Friday, May 21, 2010

Viggo, Posterized

With the Cormac McCarthy adaptation The Road coming out on DVD on Tuesday (I'm eager to give it another look) I thought we should focus on one of the best actors working: Viggo Mortensen also known as "Aragorn"

<--- Viggo at twenty-two

Aragon's filmography is super odd. Or maybe not. In many professions if you do good work, your career very gradually swells but there's plenty of detours and error along the way as you feel your way up the ladder. I guess it just feels odd in the context of the movies. When we think of leading players in Hollywood don't we tend to think of them in terms of overnight sensations, has beens, or stars that have always been and will always be with us and seem to have arrived fully formed (Streep, Pacino. That type)?

Viggo fits none of those categories but he's very much a leading actor. I remember reading a magazine article about him around 1998 or so -- I think it was in conjunction with the release of A Perfect Murder -- calling him "the hot new 39 year old" as if he were a) new and b) way too old to find stardom. As it turned out he wasn't. He was too young.

Here's the posters... albeit missing a few.
Scroll carefully as there's an intermission this time!

Witness (85) -debut | Prison (88) 1st leading role | Fresh Horses (88)

Leatherface TCM III (90) Young Guns 2 (90) The Indian Runner (91)
Viggo's first solo poster! (Thanks, Sean Penn)

Boiling Point (93) | Deception (93) | Young Americans (93)

Carlito's Way (93) | The Prophecy (95) | Crimson Tide (95)

Portrait of a Lady (96) Albino Alligator (96) Daylight (96)

INTERMISSION: At a casual glance it seems like his career is just one solid upward slope of increasingly large parts in fairly successful films (he's third billed in the Sylvester Stallone action flick) but it's actually messier than that. In the mid 90s he's also doing straight to DVD movies plus he's dipping his toe into Spanish cinema - he speaks fluently - and even taking roles where he plays characters like "homeless guy" despite already having Hollywood's attention to some degree. Did he ever say no? Perhaps he slept just 3 hours a night the whole decade.

At any rate the career heated up once Demi Moore demanded he suck her dick. This unusual career move also worked wonders for Ashton Kutcher. (I kid. I kid. I couldn't resist)

GI Jane (97) | A Perfect Murder (98) | Psycho (98)

A Walk on the Moon (99) | 28 Days (00) | The Fellowship of the Ring (01)

The Two Towers (02) | The Return of the King (03) | Hidalgo (04)

A History of Violence (05) | Alatriste (06) | Eastern Promises (07)
we never got Alatriste in the US. (sigh)

Appaloosa (09) | Good (09) | The Road (09)

Viggo Mortensen quite obviously improves with age. One could say he's like a fine wine but he's more of a whiskey, don't you think? I do worry about all three of his 2009 efforts flopping. Will the lead roles keep on coming? Next up is his third go at being David Cronenberg's muse. Actors are always better off once an auteur suddenly can't live without them.

How many of these 27 movies have you seen? I've only seen half of them. Oops.
What do you first think of when you hear the name Viggo?
Tell all in the comments.


Anonymous said...

I think I've only seen 2 or 3 of those movies. I'm not even sure I saw the final LotR film! Too much walking across epic vistas for my taste, much like Tolkein himself.

BUT I have to answer your last question. The thing I think of first when I hear the name "Viggo" is that I am like the buzzing of flies to him.


the other thing that's easy to spot here is that the marketing departments don't care about his face until after LOTR is finished. then and only then is he "bankable"... although his phantom image does appear on the backgrounds of some of these posters

ferdi said...

I've only seen the two Cronenberg masterpieces, LOTR, Psycho, Portrait of a Lady and Carlito's Way (but I don't even remember which role played Viggo in this movie).

When I hear his name... I feel lost in lustful desire. I think of Aragorn, those hair, those eyes... And I think of that bloody bath scene in Eastern Promises. And I sweat and I want to be saved by him. Kissed by him. Even killed by him... And other wonderful thoughts.

Robert Hamer said...

Besides maybe Almodovar/Cruz, Viggo Mortensen and David Cronenberg are my favorite actor-director combo right now. They just seem to bring out the best in each other.

Jake D said...

His across-the-board snub for "The Road" is still far too fresh. So disappointing when the really good performances just don't catch on.

Bernardo said...

A little present for my favourite blogger ^^

Morgan Leigh Davies said...

I immediately think of Eastern Promises. God damn that's a good movie -- I just rewatched it recently and appreciated it so much more than the first couple of times. Naomi Watts is really excellent, too, although he (understandably) got all the attention.

Clarence said...

I finished Walk on the Moon in History class today (I do not understand the relevance of the film to our history class. My teacher said it was about Woodstock. Clearly, he doesn't know much about the movie if he thinks it's about Woodstock.) I must say, Viggo is really dreamy in that movie. He wasn't impressive though. He was just there looking pretty and charming--pretty much what the role required.

I haven't seen much of his filmography. I've seen like 5 of them (yes I counted all three of the Lord of the Rings movies as separate entities). He is dreamy though. Everyone in my class thought he looked really familiar. I had to remind them that he's Aragon. Then they go "oh yeah Him!"
I wouldn't blame them for their lack of knowledge about Viggo. TLOTR is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear Viggo Mortensen.

Zach said...

Any time some one says Viggo - no context - I immediately go to "Ghostbusters 2." Yes, it's sad... But then I'm on to "A History of Violence" and I feel much better.

Powerandcrinolines said...

Wow, A Walk on the Moon and An Education pretty much have the exact same poster.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

I've seen eight -- oops! When I hear Viggo, I think of History of Violence, and him busting noses. Funnily enough, I also think of that movie when I hear Maria Bello, although with her it involves staircases.

mrripley said...

I have seen 19 my god i'm a closet viggo fan!!!

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FrenchGirl said...

the first time i saw him was in "witness" then "the idian runner" and "young guns 2" but after i saw all his movies since "carlito's way"(DVD,TV or theater).He's enough popular/bankable in France.

Rebecka said...

I counted 15! Viggo is one of my favourite actors, and he's quite popular here in Scandinavia. It would be cool if he ever decided to do a movie in Denmark. Or in Sweden, you know, just to get him closer to me...

Anonymous said...

I've seen them all except Good (is that any good btw?), but you 're lacking the poster of my favorite, Philp Ridley's almost masterpiece "Reflecting Skin".

That's the first thing to come in mind when I hear/read his name.


Bernardo -- that's fun. thanks

Rebecka -- i'd love it if he'd do more international stuff too but i worry we won't get it. it's weird that alatriste is so hard to see.

Clarence -- i remember him being really good in that but maybe i was won over by the pretty

ferdi -- you crazy

Anonymous said...

Viggo's work in The Road was the most under-recognized performance of last year's awards season. Yes--even more so than Swinton in Julia. There, I said it. Don't hurt me!

Pedro said...

I think of the Ghostbusters II when I hear the name Vigo. Hehe.

adri said...

I've seen 12. Out of the early first 15 movies, I've only seen 2. I guess, the more Viggo, the better it is.

My favorite is "A History of Violence', but when I hear Viggo, I think of him as Aragorn. I love that LOTR poster sequence - first he's just one of the cast, then he's one of the leads, then he's the star.

I'm dubious as to whether becoming a favorite of an auteur is a good idea. Every partnering I can think of either ends in the the director/actor becoming complacent and doing the safe easy thing (Scorcese/DeNiro; Scorcese/DiCaprio), or they get sick of each other (Truffaut/Leaud: Scott/Crowe), or it kills the actor's career because no-one else will hire him - and there's jealousy (Peckinpah/Oates; Allen/Farrow). Or a combination of the above. Coming back to each other after a break of each doing something very different --- maybe.

Iggy said...

Dirty things. Dirty things come to my mind when I think about Viggo Mortensen. He speaks almost flawless Spanish, and he does so with a hot Argentinian accent (which is the Spanish speaking accent we find hot, at least on this side of the pond).

You aren't missing anything great if you haven't seen Alatriste. Other than seeing him performing in Spanish and seeing Blanca Portillo playing a man, the movie is a mess. It's based on several best-selling novels following the adventures of the title character and they weren't put together in a satisfying way. A decision I didn't understand at the time and still don't. If you have several successful books, adapt one at a time and maybe you'll get a franchise. If only the artistic results had been worthy.

As for distribution, there's even a stranger case, Manolete. A biopic about a famous bullfighter played by Adrien Brody who has an affair with Penélope Cruz's character. I guess it's in the line of Blood and Sand. It was shot in 2007 and not even Cruz's Oscar has prompted its domestic distribution.
(update: according to IMDB it opened a week ago, but I can't find it anywhere).

Glenn said...

Oh man, seeing that poster for Deception makes me give a little screech of excitment at the amount late 80s/early 90s erotic thrills on display. LOVE IT.

Also, Psycho. Amazing.

Deborah said...

I've seen...
Carlito's Way (he was in that?)
Albino Alligator
A Perfect Murder
A Walk on the Moon
All 3 LOTR movies
A History of Violence
Eastern Promises

I always thought of him as a sort of dirty, smudgy version of sexy. Probably I first noticed him in A Perfect Murder; the sleazy lover, kind of hot but kind of, really? you want to wash that first? And I thought the same in A Walk on the Moon; sexy and tender, but so unwashed compared to everyone around him. LOTR: FOTR didn't change that impression. He was definitely a guy in need of a bath.

Not that I haven't come around to a greater appreciation, but I think my first thought about Viggo will always be to hand him a washcloth.

Peggy Sue said...

Well, I have seen 19! Probably because my first think when I hear the name Viggo is pure steamy sex.

Must admit I don't remember almost anything of his early movies.

PS Alatriste was soo boring.


glenn -- thank you!

x -- yeah, there aren't many "new" poster designs this past decade. everyone regurgitates. except the artists online who do it for the art of it and or special commissions and are often way more brilliant than the expensive hollywood marketing people who think 'hey, i know. movie star floating heads!'

deborah -- funny.

judy holder said...

I didn't realize that POAL was about halfway into his career (at least in terms of projects) I always think of it as being at the beginning of his career, before he took on that "aged whiskey character" Jose memorably identifies. But that's probably the first thing I saw him in where I noticed "him" as such.

On the other hand, I have also seen Hidalgo. That's two hours of my life I'll never get back - what a mess.

E. Dodd said...

I have seen almost all of V.M.'s films. Still waiting for a few to come out in U.S. Also enjoy some of his music and books. I think he keeps trying to surprise us and maybe himself.

lcpatriot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Really? 25? I thought sure I'd seen him in over 40 films, and not all of those were foreign.

American Yakuza
Reflecting Skin
Passion of Darkly Noon
Vanishing Point
The Crew
Gospel According to Harry

well, a lot of his early stuff, like Salvation, was really obscure. But I think the only one I haven't seen is a short film not listed on IMDB but listed on starring some chick - his only romantic comedy.

Vikter said...

Viggo was so great in "The Road." He should have been nominated for it. It was the bungled distribution and early negative reviews that made people act like this film had the plague, and it didn't deserve that kind of treatment. I hope that the film has a second life on DVD and people give the film its proper due.

Urey said...

Love the guy, but some of those films are clunkers. It didn't seem like the heat really started on him until Aragorn surfaced, and then no looking back. But I'd love to see him have a big hit on his hands that he headlined. I don't recall the Cronenberg films making a whole lot of money. And then flop after flop last year was depressing. I hope this third time is the charm for him. It is funny how he wasn't really "discovered" until he was almost forty, and that's practically the death age for women in Hollywood. It's the same thing that happened to Jeremy Renner this year. The media acted like he didn't exist before "The Hurt Locker," and that's so far from the truth. Terrible double standard, but that's nothing new either. All the best to both of those guys.

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Patrick F said...

Late comment is late...

Of the movies listed here, I've seen 25. I've also seen several others not currently listed.

One of my life's goals is to see every movie he's done (he's my favorite actor by a long shot, and watching his work, even in movies that aren't that great, is a genuine pleasure.

Patrick F said...

By the way, you show more than 27 film posters. I counted 30.