In David Cronenberg's “A History of Violence,” he is Tom Stall, an upstanding family man who has somehow, somewhere learned to break a man as easily as he pours him a cup of coffee at his diner.
Called back from the reserves to star in Cronenberg's “Eastern Promises,” Mortensen is Nikolai the chauffeur, whose tattoos advertise a moderately successful, mid-level career in the Russian mafia while the wraparound shades mask surprising humanitarian impulses.
It has always helped that he looks like a Round Table knight; parts abound for the handsome hero-rescuer waving a literal or metaphorical sword.
In the business, he's that worldly poetic soul who can do credible justice to gangland Russian, Sioux, or Elvish dialects. That guy who never kills anyone who doesn't need killing.
But you won't hear Hitch saying ain't like the rest of them: He's a West Point man — though without a doubt, the black sheep of the family. He's also bagged the lead in the screen adaptation of Cormac Mc Carthy's “The Road,” which director John Hillcoat, a newcomer from Australia, starts shooting this fall. "Hopefully it won't totally depress people," he adds. Food in the belly, he stretches out on the ground as if on some psychiatrist's chaise, his wool cap tucked under his head, eyes annealed to some comfortable middle distance.
"Now we just have to find a great kid," Mortensen says, referring to his putative costar, the boy who will play his boy, as imagined by the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. He didn't know Mc Carthy actually lives in Santa Fe. Arms remain folded across the chest, but answers miraculously turn essay length.
On the set of “Eastern Promises,” Mortensen had wanted to wear Nikolai's shoes around, break them in so they'd look right. ‘The Undertaker’ and ‘The Soviet Bloc’Nikolai's charming nickname is "The Undertaker." Around the set, his squared-off Dracula pompadour acquired a nickname, too: "The Soviet Bloc." In shooting the now classic naked knife fight in a public bathhouse, Mortensen says he could only hope everyone would heed the exquisitely timed choreography.
Not for a moment did he fear for his groin, he insists.
The work is meticulously accomplished and high-production-value, a library of drawings, paintings, photographs, and music by those he's talent-scouted over the years, some strangers, some friends (and even an ex-girlfriend, Julian Schnabel's daughter Lola).
"I just think of myself at that age," says Mortensen, who wound up at St. Not that I couldn't; I just wasn't so interested." Though he was born in New York City, the Argentine soccer-fan scarf looped around his neck immediately flags Mortensen's affinity for the great elsewhere — his favorite team (somehow unsurprisingly) is San Lorenzo, by tradition Argentina's underdogs.
Lawrence University in upstate New York, a Spanish literature and government major. Before they divorced when he was 11, his American mother and Danish father trooped their three boys (Viggo's the eldest) through Argentina, Venezuela, and Denmark, where his father managed farms.
Some union characters finally smashed the thing open and fished the CD out and he tipped them mighty good, but he's still got an hour-and-a-half drive ahead of him back to Santa Fe in his Dodge pickup — that is, after he figures out just where and how we're going to while away the next few hours together.
He's seriously tired and in some kind of mood, and let's respect that, roll with it, because the hours he's keeping here in New Mexico have just been preposterous. wake-up calls he's grimly endured on the set of “Appaloosa.” And the locals hired to work Mortensen's cowboy picture (who plainly adore him) say they've never seen such a hard-partying cast and crew as the Appaloosans, and God only knows what happened last night, but there he goes again. This is his only day off and it kind of got shot and he didn't get to do some stuff he really wanted to do, and then, his obscure Argentine-concert CD got stuck in the player inside his trailer, because he's never not two-timing the movies with all the rest of his esoteric interests.