Viggo Mortensen Doesn't Usually Allow Himself to Be Pampered, But He Made an Exception on His Birthday

Viggo Mortensen is a serious man. He prefers his birthdays pass unremarked — except one year, when he welcomed breakfast in bed and a bit of pampering. Here, the 'Captain Fantastic' actor discusses this, his most memorable birthday, and how he fell into acting after consulting the Yellow Pages.

Released on 1/25/2017

Transcript

00:03
I call the tree, Viggo, that I planted.
00:05
It's big, it's an oak.
00:07
Theatre workshop was the first thing I auditioned for.
00:11
It had no experience in theater or movies or anything.
00:14
When I was 22, 23, pretty late for an actor,
00:16
and I wondered what the trick was.
00:18
How is it that they can make you feel things?
00:21
Visceral, how is it that you walk out of the movie theater
00:24
and you're shocked that you're walking
00:25
down the street in Manhattan
00:27
and you're not in the Sahara desert or something.
00:28
I just wondered how it was done, so I thought,
00:30
well I'm going to try it out for being an actor.
00:33
So, I looked in the yellow pages in a Manhattan phone book,
00:36
and I saw something that said Actor's Repertory Theater.
00:39
I called up, and I said, what are you guys doing?
00:41
What's the play?
00:42
And they said, there is no play,
00:44
but you can come back and you can go to class.
00:46
That's how I started.
00:48
I like storytelling and the movies,
00:49
that's my main attraction to work in the movies.
00:53
I'm looking for stories that
00:55
I want to see in the movie theater.
00:57
Even if I don't end up being in them.
00:59
If I've read Captain Fantastic and for whatever reason
01:01
not been available or not really wanted to play the role,
01:05
I still would have been anxious to see the movie.
01:09
There's a few that I particularly admired at that point
01:13
where I made that transition from just being a member
01:16
of the audience to being a member of the audience who
01:19
wondered what the trick was and how it was done.
01:21
I guess female roles, mostly.
01:23
Meryl Streep's work in the Deer Hunter
01:26
and then Sophie's Choice.
01:27
Autumn Sonata, Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann,
01:30
as mother and daughter,
01:32
just their acting there was something so raw.
01:35
There's a lot of bad actresses out there,
01:38
just like there's a lot of bad actors,
01:39
but I think women tend to be able to act.
01:42
I think life teaches them to be better at it.
01:45
I think women and life, historically, have had to act
01:50
out of self protection in a world of men.
01:53
They have to be very resourceful
01:55
and they have to play roles.
01:56
Not in a submissive way,
01:58
but play vulnerable or needing help.
02:01
I'm talking about historically,
02:03
just to function and get ahead and get what they want.
02:07
Traditionally, that's changed a lot.
02:09
I'll get hammered for saying that.
02:11
I'm not saying all women and men
02:14
who maybe have a feminine side or more sensitive side.
02:17
I'm thinking even great actors like Marlon Brando.
02:20
For as masculine as he was, definitely had a feminine side
02:24
that came out in most of his roles, I think.
02:28
Even in a role like Last Tango In Paris,
02:30
in which he's this man who's seducing this young woman
02:37
and says these macho things and does these sort of bullish,
02:42
sexually-aggressive behavior,
02:45
but there's something about, well obviously,
02:47
emotionally that character has a very strong feminine side.
02:51
He just had that quality.
02:53
Another actor, Ian Montgomery Clift.
02:55
I think the best actor's have that.
02:57
Christopher Walken, extraterrestrial.
03:00
(laughter)
03:01
Feminine side, I don't know.
03:03
As an actor you are going to do better if you don't go
03:06
through life with a hand tied behind your back on any level.
03:10
My own birthday?
03:11
My birthdays are often, I'm often working
03:13
and I'm very pleased if no one remembers.
03:16
Some people are the opposite,
03:18
they're crushed if nobody remembers.
03:20
It's not that I dislike them,
03:21
but I like it to be my own sort of day of reflection,
03:24
and I'm happy to go through the day and no one remembers.
03:26
That's okay.
03:27
My last birthday I was pampered in a way
03:30
that I'm not accustomed to.
03:32
I got to sleep in very late.
03:34
I was given breakfast in bed.
03:37
I actually allowed myself to be pampered,
03:40
which is not something I am that comfortable with,
03:41
usually I like to just take care of my own things myself.