Viggo Mortensen Makes it Just in Time to Receive Award
Photos: Fritz Olenberger
By edhat staff
A rainstorm and shut down Highway couldn't keep Viggo Mortensen away from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Saturday.
Mortensen was scheduled to receive the American Riviera Award at 3:00 p.m. and Highway 101 wasn't expected to reopen until later that evening. Glenn Close was also expected to receive the Maltin Master Award at 8:00 p.m., but she rescheduled to Sunday afternoon.
Edhat contributor, pilot, and owner of Santa Barbara Aviation, Max Rosenberg came to the rescue by flying Mortensen and longtime friend and actor Ed Harris into the Santa Barbara Airport with minutes to spare.
Upon taking the stage, Mortensen was greeted with a standing ovation and he immediately thanked the audience for their patience. He then sat down with Deadline awards columnist Pete Hammond to discuss his acting career and Oscar-nominated performance in "Green Book."
Mortensen described his "late" realization about wanting to be an actor in his early 20's. He recounted how he was cut out of films like Woody Allen’s “Purple Rose of Cairo” and Jonathan Demme’s “Swing Shift,” before he finally appeared in “Witness.”
“I was lucky that I did lots of small parts in plays, TV, movies, and many hundreds of auditions where you get close but you don’t get the part. But you’re practicing... you’re learning what is probably the two most important things I think for an actor, which is to be flexible -- to deal with all kinds of personalities and requirements and obstacles -- and to listen, to pay attention -- because the only way you’re going to be flexible really is well, what is coming my way now, I can’t do the same thing every time,” said Mortensen.
Before committing to a project Mortensen said he always looks at the script first, "Its story, the role, and then who is directing. If I don’t get past the first two then it doesn’t matter who is directing,” he said.
Perhaps his most well-known project was playing Aragorn in the "Lord of the Rings" series. Mortensen stated how he felt staring in the LOTR films opened the door for him to make other films like “A History of Violence” and “Appaloosa.”
He described a fun anecdote about how he broke his tooth while filming the “The Two Towers” and went into town dressed as his character to get his tooth fixed by Peter Jackson’s dentist.
His latest role in "Green Book" follows the true story of Tony Lip, a working-class Italian-American bouncer, who becomes the driver of Don Shirley, an African-American classical pianist, on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.
He remarked that one of the best results of the film has been that it has helped people discover/re-discover the music of Don Shirley. He also praised his costar Mahershala Ali in his portrayal of Shirley, stating the reasons that some scenes are so funny is because of how Ali reacts.
At the conclusion of the event, Mortensen's frequent collaborator and friend Ed Harris took the stage to present him with the American Riviera Award. The award was established to recognize actors who have made a significant contribution to American Cinema. Mortensen will join the list of previous recipients which includes Sam Rockwell, Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams.