The saying in Hollywood was “Never discuss what roles you passed on or who you slept with.” That was the old rule. The new rule is “anything goes.” I’ve been reading some new interviews with Viggo Mortensen and it doesn’t sound like he has anymore sh-ts to give. I was trying to think: how would I treat these quotes if they came from a woman rather than a man? The answer, I suppose, is that I would say that she sounds sort of unprofessional and bitchy. So I’ll say that about Viggo. Now, is he in fact unprofessional and bitchy? Or is he just answering questions honestly, with his genuine opinions? You be the judge. First, Viggo goes off on Peter Jackson in The Telegraph – you can read the full piece here (the interviewer says Viggo is only 5’10”!!), and here are some bitchy quotes:
The Lord of the Rings trilogy shoot was chaos: “Anybody who says they knew it was going to be the success it was, I don’t think it’s really true. They didn’t have an inkling until they showed 20 minutes in Cannes, in May of 2001. They were in a lot of trouble, and Peter had spent a lot. Officially, he could say that he was finished in December 2000 – he’d shot all three films in the trilogy – but really the second and third ones were a mess. It was very sloppy – it just wasn’t done at all. It needed massive reshoots, which we did, year after year. But he would have never been given the extra money to do those if the first one hadn’t been a huge success. The second and third ones would have been straight to video.”
He thinks The Fellowship of the Ring is the best: “It was very confusing, we were going at such a pace, and they had so many units shooting, it was really insane. But it’s true that the first script was better organised. Also, Peter was always a geek in terms of technology but, once he had the means to do it, and the evolution of the technology really took off, he never looked back. In the first movie, yes, there’s Rivendell, and Mordor, but there’s sort of an organic quality to it, actors acting with each other, and real landscapes; it’s grittier. The second movie already started ballooning, for my taste, and then by the third one, there were a lot of special effects. It was grandiose, and all that, but whatever was subtle, in the first movie, gradually got lost in the second and third. Now with The Hobbit, one and two, it’s like that to the power of 10.”
He thinks Peter Jackson uses too much CGI: “I guess Peter became like Ridley Scott – this one-man industry now, with all these people depending on him. But you can make a choice, I think. I asked Ridley when I worked with him (on 1997’s GI Jane), ‘Why don’t you do another film like The Duellists [Scott’s 1977 debut]?’ And Peter, I was sure he would do another intimately scaled film like Heavenly Creatures, maybe with this project about New Zealanders in the First World War he wanted to make. But then he did King Kong. And then he did The Lovely Bones – and I thought that would be his smaller movie. But the problem is, he did it on a $90 million budget. That should have been a $15 million movie. The special effects thing, the genie, was out of the bottle, and it has him. And he’s happy, I think…”
I’ve never had a dog in this fight. I didn’t care one little bit about the LOTR trilogy, and I tend to agree with Viggo that “a Peter Jackson production” has become synonymous with “bloated-budgets, CGI hackery.” But that’s me. It’s quite different for Viggo to say it about the director who cast him in perhaps his most famous role. Is it rude? Unprofessional? Or just truthy?
Viggo also inadvertently slammed The Talented Mr. Ripley when comparing it to his film, The Two Faces of January: “Our movie is less gaudy. It’s more of a Highsmith movie. 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.” Er… but, Mr. Ripley was a beautiful film?! WTH?
And in another interview, Viggo says that he was offered and turned down “two parts” in Man of Steel – I’m guessing the parts that went to Kevin Costner and Michael Shannon? He does say that he would like to do a part in a superhero movie at some point though. Maybe they should get him to play the Batfleck.
Photos courtesy of WENN, Fame/Flynet.