On Friday, after a banquet thrown by publicist Peggy Siegal for the film Captain Fantastic at Manhattan’s Explorers’ Club, I was waiting to speak with director Matt Ross (who, yes, also plays Gavin Belson on Silicon Valley) who was finishing up with some pleasantries with guests. It was at this point I was asked, “While you’re waiting, do you want to talk to Viggo?”
This is a funny question for a couple of reasons. First: Who, in my situation, says, “No thanks, I don’t want to talk to Viggo Mortensen”? Second: I didn’t even bother asking if I could talk to Viggo Mortensen at the last minute like this because he’s a famous person who looked really busy. Anyway, of course I said yes, as I then had to come up with topics to discuss in about the five seconds it took for him to walk over to where I was standing.
In Captain Fantastic Viggo Mortensen stars as Ben, a father of six who is raising his family in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, off the grid. After his wife’s suicide, he brings his family back to civilization for the funeral. Captain Fantastic is a unique film and it’s obvious that Mortensen loves it.
Here’s the thing about Viggo Mortensen: I could listen to this man speak on just about any topic for hours. His voice is both passionate and hypnotic. It’s impossible not to be engaged when he’s speaking because he presents himself with, somehow, both a welcome calmness and a focused intensity at the exact same time. It might be magic. I suspect it is magic. And he has a lot to say, from his own decision making process when it comes to starring in movies, to this polarized electorate that is the United States today.
I keep wanting to say, “Oh, this movie’s fantastic,” then I feel like I’m doing a pun and then I feel bad.
I feel the same, and when I talk about the kids, I often go, “Oh, they’re so fan…” and then I think about it and I say, “They’re so gifted.”
[At this point a man approaches and tells Viggo Mortenson that he’s a fan of two of his lesser known films Hidalgo and A Walk on the Moon.]
It would have been funny if he said, “I love this little known movie of yours, it’s called Return of the King.
[Laughs.] “Have you heard of it?”
Speaking of, I feel like after those three The Lord of the Rings movies, you were set up to be an action star if you wanted it, and then I felt like you just wanted to go a different direction.
I wasn’t constantly trying to look for something or avoid anything. I mean, I don’t really think about the budget of a movie or even the genre of a movie, or the nationality.