if it makes a point. "Of Mice and Men" is one of my favorite novels and movies. It's very depressing but intended to make us think. Of course, it's nowhere near as graphic as some. I was wondering if these two are with a point or if the violence is just gratuitous. Anyway, I'll definitely add "The Road" to my viewing list!

    I'm off for a bit of Thanksgiving travel and will check back in as soon as I have internet connection. I hope you have a beautiful week.

  7. Hi Julie,

    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a beautiful week, too! We're visiting my mom and my brothers and sister.

    History of Violence is hard for me to describe. I don't want to give anything away if you do decide to see it. The violence is intense and graphic, but within the context of the movie, and the issues it explores, it is not gratuitous. The acting is excellent, particularly the scenes between Mortensen and Maria Bello, and the storytelling, painful to watch, is expertly handled.

    Eastern Promises I don't know about, because I chose not to see it, at least not so far. I have a friend who's seen it, and she enjoyed the movie, if enjoyed is the right word. You'd probably want to read some reviews first. I suspect it is not so well made as History of Violence.

  8. I neglected to mention I'll be away all weekend, so I don't know when I'll get my chance to see the movie. If anyone sees it before me, please post about it, without spoilers, of course!

  9. Eastern Promises and A History of Violence were both terrific movies for Viggo. The steam room fight scene in EP and the love-making scene in AHOV were as intense as I recall seeing anywhere - they fit the word "epic" well. I liked Viggo in Hidalgo and Appaloosa as well. His studied mannerisms in Appaloosa were striking.

    If you spent a minute or so checking him out in Wikipedia you will find, as did I, that he pretty prolific in his movie-making, writing, art and photography. Hell of a man!

    Yes I read The Road and will definitely enjoy what Viggo does with the role!

  10. I like to create sophisticated fantasies around small bits of reality, but rarely manage to put them on paper. Mostly I live them in my mind.
    This should be an interesting movie. Another one that I'll have to wait to come on DVD, though. Not much going out for movies with a little child.

  11. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for all your information and insight. I never saw Appaloosa, but I plan to see it, now that I've become aware of the movie. I enjoyed Hidalgo, but as a light, fun movie, of course. I'd read about the intensity of the steam room fight scene in Eastern Promises; probably why I avoided the movie, but I'm considering seeing it, too.

    In the past, I'd read a bit about Viggo's background, and learned, like you, that he is an artist and a poet as well as an actor. One interview I read made him sound a bit neurotic; and I've also read he made a lot of crude jokes during the filming of The Lord of the Rings movies, but most cast members loved him for it. He "lived" the part of Aragorn, often camping outside and not washing his hair.

    He was perfect in the role, but he was a last minute replacement, when they decided the original actor was too young for it. The first scene they filmed with Mortensen was a major fight scene against the ringwraiths on Weathertop, and Elijah Wood (Frodo) is quoted as saying he experienced Mortensen as if he really were Aragorn!

  12. Hi Lori,
    I know what you mean. It's so hard to get out to a movie when you have a young child. My husband and I never used babysitters, so we just didn't go out to movies when my son was little.