Viggo Mortensen Quotes

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Viggo Mortensen

Mortensen at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival
Born Viggo Peter Mortensen Jr.
(1958-10-20) October 20, 1958 (age 58)
New York City, New York, United States
Alma mater St. Lawrence University
Occupation Actor, author, musician, photographer
Years active 1984–present
Spouse(s) Exene Cervenka (m. 1987–98)
Children Henry Blake Mortensen (b. 1988)

As far as money goes, there's a saying in Denmark: 'Your last suit doesn't have any pockets.' You can't take it with you. You can make all the money you want, but who cares?
Viggo Mortensen
I'm certainly curious about people. As a kid, I moved around a lot. I was raised in a lot of different places, and thanks to working in the movies, I've gotten to keep traveling. I've always been interested in other cultures and languages.
Viggo Mortensen
The Holocaust movie is almost a genre in itself these days.
You see people on the street yelling and think they're crazy, but maybe they're just happy and expressing what they feel at all times.
Viggo Mortensen
I've never had a problem with people paying attention to what you're doing and say they find that they liked it.
Viggo Mortensen
More often than not, the experience of shooting the movie has been disappointing and the end product has been a mere shadow of what I hoped it would be. But immersing myself in the story – that's what I like best of all.
Viggo Mortensen
'The Road' is about that fear that all parents can have – 'What's going to happen to your child if you're not around?'
Viggo Mortensen
I think every family is dysfunctional, and some manage to control it better than others.
Viggo Mortensen
I have a roof over my head. I had a breakfast, and a lot of people in the world can't say that. I'm not going to complain about being interviewed.
Viggo Mortensen
Saying you are a patriot does not make you one; wearing a flag pin does not in itself mean anything at all.
Viggo Mortensen
I mean, any movie or story that makes you accept and be grateful for something about your life is doing something right.
Viggo Mortensen
Ignorance breeds antipathy. Until I got to know how computers worked, I didn't want anything to do with them. I said, 'Well, why do I need them? I write letters.' Which I still do.
Viggo Mortensen
I hate divers, like Cristiano Ronaldo, who might be the greatest athlete in the sport, but he's a big baby. If things are going well he's great, but when things are going badly it's the ref's fault, it's his teammates' fault.
Viggo Mortensen
Some actors learn the habit of promoting themselves as a brand – by dressing in a certain way, by going out with a certain person – it gives them what they obviously want, which is to keep a level of fame. I'm not putting it down.
Viggo Mortensen
I'm not that involved in personal grooming. But I try not to be offensive to people.
Viggo Mortensen
You know, Freud accepted his lot very stoically and very well and with a sense of humor. He aged and died gracefully, and there's a lot to be said for that.
Viggo Mortensen
Further devastation of the air, land and sea is obviously a very real possibility, unless the attitudes of politicians and all who irresponsibly exploit our natural resources change significantly in the very near future and all collaborate and sacrifice for the good of the planet.
Viggo Mortensen
I've been lucky to learn by playing all kinds of roles and watching all kinds of really good cinematographers, actors, and directors for many years before people were even aware of me in terms of audience.
Viggo Mortensen
Sometimes a scene works and acting is the easiest thing in the world and you don't have to do much of anything – just enjoy yourself and listen to the other actor. When it doesn't work, then every actor has different ways of dealing with the impasse. Sometimes you use memories from the past. Whatever. It depends from job to job.
Viggo Mortensen
Freud was the son of a Jewish merchant who had to move his whole family to Vienna because he couldn't get work. He, as a boy, had to watch his father be mocked and abused on the street for being Jewish… You develop a thick skin and you develop a certain kind of wit to defend yourself.
Viggo Mortensen
You know, 'Viggo' is a pretty dorky name in Denmark. It's like 'Oswald' or something. It's a very old Scandinavian name, at least 1,000 years old.
Viggo Mortensen
I have a work ethic. If I say I'm going to do something, I do it.
When I have a day off, I won't spend it at a Hollywood party. I'd rather be at home with paints and a blank canvas.
Viggo Mortensen
For 'Hidalgo,' I just spent as much time around horses as I could, which made sense.
Viggo Mortensen
In the end, the actor's main power is the power to say, 'No.'
We live as though there aren't enough hours in the day, but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.
Viggo Mortensen
Nobody really knows anybody completely, even if they've been married to 'em for 53 years, you know?
Viggo Mortensen
You know, real life doesn't just suddenly resolve itself. You have to keep working at it.
Viggo Mortensen
Each time I make a movie, it's like a paid scholarship to a different university course.
Viggo Mortensen
Travel is one of the best anti-war weapons that there are. I've been to Iran, and if you're there you see little kids, cops, old people, cemeteries. Once you see that, you can't say, 'Oh, Iran, let's bomb them.'
Viggo Mortensen
I prefer the smaller acting than big histrionics. It's about reacting and looks, which is often underestimated.
Viggo Mortensen
People like to pigeonhole you. It's easier.
It's just like with people. You're going to get along better working with them – human or equine – if you ask politely rather than demand that they do things.
Viggo Mortensen
In terms of the movie business, being in a 'Lord of the Rings' has given me more interesting options as work.
Viggo Mortensen
When I land in a country and they ask for 'occupation,' I always just put 'artist.' I think that covers all of it.
Viggo Mortensen
I think that every person has many, many people inside of them. We change our personality depending on who we are talking to or what situation we are in.
Viggo Mortensen
People talk about method actors, meaning someone that's prepared very, very well, or whatever they mean when they talk about it. But the right method is whatever works for you. And what works for me on any given day is going to be different.
Viggo Mortensen
With few exceptions, one ought always do what one is afraid of.
I try to research or make up for myself what happened in any character's life. From when he was born until the first page of the script. I fill in the blanks.
Viggo Mortensen
Anyone can identify with those moments in life where circumstances or people inform us that we've strayed from the path of our better nature and intentions. We know what that's like, and we resist it – so as not to feel like we're bad people.
Viggo Mortensen
When I make a movie, I don't break it down and analyze it. I could but it would get in the way of doing a job – on instinct based on all the research we did going in. you want to trust yourself and your director and your acting partners in the circumstances you're shooting. I don't like to have any kind of overview.
Viggo Mortensen
It's hard not to get depressed when you pay attention to the world and how strangely and corrupt the people in it sometimes behave.
Viggo Mortensen
Kids accept where they are because they don't know the past. They know what they have; they know where they are.
Viggo Mortensen
When I was a little boy, I rode, but I didn't own horses.
I'm sort of contrary and stubborn sometimes. When everybody says, 'You have to read this book! You have to read this book!' I'm like 'Oh, I'll get around to it.'
Viggo Mortensen
I was raised speaking English and Spanish. And I also speak Danish. And I can get by in French and Italian. I've acted in Spanish and English, but when something has to do with emotions, sometimes I feel I can get to the heart of the matter better in Spanish.
Viggo Mortensen
I'm optimistic about people and about the planet and about nature. I think it's resilient, like people are.
Viggo Mortensen
When I heard Puerto Ricans in New York City, it sounded very strange. And the first time I heard someone from Spain, I thought they had a speech impediment!
Viggo Mortensen
Sometimes you look at a movie and you can see that the actor or actress said, 'I'm taking this onboard because I'm making a ton of money, and not because it's going to be something special.'
Viggo Mortensen
In a lot of places in the United States and certainly even more places around the world, the image of the cowboy has become, for some people, a negative one. The word 'cowboy' implies a strong, stubborn individual whose individualism depends on pulling down other people's individualism.
Viggo Mortensen
Adult characters are all the things they've encountered over time. But kids haven't accumulated all the life experience, all the regrets. They tend to be more in the moment, more willing to play, to be joyful.
Viggo Mortensen
Toronto Film Festival is one of those festivals where there are 400 movies, and unless you have a distributor who is super confident and puts a lot of money into it, sometimes movies can go unwatched or unnoticed.
Viggo Mortensen
Awards for arts, where you make comparisons, don't make much sense.
As a kid I read Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and a few others. As an adult have admired Leonardo da Vinci's drawings and notebooks.
Viggo Mortensen
Life is short and the older you get, the more you feel it. Indeed, the shorter it is. People lose their capacity to walk, run, travel, think, and experience life. I realise how important it is to use the time I have.
Viggo Mortensen
I don't have a BlackBerry or whatever you call it. And there is something to be said for being isolated and out of phone range, because you can fall into a habit to such a degree that you don't even realise that you've lost something: silence.
Viggo Mortensen
You know, real life doesn't just suddenly resolve itself. You have to keep working at it. Democracy, marriage, friendship. You can't just say, 'She's my best friend.' That's not a given, it's a process.
Viggo Mortensen
This basic thing I always do: 'What happened between the character's birth, and page one of the script?' Anything that's not in the story, I'll fill in the blanks.
Viggo Mortensen
It's very rare you get a great script just handed to you, or sent to you, by someone you don't know.
Viggo Mortensen
I grew up with horses when I was a kid in Argentina. I like them. I respect them. I'm careful around them. You never know what they're going to do. They're endlessly interesting. I've had some good acting partners that were horses over the years.
Viggo Mortensen
I know people who prepare their roles in such a way that they technically look ahead and memorize their gestures, and then they stick to it. Those that are technically proficient enough can make it seem natural, but they do that and don't really take in what other people are doing.
Viggo Mortensen
Jung viewed Freud as a mentor, but he never wanted to be anybody's disciple.
Viggo Mortensen
A little recognition is not a bad thing because it means people appreciate your work. The only problem is when you can't walk down the street or have a meal without people looking at you. I want to be the one looking at people.
Viggo Mortensen
When you're under stress as a human being, you behave oddly and your relationships with people become strained.
Viggo Mortensen
I'm just looking as always for something that's stimulating and I hope to find a good story that's a challenge, whether it's big or small. Or that it finds me. I don't have like a career plan. Maybe I should, but I don't.
Viggo Mortensen
I like a twisted sense of humour. On 'A History of Violence,' David Cronenberg and I would be doing the grimmest scenes and laugh a lot.
Viggo Mortensen
People will like to say that 'Eastern Promises' is brutal, but the only reason they say that is because the scenes stick with them. They are realistic. They are in-your-face and you see the consequences. It's not a bunch of quick editing cuts.
Viggo Mortensen
In principle, I think the idea of rewarding a good effort is interesting, but movies are generally different from each other as are performances and the conditions on how the performances are given and how they're edited and so forth.
Viggo Mortensen
When there is conflict, it's good to step away, even for five minutes, because you could say terrible things that you can't take back, so it's best to walk away.
Viggo Mortensen
To be an artist, you don't have to compose music or paint or be in the movies or write books. It's just a way of living. It has to do with paying attention, remembering, filtering what you see and answering back, participating in life.
Viggo Mortensen
Life is short and the older you get, the more you feel it. Indeed, the shorter it is.
Viggo Mortensen
I'm very comfortable in Argentina. I was raised there as a baby and stayed there until I was 11 years old, so the first decade of my life or my formative years were spent in Argentina. I stayed in tune with the food, music and language.
Viggo Mortensen
Some people who like dogs don't like cats, but I'm not like that.
I really enjoyed working with New Zealanders as crew members, as teammates. They're great, and it's a beautiful country. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and I've traveled quite a bit.
Viggo Mortensen
You can't really divorce yourself and your life from the world you live in.
Viggo Mortensen
I have never been in a natural place and felt that it was a waste of time. I never have. And it's a relief. If I'm walking around a desert or whatever, every second is worthwhile.
Viggo Mortensen
It's not the end of the world if I can't get a film job, or if a movie doesn't turn out well – even though I don't like it when that happens. There are other things I enjoy doing, and I involve myself in them.
Viggo Mortensen
One of the main ways that leadership stays in power is by, in various ways, convincing people that they should just let those who are in government govern: 'Trust us. Trust me. Just let us take care of things. Stay out of it.' Your opinions don't really matter. You are isolated. You are insignificant.
Viggo Mortensen
I think that people who get to a certain position, and then try to ferociously defend it or build on it, it's kind of a dead-end street. You see people becoming miserable that way.
Viggo Mortensen
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren't enough hours in the day but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.
Viggo Mortensen
I like the detail work of telling a story in small pieces, as is done in movie-making, and also the long leap of faith needed to see a theatre performance through each night. Both require focus and self-discipline.
Viggo Mortensen
I've never played a Dane in a movie. I've had offers to be in Danish movies, including for some good directors, but I either had a job at the time or, when I was available, the movie just didn't happen. Hopefully someday I'll do one.
Viggo Mortensen
It's always interesting to play a character that obviously has a secret.
Viggo Mortensen
I'm not a great fan of monarchy in general, but I have to say the Danish monarchy is closer to the people; it's not as stuffy as the English one.
Viggo Mortensen
It's amazing to me that Glenn Beck can be on the cover of 'Time,' and there can be a whole article about him basically saying, 'Well, you know, he's controversial.' It's like, 'No, he's a dangerous idiot who needs the help of a good psychiatrist!'
Viggo Mortensen
Most actors can't make any kind of living.
I don't like people who get into fights about football – or anything else.
Viggo Mortensen
I love rehearsing, but a lot of directors don't, and some actors don't.
Viggo Mortensen
I've never been conscious of having any real career plan, and I do not have a wish-list of actors, directors, screenwriters, or cameramen I'm hoping to work with. Life, I feel, has a way of leading us to the right situations and people, or at least to interesting ones.
Viggo Mortensen
I would literally climb out of the cradle while my parents slept, go and crawl off. I did this a couple of times apparently. I'd cross the road and into someone's house, wake them up banging pots and pans in the kitchen.
Viggo Mortensen
If there's one thing I've learned from traveling, it's that it is definitely more important how you are than where you are. You can say, 'Oh, I hate X city, I hate that country, or I prefer this city,' but it's a little bit up to you to find some kind of happiness.
Viggo Mortensen
Those who have the power and should be the most responsible are often the least responsible.
Viggo Mortensen
I like stories that leave you wanting more, leave you wondering, but don't tell you everything.
Viggo Mortensen
Be kind. It's worthwhile to make an effort to learn about other people and figure out what you might have in common with them.
Viggo Mortensen
In a way, editing is not unlike the movies. The best books, just like the best movies, are a collaboration. They're only as good as the compromise made between the artists involved.
Viggo Mortensen
What art does is it makes you feel alive and makes you feel like you're connected.
Viggo Mortensen
Like most people – unless they're very practised at it or have no warm blood at all in their veins – I feel a little apprehensive about the red carpet. It's always a bit bewildering when people are taking pictures and asking questions before the ceremony.
Viggo Mortensen
I don't think you get to be pope without making some enemies, like you do when you're president.
Viggo Mortensen
On a practical level, poetry isn't something anybody has really made a great living at. I might sell some books and, once in a while, someone might pay to hear me read.
Viggo Mortensen
I think every family is dysfunctional, and some manage to control it better than others.
Viggo Mortensen
At the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century in Austria, there was a lot of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism in Austria was much more pervasive than in Germany. And Austrians took to Nazi ideas and anti-Semitism much more readily than Germans did, really.
Viggo Mortensen
A lot of times, movies that are in the top 10 lists or maybe even win Baftas or Oscars, you then watch them a year later and you go, 'Maybe it wasn't so great.'
Viggo Mortensen
To be honest, I don't really care about any pope. It's not something I think about much, to be quite honest with you.
Viggo Mortensen
In a lot of ways, I envy someone like Omar Sharif who lived in a hotel for decades.
Viggo Mortensen
I'm not afraid of death, but I resent it. I think it's unfair and irritating. Every time I see something beautiful, I not only want to return to it, but it makes me want to see other beautiful things. I know I'm not going to get to all the places I want to go.
Viggo Mortensen
I'm an optimist; I always hope that each new script is going to be a great story.
Viggo Mortensen
If you're trying to please everyone, then you're not going to make anything that is honestly yours, I don't think, in the long run.
Viggo Mortensen
The money I earn from films means I can help the people I want to help – you can do a lot of good if you want to.
Viggo Mortensen
The best thing an actor can be is flexible, because all directors are different and all actors are different.
Viggo Mortensen
I don't think Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell fear competition from me in their arena.
Viggo Mortensen
Most movies are lucky to have one moment, one shot that you look at and you always remember that moment and that scene.
Viggo Mortensen
'The Road' is about that fear that all parents can have. What's going to happen to your child if you're not around? It takes those concerns to an extreme. In the film, without me the boy has no food, no shelter, no resources at all.
Viggo Mortensen
There's no sense in doing something, especially if it's a hard job, if you can't have a little fun.
Viggo Mortensen
'The Road' was a movie that has a good reputation, even though it wasn't released very well, but that's a movie I'm very proud of.
Viggo Mortensen
I realise how important it is to use the time I have. I respect people who want to do that by watching television. I happen to want to read books. But I know I can't read all the books or watch all the movies in one lifetime.
Viggo Mortensen
Every year I hear people complain that the quality of screenplays and movies is declining. In my opinion, the vast majority of scripts written – as well as most movies that are released – are not very original, well-written, or interesting. It has always been that way, and I think it always will be.
Viggo Mortensen
Be kind. It's worthwhile to make an effort to learn about other people and figure out what you might have in common with them. If you allow yourself to be somewhat curious – and if you get into the habit of doing that – it's the first step to being open minded and realizing that your points of view aren't totally opposite.
Viggo Mortensen
It doesn't take that many years for a kid to realise that they're going to die. It's always there in the back of their mind the rest of their lives.
Viggo Mortensen
I have no idea what 'method actor' means.
I like naturally occurring film grain, and what happens to film when it's under- and over-exposed.
Viggo Mortensen
It's true that I have a wide range of interests. I like to write and paint and make music and go walking on my own and garden. In fact, gardening is probably what I enjoy doing more than anything else.
Viggo Mortensen
Usually the characters I play are men of few words, who communicate in non-verbal ways.
Viggo Mortensen
Yes, I would agree that America, just like Spain was in the 17th Century, is the main empire of the world and they are the ones who, on the surface, are the most pushy: pushing their language, pushing their culture – or what there is of it – pushing by force their system on others.
Viggo Mortensen
One of the most effective tools that the Cheney-Bush junta has used to marginalize dissenting or even mildly inquisitive American citizens has been the accusation of being unpatriotic.
Viggo Mortensen
I'm not afraid of death, but I resent it. I think it's unfair and irritating.
Viggo Mortensen
Pinochet and Barack Obama both have the same primary goal, and that's to be president and stay president as long as allowed.
Viggo Mortensen
You can't really go back to where you came from. I don't think any of us can.
Viggo Mortensen
When we shot 'The Lord of the Rings,' we had special permission to film in wild areas of New Zealand that could be accessed only by helicopter. They would drop us off and we would work all day, and they'd pick us up and take us out again.
Viggo Mortensen
In a movie, you're raw material, just a hue of some color and the director makes the painting.
Viggo Mortensen
I suppose a good director is like a teacher. I think that someone like David Cronenberg was very much like a teacher, because there's an openness, but a certain set of rules of behavior, and a certain conduct expected. But there's an atmosphere that's relaxed and conducive to exploration, and that is created by someone like Cronenberg.
Viggo Mortensen
Like most people I can be lazy, so it's nice to have a goal or deadline or reason to work out. I feel better when I get to exercise, or when I'm outdoors. I like to hike, swim and run, and I love to play soccer.
Viggo Mortensen
With any character I have played, there's infinite possibilities for how they might behave, depending on who they are talking to or how they react to things.
Viggo Mortensen
If in my twenties I'd gotten one of the two-dozen roles that I did screen tests for and almost got, I think I would have become bored with the awards circuit, the whole hype machine.
Viggo Mortensen
I think maybe because I do other things and they mean as much to me as movie acting, it takes the onus off me. It's not the end of the world if I can't get a film job, or if a movie doesn't turn out well – even though I don't like it when that happens.
Viggo Mortensen
The first decade of your life is really important; it's formative.
My goal is just to make movies, whether they're big or small, that I'd like to see 10 years from now.
Viggo Mortensen
Walking down the street in any town or city in the world and having people look at you and start talking to you, convinced that they know you as well or better than they do members of their own family, that's just an odd phenomenon. But I mean, I wouldn't say it was a bad thing. It's an interesting thing.
Viggo Mortensen
I don't like the 'must', the 'always', and the 'never' words. I don't like 'no' either.
Viggo Mortensen
I like movies that leave you with something to think about, to discuss, to debate, you know?
Viggo Mortensen
Photography, painting or poetry – those are just extensions of me, how I perceive things; they are my way of communicating.
Viggo Mortensen
If you don't find some way to discuss what's going on inside you, it can come out in other ways that are self-destructive.
Viggo Mortensen
I have a publishing company of books by me and books of others. It drew people to poetry readings and photo exhibitions and painting exhibitions that I've been doing for years before that.
Viggo Mortensen
I try to avoid conflict. I don't want people to be unhappy.
You do need to get lucky, no matter how talented you are.
I have a multicultural background, so I tend to have an open mind about things, and I find other cultures interesting.
Viggo Mortensen
I know I said I wanted to live forever and I would never be bored, but the reality is, it's probably kind of sad to live forever if you're the only one sticking around.
Viggo Mortensen
Any nominations a movie gets helps to raise the level of curiosity in the public, so in that sense awards and nominations are important.
Viggo Mortensen
I was raised in Argentina until I was 11 and now I go back there a lot, at least twice a year. It's a country where I feel very comfortable and it represents an important period in my life.
Viggo Mortensen
I think, on a surface level, people are surprised to see me playing such a passive role in 'Good.'
Viggo Mortensen
Looking at acting, in the movies or the theater, and the way I like to look at it, it's just an extension of childhood play… Kids play and imagine in a very intense fashion and they don't need any director telling them, 'You really have to believe in it.' They believe in it completely.
Viggo Mortensen
I'd like to, when it's all said and done, say that I have at least a few stories that I feel proud of.
Viggo Mortensen
In my opinion, the vast majority of scripts written – as well as most movies that are released – are not very original, well-written, or interesting. It has always been that way, and I think it always will be.
Viggo Mortensen
Being an actor, imitating to the point of inhabiting the lives of others, may simply be a way of continuing to do what I learned to do as a boy – to travel, mentally and physically.
Viggo Mortensen
There's no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there's no excuse for boredom, ever.
Viggo Mortensen