“They didn’t have an inkling until they showed 20 minutes in Cannes, in May of 2001.
Excerpt: "I can say it, my conscience is clear," he says without a hint of vanity.
"I did my best to study and find as much as I could.
Mortensen’s 26-year-old son Henry – from his ex-wife, the American punk rock singer Exene Cervenka – who was a Tolkien fan, egged him on to do it, and even took a couple of uncredited roles on the shoot, turning up as an Orc in The Return of the King. Now, 14 years on, Mortensen has enough distance from the series to admit that the process of making it was more or less complete chaos.
“Anybody who says they knew it was going to be the success it was, I don’t think it’s really true,” he says.
Mortensen’s latest, sensationally good, performance is as Chester Mac Farland, a con man losing his grip in Hossein Amini’s top-notch period thriller The Two Faces of January. Because The Talented Mr Ripley is really trying very hard for you to see that it’s this period, and it’s these clothes, and it’s these houses, whereas Hossein wasn’t at all precious about any of that.
With its in-demand cast (Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac co-star), Patricia Highsmith source novel, and the chic, summery setting of Sixties Greece and Turkey, it’s a film that couldn’t have been made without the precedent of Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr Ripley (1999), though it was shot on roughly a third of the budget. He was always saying that simple was best.” Mortensen sees Chester as an autodidact, a man who “consumes knowledge”, even though he’s a desperate fugitive, on the run from angry investors he defrauded in America.
Mortensen tends to play listeners – whether the laconic adventurer-king Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, or Nikolai, his Russian mobster in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises.
It’s part of what makes the 55-year-old Danish-American star an old-fashioned sort of movie idol.
Don't miss the photographs by Perou, including the famous cover photo with the blue scarf.
'I’m listening,” Viggo Mortensen says, his back turned to pour a glass of water.
Mortensen brushes it off as “inferior in her oeuvre”, before checking himself. Chester’s a loser, he’s a slob, he’s kind of pathetic, and he’s a bad person.