I can only speak a little bit English, so please be patient with me. Thank you!
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I’ve finally got some time to type the whole Viggo’s interview from this book. Only for sharing, not for profit. The author and interviewee reserve all the rights!
And here’s more information about this book: http://vimeo.com/14961216
If you have imagined doing or feeling a thing, you are capable of doing or feeling it.
Viggo Mortensen has appeared in numerous films includingThe Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003). He has twice worked with director David Cronenberg, starring in A History of Violence (2005), and Eastern Promises(2007).
Preparation for a role
I always ask myself some basic questions in order to begin the building of any character, regardless of the type of personality to be represented: Where was the person born and where and how was the person raised? When and how did the character go out into the world as an adult? What kinds of relationships has the character had, and perhaps will continue to have with other people? What are his given and his learned physical and mental abilities, skills and proclivities? Is the character inclined to listen to others or not? I believe that People can roughly be divided according to whether they are good listeners / observers or not.
In the end, regardless of how much work I am able or inclined to do prior to shooting, it is always the experience of interacting with the shooting environment that will set the final tone and provide the last touches for shaping a persona. The exterior and interior aspects of the character are always combined and largely indivisible during preparation as well as in the final performance.
There is a lot of information that can be gained from respectfully interacting with people who have backgrounds or occupations similar to those of a given character. There are often unexpected aspects of speech, body language and ways of reacting to my inquiries that reveal personality traits that can prove useful. I have not found anymore of a need to meet ‘real-life’ models for preparation of criminal characters than for non-combinations. I believe that everyone has varying combinations of positive and negative personality traits, varying tendencies to conceal the truth, react out of fear, insecurity, greed, or desire. It is a question of focusing on and accentuating what we know already, what we are capable of. If you have seen something first-hand or if you have imagined doing or feeling a thing, you are capable of doing or feeling it.
I tend to combine an in-the-field, direct observational approach with the fruits of where my imagination might take me. Even the most fantastic character or setting a writer can dream up can be given a foundation based on direct observation of ‘real’ people, starting first and foremost with oneself.
First memory of crime
I remember finding on the shore of a like, a maggot-riddled baby’s corpse in a burlap bag. I would have been about seven or eight years old at the time. Prior to that I remember car accidents, including seeing a woman pedestrian run over, and various fights, and beatings of people and animals.
I learned to treat others with respect and to not steal, lie, cheat or bully, from my mother, father, grandparents, books, movies, nuns, aunts, uncles, teachers and priests. I do not believe that violence is ever forgivable, even in acts of understandable self-defense. While I understand, for example, that my characters in A History of Violence and Eastern Promises use violence for survival purposes or to defend others, I do not see violence in itself as a positive or productive act. War and killing are always wrong and counterproductive.
I can best answer the question of whether violence is ever justified by borrowing Tolstoy’s words, ‘All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do.’
Joan of Arc, Adolf Hitler, assassins, doctors, witch-hunters, priests, teachers, parents, children, slave owners, inquisitioners, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Idi Amin, various popes and leaders of various religions, Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh, Conde Duque de Olivares, Eva Perón， Henry Kissinger, Bob Flanagan, Edith Piaf, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Charles Manson, Winston Churchill, Michael Corleone, policemen and policewomen, Tony Blair, Jesus Christ, Alexander the Great, and others too numerous to mention.
The Battle of Algiers, Andrei Rublev, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Ren & Stimpy cartoons, Taxi Driver, Dog Day Afternoon, Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, Criss Cross (1949), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Rocco and His Brothers, City of God, Road Runner cartoons, The Godfatehr I and II, On the Waterfront, Chinatown, Pickup on South Street, Fahrenheit 451, The Birth of a Nation, the Underdog cartoons (my all-time favourite), and others too numerous to mention.