Capone has a GOOD chat with Viggo Mortensen about politics, THE ROAD, APPALOOSA, and THE HOBBIT!!!
Published at: May 11, 2009, 1:09 a.m. CST by Capone
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
In late October, as part of the Chicago International Film Festival's Closing Night festivities, Viggo Mortensen got himself a Career Achievement Award just before a screening of what will now be his next film to be released in theaters, a strange film that examines the fluid definitions of right and wrong--a movie called GOOD. Set in the early days of the National Socialist moment in Germany, GOOD centers on a professor who wrote a harmless novel years earlier that inadvertently is serving the Nazis as a justification for their theories of racial purity and the killing of the Jewish people. The book serves as such a great inspiration and blueprint that the professor is elevated up through the Nazi ranks almost without any ambition on his part to do so. Now that the adaptation of THE ROAD has been moved into 2009, GOOD is being pushed as Mortensen's shot at an Oscar for 2008. It's a quiet, understated performance about a complicated man, who is both far from flawless and far from guilty.
I don't tend to talk about the circumstances that lead up to any interview I do, but this particular day was interesting. Mortensen only spoke to three journalists during his short time in Chicago--one from a local newspaper, one from a local TV station, and me. Just to add some context to the beginning of our conversation, we spoke about five days before Election Day in November. In addition to his memorable work in THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, THE INDIAN RUNNER, CRIMSON TIDE, THE PROPHECY (he played the motherfucking devil!), G.I. JANE, A WALK ON THE MOON, and a pair of films with David Cronenberg (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and EASTERN PROMISES), as well as the criminally overlooked APPALOOSA earlier this year, Mortensen is a fierce activist. For those of you who hate it when actors talk politics, you may be forced to skip huge sections of the beginning of our conversation, which also covers his disappointment at THE ROAD's release date getting pushed back and whether or not there's a chance he'll appear in the two-film adaptation of THE HOBBIT.
Mortensen is without a doubt one of the most engaging people I've ever talked to. His answers about any of his films are not prepared or cut down to sound-bite-ready snippets. If the spirit grabs him on any topic, he goes with it, as you'll see from the beginning of our talk. Enjoy 35 minutes with Viggo Mortensen!
Capone: One of the most lasting images I have of you--I don’t remember the interview itself that well--but you were on Charlie Rose’s show with your T-shirt that you said was handmade by you that said "No More Blood for Oil."
Capone: 2002, right. And, that was pre-invasion of Iraq, wasn’t it?
VM: It was a good six months before it.
Capone: So, it was sort of an anticipatory statement.
VM: If you were paying just a little bit of attention, I don’t think it was that hard to come to that conclusion, any more than it was for someone like Dennis Kucinich. Unfortunately, he was pretty much alone in saying, “Wait a minute,” not only about the invasion, but, then, the Patriot Act--the other thing that was jammed down people’s throat. Even Democrats called him a traitor and “What are you doing? How can you vote against the Patriot Act?” And, he goes, “I’ll tell you why, fellas: ’Cause I read it.” And, they all clammed up, ’cause they hadn’t, and they voted ‘yes’.
You get caught up in this fervor. A respectable reviewer--I think it was Time magazine--who infamously in their…typically, their reviews are fairly short…his review for THE TWO TOWERS, which was coming out the fall of 2002, said things like--and, this is coming from a journalist who’s had many years of experience writing for an international magazine that on some level represents the United States, I suppose, Timemagazine does--that “the bearded Christopher Lee bears an uncanny resemblance to Osama bin Laden, and our heroes holed up in the stone fortress are equivalent…”--I’m paraphrasing--“…to the United States and the coalition of the willing against the Muslim hordes.”
I mean, it’s ridiculous, but you get caught up in the moment, I suppose, and you do things, which is, in part, what GOOD addresses. And, why I think it works so well and why I wanted to do the movie, because, unlike almost all movies that are made about that period--most of them are about the early ’40s, but this is about the ’30s, going into 1941-2--they’re always told, somewhat, in the same way in that they’re told with the benefit of hindsight. There’s a little comfortable barrier there, a little sort of transparent curtain that allows you as an audience to sit back, gives you a comfort zone, where you can say, “Yeah, those Germans, they’re crazy, man…those crazy Germans” or, “I’m not like that. That couldn’t happen now.” There’s always that comfort area, and that doesn’t exist in this movie.
I mean, this movie is not told with any kind of ideological intent. It’s just a story about people, making little decisions and not-so-little decisions on a daily basis, just regular people with families. And, all of a sudden, things change. And, things have changed very quickly, for example, in the United States and other places in the past five, six, seven, and eight years. And, you sit now as an American voter, as a citizen, or as a politician, I suppose, and you go, “Wow, had I known things would degenerate that quickly in terms of the judicial system, environment, our reputation abroad, our foreign policy, the economy, would I not have paid a little more attention and not made compromises on this, that, and the other?”
It happens in relationships, too. There’s many relationships in the story GOOD, but one of the main ones between the two friends, that played by Jason Isaacs and my character. I’m a professor of literature, he’s a psychoanalyst. We met in 1917-18 in the First World War. We’ve been friends ever since. He’s Jewish, I’m not, but that has never been an issue with us. All of a sudden, it’s made into an issue by the current government in the ’30s, but we’re, like, ‘Yeah, whatever. They’re ridiculous.’ My character even says at one point--it’s ’33, ’34--he goes, “Hitler’s a joke. He’ll never last.” It’s like saying, “Well, look at Bush. He’s not going to elected again.”
And, then, things happen, and people get caught up in it, and they forget themselves to some degree. Like the reviewer of THE TWO TOWERS…I’m sure if he reads that review now, if he’s got any kind of conscience or thoughtfulness about him, which I’m sure he does, he has to look at that and go, ‘Wow, I really got caught up in something there. What was I doing?’ He wasn’t really referring to the benefits of the movie or the pros and cons of the movie. He wasn’t even dealing with that. He was just jumping on some crazy bandwagon. You have to be careful.
Capone: The film GOOD, I think, is one of the most convincing films I’ve seen about the way ordinary people are caught up in something larger than themselves.
VM: That’s its strength. I think that’s one of the reasons why, as specific as it is, which it is--it’s very beautifully designed and photographed and the settings--it’s very accurate in terms of a period movie. But, it’s really, in some sense, you could say it’s not really about Germans or Germany or even the ’30s. It’s, like you say, it’s about people making these decisions and these compromises…and ordinary people, and kind of ending up where they didn’t expect to.
Capone: Yeah. I did find it interesting that the character you play in the movie spends a lot of time denying his own history, in a way. When people say, “You were a war hero,” he goes, “Well, I didn’t really see much action.” And, then, regarding the novel he has written, he makes sure to say it’s just fiction--not any kind of guidelines or blueprint, but they turn it into one.
VM: Well, there’s a combination of modesty and also not wanting to take responsibility.
Capone: That’s what I mean. I don’t want to call him ‘spineless’, but he retreats from his own history.
VM: Yeah, and people find that…it’s uncomfortable, because when people hear it’s another movie set in that period in Germany, ‘Oh, I know what that is’, and they go in there expecting something, a tour de force like SCHINDLER’S LIST. Or, they expect something like DOWNFALL--God knows what they expect--and then, they get something quite different. They get something where…and I’ve had this reaction, which is interesting, where someone…I mean, they care enough about it, they want to make this comment, “Well, you know, I was really into it, and I was going along, and I was going, ‘Yeah, I can see that’, and then all of a sudden, he’s got the Nazi uniform on. That’s bullshit.” I say, “Is it bullshit?” “No, it’s not bullshit, but I wasn’t comfortable with that.”
And, I say, “Well, that’s a whole different thing.”
Capone: That’s the point. That’s the turning point of the film.
VM: Yeah, exactly, and when you’re telling me, I say, “I’m not going to say for sure that’s what you’re saying to me, but…” to the person that says that, I say, “Consider the fact that, perhaps, you identified with this person and his choices and his circumstances.” “Well, yeah, I can see that.” And then, you got to a certain point, and you go ‘No!’ Well, is that because ‘No’ it’s impossible, or you don’t want to see yourself that way? You identify.
Capone: It’s another hindsight thing. You know where it’s going, so you’re, like, ‘I would never do that’.
VM: Yeah, it’s interesting, because I do think that if you showed the first 10–15 minutes of this movie to someone and then said, “Okay, cut to the last 10 minutes,” you’d go, No way. Only in the movies can a guy like that, who’s thoughtful, who’s a family person and all that, you know, kind of a decent member of society, and an academic to boot, so he’s thoughtful. And, he shows right at the beginning that when they say, “You’ve got to ban this writer,” he makes some sarcastic remark, because he knows exactly why--’cause he’s Jewish--“Why? Because he’s French?” He goes, “Come on. Don’t be obtuse,” and all that.
So, he’s thoughtful and has a conscience. And, then, at the end, to be in uniform, you say to yourself, if you saw only those two sections--the start and end of it--you go, “Well, only in the movies. There’s no way you can get from that, point A, to point R or S or whatever. That just doesn’t happen.”
But, if you see the whole movie, it’s just, like, if you look, if you just go back through the last eight years in the United States, you go, ‘Yeah, a lot of things can change very quickly, given the right circumstances, given the willingness of individual citizens to go along.’
Capone: Yeah. Are you going to stick around in town until Tuesday for the big election rally?
VM: Unfortunately, I won’t be here, but I would love to be here. I bet that’s going to be something, if--knock wood--I’m not going to be counting on it happening for sure, but it looks good. And, I think, if it doesn’t, it’s going to smell funny…Obama winning! We should actually say what we’re talking about! [laughs]
Capone: We’re in Chicago. We know what’s going on. It was interesting. When I was watching the film, I thought it was going to go in a very different direction. I thought he was going to become drunk with power the more he rose through the ranks, and there’s really only one scene [like that], the scene where he forces the guy who’s selling train tickets to sell him that ticket. That’s really the only time he ever even uses his…
VM: But, that’s not about being drunk with power. He uses it for a purpose.
Capone: But, that’s the only time he exercises that power on somebody.
VM: Well, I don’t think he’s comfortable, even in the uniform. It’s a funny thing. But, there are moments where this character--and that’s the part where people don’t want to…they’ll say, “I wouldn’t go there”--because it’s uncomfortable. Or, maybe there’s an element of them having seen me in another movie and going, ‘Oh, he’s going to do something at some point’. And, it’s not. He just keeps going down, down, down.
And, the moment where he’s in uniform, he’s sitting there and getting dressed. The wife says, “What’s the matter? I’ve never seen you this, kind of, upset or stressed out.” And, he goes, “I just don’t know what to do.” And, yet, he’s still putting his uniform on, buttoning it as he’s saying, “I don’t know what to do.” He’s supposed to go out that night and do…he doesn’t know what, supervise on Krystallnacht, as it turns out to be called, from all the broken glass in the Jewish shops, all over Germany that night, November 9. And, he says, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
And, then, when she says, “Look at yourself,” and he sees himself in full SS dress, looking at himself in the mirror, he knows there’s something wrong with this picture. But, instead of saying, ‘Wait a second’ and taking the uniform off, what he does is what we often do when we’re faced with a stressful thing, and we know we’re in the wrong. He’s, like, ‘Well, I just got to do this one thing. I got to go out and do Krystallnacht, then I’ll think about the uniform tomorrow’. No, no, no, you need to think about it now.
If there’s anything that this movie maybe says it’s “Pay attention. Pay attention.” It doesn’t mean you have to be aware of everything and solve every problem, ’cause that’s what people’s reactions sometimes are. This is not in any way a message movie, but when people think that they’re being told…Let’s say if you write a review and you say, “Well, this movie tells us that…” Well, fuck him. Well, I don't need to be told that I don’t do enough. I know that. And, people’s reaction to all these problems in the world, in Africa, in our own country, the economy, and so on, you feel bewildered, You’re, like, It feels like it’s either black or white. Either I’ll just, like, devote my life to trying to do good, or I’ll do nothing. But, there’s an in-between area. It doesn’t mean you should do everything, or can, as a citizen, or a family person, or a friend, or whatever. But, just do something. You’re on your honor. Basically, it’s your own conscience that will tell you are you doing quite enough to where you can feel okay about yourself, or are you not? Only you can answer that.
And, any government, whether it’s a democracy--in principle, a good government or a bad government, no matter where it is in the world--all governments, no matter how good they are at any point in time, have a single purpose, a goal, and that is to survive, to stay in power. And, you stay in power by making people feel powerless. That’s one of the ways: you make individual citizens feel, like, ‘Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it. Don’t sweat it. Truly, you are powerless, but it’s okay. Just be powerless and vote for me. It’s cool. Trust me.’ You know what I mean?
That’s what happens when you don’t take action when you know you should. There are moments, and you do know it. And, in that moment, he knows, when he’s putting the uniform on. And, there’s a reason why he avoids seeing his friend after a while. You don’t want to hook up with your best friend if you know you’re doing something wrong in your personal life or professional life, ‘cause they’re like a mirror--your best buddy or your mom or whatever it is, or your wife, or your son, or your father. You look them in the eye, and they’re, like, “You’re wearing that uniform.” “Yeah, I know, but it’s just…I got to wear the uniform.” He had an argument with Jason Isaacs, my character with his best buddy. At one point, he goes, “Well, at least I’m in the system, so I can at least have some say in the matter and control it.”
Capone: I’ve heard that argument before: If I’m in it, I can throw a wrench in it.
VM: How many times do you get Congressmen saying, “Well, I had to vote for the Patriot Act in order to get some other things done” or “At least I’m in there. It’s a means to an end.”? You’ve seen Obama do it in the campaign. What I hope happens, if Obama wins is that the movement he’s inspired, which is considerable, pushes him to take positions on certain things that he hasn’t in a very strong way or complete way in some areas in the campaign lately.
Bobby Kennedy, ’68 before he got shot…We think of him as an anti-Vietnam War candidate. He wasn’t against the Vietnam War. It was the movement that he inspired that pricked his conscience and on a practical, political level forced him to take that position, which he knew was right. But, he didn’t feel it was politically expedient. It became politically expedient when this mass of people he inspired of all colors and ages and walks of life were saying, “We want out of Vietnam.” So, I’m hoping that…I think Obama’s got a lot of integrity, but I do think any elected official…that’s what it is. Participatory government needs to be kept honest.
That’s the mistake we sometimes make in this country and probably other countries, too, where every four years or every two years, whatever, there’s an election. You do the “Whew, that’s done. We got the right guy in there. Now, we can relax.” And, that’s kind of like saying, “Yeah, we’ll let them take care of it.” No, we never can let them take care of it. That’s the point. And, you don’t have to be the PTA- or local politics-obsessive, crazy guy or woman in your community, but you can be involved on some level. At least read the paper, talk to your friends.
Capone: Moving on to something slightly lighter, but still related to GOOD. A lot of your more recent films have taken a sort of philosophical look at violence, and I’m wondering, Does GOOD fit into that at all? It is in an obtuse way dealing with it.
VM: I don’t know. I haven’t been conscious of picking those types of roles. I do think that most stories, and certainly stories I’ve been involved with, where they’re dealing with relationships or people dealing with people, in any way, whether they know each other well or not…in the end, it’s about affection or, if you want, about love--the giving of it, or the withholding of it, or denying it to someone, or rejecting it, if offered. You know what I mean? It’s that tension, and I think that those stories…the dramatic part of those stories that interests me--and, I think, any good story, the dramatic part of the story, what makes it interesting, why you’d want to go see it, why you’d want to talk about it afterwards--comes from those moments or periods of time, whether it suddenly happens or it’s a gradual realization, that things are not what they seem. That’s, I think, the source of drama in our lives and in books and movies, ’cause, I think, you, me, when we get up in the morning, we build our character, basically. I mean, we do, whether you’re conscious of it or not. You set yourself up for the day: ‘I want to shave, do this or that, trim the beard…I want to wear this today, because I’m going to meet these people, and I’m going to present myself in this way’. Whether you’re conscious of it or not, we do. We get up, and we build a persona to go out into the day.
But, our way of looking at the state of the nation, the state of the town, the state of our sports team, our loved ones, whatever it is, it’s what we want it to be, on some level. In other words, I think that we live in a dream world most of the time. And, it can be like a bus almost hits you, ’cause you’re daydreaming, or it can be the towers were knocked down in 2001, or suddenly, you got no umbrella, and it’s pouring rain. It can be anything. Or, you just get a phone call, and your mom’s in the hospital. Or, Obama lost. It could be anything. It could be small things, too, that just snap you out of that dreamworld that we kind of, for our mental survival, live in most of the time. And, it’s, like, ‘Whoa, this is here. It’s raining’. Things are not what they seem, or what I thought they seemed. They are this. It’s this that’s happening…and then what? The foundation of drama is that suddenly or gradually, you realize things are not what they seem. And, then, what are you going to do about it?
Capone: You just named a bunch of things that wake you up from that state that are all negative. Are there any positive things that function that way?
VM: No, you’re right, you’re absolutely right. That’s a good point. No, it can be…something wonderful happens. Or, you meet someone, you’re not even looking to, let’s say, fall in love, and, all of a sudden, you have this connection. Well, you and I are having a conversation, and you just said something that made me say, “Oh, yeah, that’s true.” You get turned around, and it either adds to what you’re saying, or it changes your mind completely about what you’re talking about or how you’re perceiving something. That happens a lot.
And, I don’t think that, even though as a writer, if I’m writing poems, a lot of times they come out of something that’s painful or difficult, complicated in some negative sense, and you’re trying to make it better or describe it correctly to get past it. It’s true, just like, a lot of times, for an actor, the roles that are written a little better are the ones that are a little bit darker sometimes. But, to me, I always look at my job, whether it’s in this role or any other one, it’s, like, ‘Okay, that’s what it says the person is like, and that’s what he sounds like, and those are the words he uses and how he interacts with other characters, but when is he not that way? Or, could he be a different way entirely?’ I mean, I always look for that, because I think people are complicated. Certain moments that are very simple, all of a sudden, and that’s that…Okay, all that stuff goes away, and you’re looking at someone, like we’re looking at each other right now, thinking whatever we’re thinking.
But, a lot of times, the roles are just on the page where you don’t have to put that much into it. The ones that are a little darker or negative sometimes are more interestingly written--the bad guys, the bad girls. And, it’s the same thing, if I’m trying to describe something that would be a wake-up call. I tend to…I was describing all negative things, you’re right, you’re right.
Capone: I can finally use some of my APPALOOSA questions I didn’t get a chance to ask, because I’ll tell ya’, I loved the hell out of that movie. I mean, truly.
VM: I just got back from Rome film festival. And, you’re in Italy, and you’re thinking, ‘What are they going to say?’ They loved it.
Capone: They love Westerns.
VM: Yeah, they really do. And, I also was in Argentina to open it down there. They really, really liked it, and they got all the little subtle things about the relationship, even though they’re seeing it with subtitles, you know. They totally got it.
Capone: The people I knew who went and actually saw it, adored it. It reminded me that you’re very underrated for your sense of humor in films. Even in LORD OF THE RINGS, you inject just little lines and bits of humor.
VM: I try to, yeah.
Capone: But, APPALOOSA is half a comedy to me, because it is funny. It’s just good to see you and Ed Harris play loose and bantering.
VM: Yeah, it was fun. It was enjoyable.
Capone: The gentle jabbing was my favorite. I could just watch you guys sit on a porch for two hours and do that. It was great.
VM: [laughs] I love that scene with the coffee, where he’s freaking out…where he’s asking me, “What do she want to know?”
“She wants to know if you’re married.”
“What did you say?"
"I said I didn’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know?”
No, it was good. That was like, what is it, like the “The Honeymooners.”
Capone: Just that whole three-way relationship and that scene where you tell Renée Zellweger, “You’re with him, and I’m with him,” and that’s the movie. That’s the key line there, is that it’s a three-way relationship.
VM: She was good, too, the way she jumped right in when she was telling me that they were building a house. And, I’m, like, “Oh, really, thanks for telling me!”
Capone: And, of course, it’s always good to see you back up on a horse.
VM: Yeah, I enjoyed it. Yeah, I’m glad that movie worked as well as it did. You never know with Westerns. They don’t make that many. It was hard for Ed to get it together. As lush and beautiful as everything looks in that movie--I mean, it looks like a $50 million movie, easily, or more--that movie is, like, a $20 million movie. I mean, nobody got paid very much, but it was very inexpensive. It was almost, like, on the line of a good-sized independent movie, you know. It was good. I’m glad it’s doing well, and it’s translating well in the other countries. France--they reallyloved it.
Capone: That’s great. Are you a little disappointed that THE ROAD has been pushed back?
VM: Yeah, I wanted to see it, sooner than later. I want to see how it’s all turned out.
Capone: Forgetting the awards talk and all that, I’m saying just to get it in front of people. Was the decision made from a business standpoint?
VM: Well, no, I don’t think it’s so much to do with it, if that’s what you’re alluding to, that there are so many other movies coming out?
Capone: No, I’m just thinking that Weinsteins might just have trouble getting all their movies out before the end of the year.
VM: Well, that could be, but I don’t think it’s that. My understanding is that they know that they’ve got a story that a lot of people want to see, because of the book. And, the people that read the book, which are many, were very moved by it and by this relationship between this boy and this man, in particular, in that setting. And, I think that they are really aware of the fact that they’ve got one chance to do it, and if there’s any little things that they still want to work on a little more, to get it just right, whether it’s the music--I don’t know what it is--a variety of things, they want to do it right. And, if you rush it out before you feel in good conscience it’s there…So, I am disappointed. I wanted to see it. I want to see how it is.
But, if they think they need a little more time, then I’d rather they took it than didn’t. There’s the thought, ‘Well, maybe, we can sneak in and get an award, nomination or something, or make some money right now’. And, then, you think about it later and go, ‘Well, if we only had done this and that, we really would have finished it, and then they really would have liked it’ or something. It doesn’t bother me that much.
What I hope they don’t do is then just put it out in February or something. I hope they wait and do it at the right time. I don’t know. Do you think it’s a fall thing?
Capone: Not having seen it, I can’t really judge it.
VM: I mean, you know the book.
Capone: Yes, of course. It does seem like this would have been the right time to put it out. But, if they can only support so many films at the end of the year…
VM: If they put it out next year, do you think they should wait until this time? Or, do you think putting it out in the spring is okay?
Capone: I think spring is fine. I think you’re right…January, February, March, probably not so much, but, April, May, that would be…
VM: And then what? And, then, hope that people remember it?
Capone: It happens more often than people think it does, I think. There’s usually one or two films that stay in people's minds through the summer.
VM: Or, they release it again or put out the DVD in the fall?
Capone: Well, that…actually it will probably hit DVD around the time that people would start looking and thinking about…
VM: …the year’s movies.
Capone: Exactly, right, exactly. I mean, we’re already putting together those lists now.
VM: For next year?
Capone: For this year, yeah.
VM: And there are a couple from earlier in the year?
Capone: I go back all the way to the beginning.
VM: Do you?
Capone: Yeah, and just work my way through, month by month.
VM: What movie can you think of from the beginning of the year that might make your list?
Capone: Quite a few of the best foreign films I see each year come out in the first six months. Then you get movies like SNOW ANGELS or THE VISITOR
VM: I liked that movie a lot.
Capone: That’s a perfect example of one from early in the year.
VM: Richard Jenkins is awesome.
Capone: And, he’ll get a nomination.
VM: Think so?
Capone: Without a doubt in my mind, yeah. He’s terrific.
VM: Oh, great. I love him.
Capone: And, that’s a perfect example of a movie from the first half of the year that I think people will hold on to.
So, I’ve got to ask this, or I'll lose my job…
VM: THE HOBBIT? [laughs]
Capone: Yeah. I’m guessing that Peter Jackson has not contacted you about participating, but would you even want there to be a place for you?
VM: Well, the first movie, if it’s going to be the book, I’m not in the book.
Capone: Right, exactly.
VM: The second movie, I would think they would do for story fun and also for economic reasons, I’m sure.
Capone: I would think it would link THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RING.
VM: Yeah, but that’s what I’m saying. They would do that, using what they legally have the right to, which I assume are the appendices of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. I don’t think they have the right to take whatever they want from the SILMARILLION, for example, but they could take from the appendices.
For example, we shot a sequence, Liv Tyler and I, and it’s in Lorien, and we’re walking around, and it’s when I’m still…you know, I’m wearing clothes that are more like something you’d see Legolas wearing. I have no beard. I have really long hair, and it’s partly in a braid. And, I’m wearing definitely elvish kind of clothing. I look like some young elvish lord. And, I think, I’m barefoot, walking in these flowers with her. And, we’re in that courtship period, you know, and because of our aging thing, we look similar. I look a little younger than usual, the no beard helps and all that.
And, it’s a memory, right, and it was meant to be used as one of those moments where I’m remembering something about her. They didn’t use it. So, they could use that, and then they could shoot other things in that vein. I don’t know, they could make up a certain amount of things that would be in the spirit of Tolkien, I have no doubt. People ask me about it a lot, and I say, obviously, “Nobody’s come to me,” but I won’t be surprised if they do, if I’m right for it in their eyes. Obviously, as an actor who originated on film that role, I’d rather finish the job, all things being equal, meaning, Is it a good script, and do they have their shit together, than see another actor do it.
Capone: Right. Well, yeah, yeah, nobody wants that.
VM: I mean, I’m as interested in principle in the idea as, maybe, some of your readers are. [laughs]
Capone: Well, that’s good to hear.
VM: Yeah, why not?
Capone: So what’s after THE ROAD for you? What’s coming next? Anything with David Cronenberg?
VM: Well, you never know. I mean, we talk a lot. To be honest with you, the last job I said ‘yes’ to--it must have been in September, October of last year, 2007--that was when [director] John Hillcoat offered me the role of the father in THE ROAD. And, at the time…Well, my agent said, “This man would like to talk to you. You want to call him about this?” And, I said, “Oh, that book. It’s a good book, but you know I don’t…”
They said, “I know you’ve said you’re really fried,” which I was, I was going back to back…I went from GOOD right into APPALOOSA with no prep time, other than on my own, looking at photographs and trying to build some kind of character, and talking on the phone with wardrobe people and stuff. But, I knew I’d show up a day or two before to jump on a horse I barely knew. But, at least, I knew how to ride. I knew it was Ed, so we would figure it out.
It went well, but I was already pretty tired, and I’m fried now. And, I was saying, “I need to take a little break.” And, when you say you want to take a break as an actor, people think he stops, goes off the set, and he’s taking a break. No, it’s, like, stopping a ship on the Great Lakes, one of those big freighters, and you say, “I wanna stop the boat’ or ‘I wanna turn the boat, one way or another’. You got to plan that miles ahead, because of all these promotional commitments that go with it, which I’m happy to do, obviously, and more so, when it’s a movie that you believe in, like, I do believe in GOOD, for example, and I want to really make sure it gets a chance. It deserves it.
But, even though I said I’m not going to do anything more than a year ago, I’m still working, working, working--finishing the movies, reshoots, promotion--I’ll be doing it into January. So, I have said ‘no’, which is not easy. When you want to get a job, that old cliché, you can’t find one, and when you don’t want one…[laughs].
And because of being nominated for awards this past winter and so forth, and just accumulation of good stories that I’ve been able to be part of in recent years, I’ve been offered more good scripts by more talented people this year than ever in my whole career. And so, it’s hard to say ‘no’, but if I don’t, I’m not going to stop for a bit. I just want to stop, so I can recharge and figure out and deal with family and other things I like to do. So, the short answer is No, I have no plans at all to do anything. I still, probably always will…like acting as a storytelling, as a way of telling stories, but I could just as easily do a play where I don’t have to do promotion after the play is over. I don’t know.
Capone: Plus, you want to keep your calendar open in case Guillermo del Toro calls you.
VM: Well, you never know. [laughs] Yeah, that would be hard to turn down, if it was the right thing, but, I think that’s a ways off.
Capone: Yes, it is.
VM: When are they making the first one?
Capone: I believe they start shooting in the fall of next year.
VM: So, there’s two years before I’d even have to work for him.
Capone: That's assuming they don't shoot them all at once again.
VM: Well, if they do that, then it could be earlier.
Capone: Viggo, thank you so much. And enjoy the evening tonight with your award. Congratulations on that.
VM: Yeah, thanks. And I hope people like the movie. It was great to meet you. Thanks.