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Viggo Mortensen in G.I. Jane

Viggo Mortensen & Demi Moore in G.I. Jane

Release: 1997

Director: Ridley Scott
Writer(s): David Twohy, Danielle Alexandra (screenplay)
Based on: story by Danielle Alexandra
Producer: Roger Birnbaum, Demi Moore, Ridley Scott, Suzanne Todd

Runtime: 124 min

MCAA Rating: R for language and violent fight scenes

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G.I. Jane Cast and Crew

Viggo Mortensen: Master Chief John James 'Jack' Urgayle

Other leading roles:
Demi Moore: Lt. Jordan O'Neil
Anne Bancroft: Sen. Lillian DeHaven
Jason Beghe: Lt. Commander Royce Harper
Kevin Gage: Instructor Max Pyro
Scott Wilson: Captain Salem, C.O., Catalano Naval Base
Lucinda Jenney: Lt. Kathy Blondell

G.I. Jane Synopsis

Lt. O'Neil (Moore) has been recruited as the first female SEAL trainee through a series of backroom political maneuvers, and must prove her military staying power against formidable odds. Not the least of these is the tyrannical Master Chief Urgayle (Viggo Mortensen) whose job is to put the recruits through hell to ensure that those who finish the program are tough and well-prepared enough to succeed when they face real-world challenges.

G.I. Jane Brief Review

The movie has been both criticized as sexist trash and acclaimed as a feminist statement, which made me curious to watch it and judge for myself. You may want to do likewise but be forewarned that there are several minutes of brutal physical violence.

I found G.I. Jane to be painful and deeply moving, and like all good films it left me struggling with difficult questions. The performances of both Moore and Mortensen are excellent.

Master Chief Urgayle has been described as "sadistic" in several reviews, which I consider to be inaccurate. His brutal treatment of O'Neil in the POW camp simulation seems to be driven more by dedication to his job than by a lascivious desire to inflict pain. It should also be noted that O'Neil taunts him as though she is demanding that he push the limits; in this film it is finally the only way that she is able to win the respect of her team.

Whether this film's depiction of SEAL/CRT training is accurate, and whether such brutal training methods are necessary and/or morally justified, I will have to leave for another day or another reviewer. (See links to more reviews below.)

G.I. Jane Soundtrack

1. Goodbye, The Pretenders
2. Homecoming, The Pretenders
3. Mama Told Me (Not to Come), Three Dog Night
4. Feel Like Makin' Love, Bad Company
5. Dimples, John Lee Hooker
6. Two Wrongs Won't Make Things Right
7. Future Is a War, Auntie Christ
8. Conspiracy
9. Time to Reflect
10. Endurance

Note: the aria played while the trainees are trying to write the reasons they love the Navy (and stay awake) is "O mio babinno caro" from Puccini's opera Gianni Schicci. It is not on the soundtrack, but the opera is available from

If you are most interested in Trevor Jones' original score, see the track listing at SoundtrackNet.

G.I. Jane Articles & Interviews

Viggo, Vidi, ViciViggo, Vidi, Vici - Premiere magazine, February 1997
Interview with Viggo Mortensen focuses on his very different upcoming roles in The Portrait of a Lady and G.I. Jane (at the time, tentatively titled In Pursuit of Honor). "Surprisingly, Mortensen sees some parallels between the 19th-century romantic he plays in Portrait and the hardcase master chief in Honor. 'I think they're both gentlemen. By the end you get that—the chief has a real old-fashioned code of ethics.'"   []

No Pain, No JaneNo Pain, No Jane - Salon, August 22, 1997
An well-written review of G.I. Jane with some interesting perspectives. The reviewer seems to feel that the film is accurate with respect to military policies and training, though he does not approve of either: "Some months back, it was reported that SEALs were actually being subjected to some of the torture methods they might face if captured, a practice that raises questions about the trainers' ability to distinguish reality from maneuvers. Try to imagine that approach in other jobs -- say, if cops were shot at to see how they reacted under fire." Quite a few more points in the article.

The reviewer also has an unusual take on Mortensen's character. He seems to have confused the rank "Master Chief" with the chief's name, which is actually "John James Urgayle." Quote: "Her fellow recruits ... are certain she hasn't got what it takes, as is her predictably hard-ass drill instructor (Viggo Mortensen). What isn't predictable is that this character has been given a hilariously fetishistic name -- 'Master Chief' (didn't Texaco sell that?) -- and an even more fetishistic look. With his Village People mustache, reflector shades and tight little shorts, he's a Tom of Finland dream date." For those of you as clueless as I was, "Tom of Finland" was an illustrator known for his portraits of macho gay men.   []

In the NavyIn the Navy - Detour, September 1997
Viggo provides a thoughtful look at his role in G.I. Jane: "[The master chief is] a pretty isolated kind of character. He can't afford to let the people he's training know him very well or know what he's thinking. There's always a distance—you have to earn their respect, and also keep it by mentally being careful of how you deal with people." The interview also touches on Viggo's other films, his poetry, and what he wants from life.   []

Viggo MortensenViggo Mortensen - US Magazine #236, September 1997
  [Viggo-Works]   []

Vim and ViggoVim and Viggo - W magazine, September 1997
Brief, pithy interview with Viggo Mortensen about Urgayle's character in G.I. Jane. "He's not a sexist," Mortensen says. "He tortures everybody. He needs to know Demi's character can handle what she might run into in combat. And, yeah, we do come to blows in one scene, and yeah, it's kind of shocking." Viggo goes on to discuss his preparation for the role.   []

Jane Man: Viggo Mortensen - Neon, November 1997
Brief, focused article on Viggo's perception of his role as Master Chief Urgayle in G.I. Jane and his preparations for the filming. Excerpt: "Mortensen didn't want his character to be a full-on maniac. 'The easiest thing would have been to make him a woman-hater and a ball-busting head-stomper,' he affirms. Instead he suggested to Scott that 'poetry might be right for this guy.'"   []

- Berlingske Tidende, November 4, 1997

The Hot New 39-Year-Old - Movieline, August 1998
A fun interview in which Viggo shares stories from the filming of movies from Witness to A Walk on the Moon, and describes his drag queen screen test for To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.   [Viggo-Works]

The Fire That Fuels an Artist's HeartThe Fire That Fuels an Artist's Heart - Carpe Noctem #15, March 1999
Viggo comments on most of his pre-1999 movies, including Prison, Leatherface, Reflecting Skin, Indian Runner, Crimson Tide, The Prophecy, G.I. Jane, A Perfect Murder, Psycho, and the upcoming Walk on the Moon (tentatively titled The Blouse Man). He also discusses his art and upcoming showings. Finally, when asked, "In twenty years, would you rather be remembered as an actor who painted or a painter who acted?" he replies, ""I'd like to know that I was honest. I was myself as far as just being an artist and being an actor or poet or photographer or painter or whatever the hell. A pebble stacker, whatever the hell you end up doing, that's art. Being an artist is being an artist. So just be. If you only do acting, you're still an artist. I'd just like to know that I actually challenged myself."   []

G. I. Jane Fan Fiction

Command Master Chief John James Urgayle (Viggo Mortensen)"Autograph," by Dorothy Franklin - Humor. A short follow-on to "Rematch," in which Command Master Chief John James Urgayle seeks to give Lieutenant Jordan O'Neil a special gift. Rated G.
O'Neil shields Urgayle while under fire"On Hold," by Kay Linne - Drama with a touch of romance. Lieutenant Jordan O'Neil seeks out the injured Command Master Chief John James Urgayle to give him a piece of her mind. Takes place aboard the aircraft carrier, just after the rescue helicopters land with the extraction crew. Rated PG-13 for some coarse language.
Urgayle congratulates O'Neil on completing the SEAL/CRT training"Rematch," by Dorothy Franklin - Drama, Romance. Lieutenant Jordan O'Neil contacts Command Master Chief John James Urgayle two weeks after graduating from his SEAL/CRT training class, to ask his advice regarding her new assignment. They decide to explore a relationship but find it isn't easy given their history. Rated PG-13 for coarse language and mild sexual innuendo.
Viggo Fan Base"Round Two," by Mithril - Drama, Romance. Explores what might happen if Master Chief John James Urgayle and Lieutenant Jordan O'Neil were to reconnect a few years after the SEAL/CRT training. The author does a great job of exploring both the challenges and the possibilities for a relationship. In sixteen chapters. PG-13 except for one explicit scene. (Originally posted chapter by chapter in the Fan Fiction section of the now defunct Viggo Fan Base forum. Mithril, if you are reading this, I'd love to hear from you!)
G. I. Jane @ - Several stories based on G.I. Jane.
Viggo Mortensen in G.I. JaneMaster Chief Daily - If you are looking for more fan fiction featuring Master Chief Urgayle from G.I. Jane, consider joining this LiveJournal community. You'll find several stories posted and/or linked from their pages, with a wide variety of approaches. Most are rated R or NC-17.

G. I. Jane More Articles and Interviews

G.I. Jane: About The Production - Detailed article about the evolution of G.I. Jane includes interviews with the screenwriter, director Scott and key cast members, and describes the training the cast went through before filming.
Ridley Scott & Demi Moore filming G.I. JaneIn the Navy: Ridley Scott talks about G.I. Jane - Interview with the G.I. Jane director focuses on how the movie addresses issues of feminism and sexism. Excerpt: "I wanted to make her superior a kind of supreme advocate of what he does as a human being. I wanted to make him a real professional. Him walking into the shower was another test of her ability. If her natural inclination was to cover herself, in a way it would have been a weakness. It was a test." By Matthew Hays for the Montreal Mirror, Aug. 1997.
Interview: Hot Shot in Hollywood - Interview with Viggo focuses on G.I. Jane. The following is a small excerpt.

Viggo: "I have a great respect for that Ridley Scott chose not to put in a sex-scene. It would have been too cheap. A sex-scene would somehow signal that Demi gives in to my role. It is important that she doesn't."

From Berlingske Tidende, November 1, 1997. Translated from the original Danish by Majken Steen Thomassen.

G. I. Jane Other Resources

Viggo Mortensen in G.I. JaneExtended Version - LiveJournal member Pfyre captured images from an extended version of G.I. Jane that was shown on AMC in 2005. This page shows Master Chief Urgayle emerging from the ocean wearing what appears to be a shorty wetsuit, and glaring at O'Neil, who is watching from the beach. A subsequent page shows a scene where Urgayle is teaching at the firing range, wearing yellow safety goggles. Pfyre's journal has many more pages of captures; the above were the only scenes that we are certain were not in the released version of the film.
G. I. Jane Military Background Material - Solid references on issues related to women in combat, U.S. Navy SEAL Training, Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Training, and Fraternization. For those interested in learning more about these subjects or curious about the accuracy of G.I. Jane's portrayal of SEAL and SERE training.
Demi Moore as G.I. JaneG.I. Jane Movie Soundtrack - Press release for the original motion picture soundtrack album provides details about the music and the artists, who include the Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde, Tarnation, and Auntie Christ, the "uncompromisingly intense new band led by former X vocalist Exene Cervenkova, X drummer D.J. Bonebrake, and ex-Rancid bassist Matt Freeman." Also included are classics by John Lee Hooker, Bad Company, and Three Dog Night, and instrumental themes from the original score by Trevor Jones.
Kevin Gage as Max Pyro in G. I. JaneKevin Gage (Max Pyro) - Official site for Kevin Gage, who played Instructor Max Pyro in G. I. Jane, includes photographs and video clips from most of his films and television appearances, along with information about the actor's other work.
Master Chief Daily - Fans of Master Chief John James Urgayle post pictures of the chief in G.I. Jane and share favorite scenes, fantasies, other chat. High fun, irreverence and drool factors. G.I. Jane - Lists upcoming showtimes for G.I. Jane on US premium cable channels. Site also has a brief review and links to related websites.
MovieWeb logoMovieWeb: G.I. Jane - Eleven nice high-resolution still shots plus basic background information. Site includes movie discussion forum.
Original Script for G.I. Jane - The original script for G.I. Jane, which varies quite a bit from the film. Instead of the trumped-up Libya story at the end there is a mechanical failure leading to a rescue, and the political soup is seasoned a bit differently.

Master Chief Urgayle is described as: "His body is 30 years old, his face 40, his eyes 50. An ageless warrior. Somewhere, the blood of Ulysses runs in this guy's veins." G.I. Jane Sound Clips - A dozen good-quality WAV sound clips with quotes from G.I. Jane. One pop-up, not too nasty.
Demi Moore in G.I. JaneWikipedia: G.I. Jane - Summarizes the plot and provides links to information about the cast and director. Also provides trivia and notes information about Demi Moore's training for the role.

G. I. Jane Reviews

Not surprisingly, G.I. Jane has stirred up a lot of controversy. Is the movie sexist trash? A feminist statement? Sadistic exploitation? We've tried to collect the most interesting and well-written reviews from each perspective.

A few good masochists - Reviewer Dan Craft applauds the film's action and production values but identifies what he sees as a serious flaw: "What prevents 'G.I. Jane' from transcending its otherwise simplistic approach to the subject is the fact that Jordan O'Neil is given absolutely no interior life, no biographical background, no real context for allowing us to understand why she submits herself to the ordeal at hand.... And if we don't know why this woman is doing this -- beyond some unutterable code of proving one's mettle -- how can we possibly appreciate the physical purgatory she puts herself through?"
All Movie GuideAll Movie Guide: G.I. Jane - Although neither of the reviewers rank the film highly, Robert Firsching opines that "Viggo Mortensen is outstanding as Master Chief John James Urgayle, a steely-eyed, tough-as-nails instructor who somehow finds time to quote D.H. Lawrence when he isn't making people eat garbage and beating O'Neil senseless as part of a training exercise. Mortensen and the believably-buffed Moore are terrific, and their scenes of confrontation are the film's high points."
Anne Bancroft & Demi Moore in G.I. JaneCinema Review: G.I. Jane - In-depth critic's review, production notes, several photographs, data on viewer reactions. Critic Scott Renshaw is not impressed: "When G.I. JANE isn't monotonous or ridiculous (turning O'Neil's personal training into an excuse for sweaty T&A close-ups), it's just plain insulting."
Demi Moore in G.I. JaneDeep Focus: G.I. Jane - Reviewer Bryant Frazier gives G.I. Jane a mixed review, calling the film "a big, loud, and ferocious gender-bender that plays to the balcony seats." He likes the cinematography: "G.I. Jane is so stylized as to seem otherworldly, which is key to enveloping viewers in its unpleasant milieu without alienating them. Physical training has never seemed so bizarre -- Ridley's recruits do push-ups in the surf at the orders of an apparent madman while a helicopter hovers nearby, like some winged demon." About Viggo's character: "Most extraordinary is Mortensen, playing a frighteningly whacked-out Master Chief."
Farthest Outpost mascotDiscussion at Farthest Outpost - Interesting 5-page exchange about G.I. Jane at a forum for Viggo Mortensen fans presents a wide range of views, and opinions from trite to humorous to well thought out. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that they like the shorts.
Film Roar: G.I. Jane - Leopoldo at GeekRoar observes that "Viggo's job as Master Chief is to be as sadistic as he can to all the recruits, though he seems to reserve a special 'hard love' for Jordan [O'Neil]. Between applications of savage pain, Viggo lets escape the occasional twinkle in his eye as he gazes on her tank-topped and muscle-ripped body." He summarizes, "Contrived and weak as the plot seems, strong acting and decent writing makes G. I. Jane an interesting movie."
Viggo Mortensen as Master Chief Urgayle in G.I. JaneFilms of Viggo Mortensen: G.I. Jane - Scroll down below Crimson Tide for two extensive, original reviews of G.I. Jane plus excerpts from several others. The first review says that "Viggo Mortensen challenges the old cliche that no man is an island as the Master Chief Urgayle and poetry is but one tool he uses to bolster the illusion of control he carefully creates from the moment he first speaks to his trainees." The second summarizes: "This film was 'bad mouthed' at the time, but bollocks to that, it's a great movie; exciting, entertaining and experiential."
G.I. Jane posterG. I. Jane Reviews & Reflections - William P. Coleman's extensive review focuses primarily on what he sees as Ridley Scott's excellent direction and on the muddied plot lines: "If Ridley Scott had been perspicacious enough to entrust the editing of G.I. Jane to me there would have been a loss of about 15 minutes of footage, involving the deletion of several characters, including Senator DeHaven, the Secretaries of Defense and of the Navy, several admirals, and Jordan O'Neil's unfortunate boyfriend."

About the co-stars: "I had no opinion about Demi Moore going in, except that her previous films were ones that I was happy to avoid. In the show-but-don't-tell sense that I was talking about above, her performance is excellent, and essential to the success of the film. Viggo Mortensen is very strong as the only slightly less essential Chief Urgayle."

Coleman also discusses the D.H. Lawrence and Neruda references from the film.
G.I. Jane *** - Generally positive review by Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times. "Urgayle is an intriguing character, played by Mortensen to suggest depths and complications. In [one] scene he is discovered reading a novel by J.M. Coetzee, the dissident South African who is not on the Navy's recommended reading list, and in an early scene he quotes a famous poem by D.H. Lawrence, both for its imagery (of a bird's unattended death) and in order to freak out the trainees by suggesting a streak of subtle madness."
G.I. Jane Film Review by Steve Kong - Mixed review explores the directing techniques of Ridley Scott vs his brother Tony, and comments on the cast and production. "Most interesting in the film is Viggo Mortensen as the Master Chief. He gives a great performance, sometimes overshadowing Moore."
Anamorphic Widescreen 16x9 G.I. Jane DVD - Detailed review of the DVD extras for various regions, transfer quality and other technical issues. Also provides a generally favorable review of the film itself, beginning: "Directed by Ridley Scott, this is not your average run-of-the-mill military training school story, with a hard-as-nails instructor making every one's life hell, before the flawed and petulant hero finally comes through and saves everyone's lives. Well, ok so maybe that's exactly what it is...."
NetPad's Cinema Corner: G.I. Jane - Carol A. Jenkins provides a thoughtful review, focusing on the mental and emotional challenges faced by Lt. O'Neil and the other trainees. About Viggo's role she says, "The toughest battle for her lies in the person of Master Chief John Urgayle (played very well by Viggo Mortensen) whose job it is is to destroy and if they stay, then to build them back up. Urgayle doesn't believe women should be in combat, not because they are not capable but because it distracts the men, forcing them to be protective and therefore vulnerable to assault." She also enjoys the way that the movie explores the team-building that occurs within the group.
G.I. Jane: Lt. O'Neil and boyfriend RoyceOne Woman's War: Demi Moore in G.I. Jane - Sarah Kerr, writing for Slate, analyzes the sexual politics of G.I. Jane and focuses on Moore's performance: "Demi Moore is out in front on this one. She's given us a picture of a pioneer. But like women in combat, she's something we're not prepared to accept."

She provides an interesting description of Urgayle: "Command Master Chief John Urgayle (a charismatic, skeletally thin Viggo Mortensen), is a total sadist but also secretly wise, even somewhat mystical. (In his spare time, he reads D.H. Lawrence.) If O'Neil were a man, she would fight with Urgayle like a son with his father. But Urgayle isn't guiding O'Neil down a known path of hurdles into manhood. He just doesn't want her around."

Page includes sound and video clips of two scenes from the film.
Review: G.I. Jane - Is G.I. Jane a feminist movie? In this reviewer's opinion, "Navy Seal training [is] brutal and harsh and painful [and] there's no way Jordan could have gotten through it without acting [like a man]. We expect male Navy Seals to look like macho, physically powerful stoics for a reason; those reasons don't vanish just because a female joined the team.

"This is not disempowerment. This is a statement: women can in fact become whatever they want to become. The fact that Jordan's choices are of a nature that many might find repugnant shouldn't keep us from remembering that they were indeed her choices, and that is the feminist core of the movie."
Rob's Reviews: G.I. Jane - Curmudgeonly reviewer Rob Gonsalves finds something to dislike in most movies, but he particularly dislikes G.I. Jane, calling it a "rabid piece of militaristic pulp" and "an essay in eroticized brutality and masochism." The one thing he does like? "Viggo Mortensen, whose witty and sinister portrait of sadism is the movie's saving grace."
The Reel Deal Online: G.I. Jane - Although reviewer Jamie Peck finds flaws in the script, he considers the film to be "thought-provoking, bold." About Viggo: "Mortensen makes his mark by fleshing out a role that could have been the embodiment of evil chauvinism. The sequences he and Moore share -- especially a shockingly violent episode that comes late in O'Neil's training -- are among the movie's most riveting."

G. I. Jane Video Clips

These clips are suitable for a PG-13 audience. You will find a couple of uses of 4-letter words and some bleeding noses but nothing worse.

You are welcome to download them for your own use. You are welcome to link to this site or to this page but please DO NOT hotlink directly to the clips. If you post the clips on your web site, please link back to

Viggo Mortensen as Master Chief UrgayleGIJ-01: Introduction to Urgayle - This well-known clip introduces Master Chief Urgayle to the CRT (SEAL) trainees. He recites a D.H. Lawrence poem, Self-Pity, "I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself....", followed by the uncredited "The ebb and flow of the Atlantic tides, the drift of the continents, the very position of the sun along its ecliptic. These are just a few of the things I control in my world." (01'37, 1.5 MB)
Viggo Mortensen as Master Chief UrgayleGIJ-03: Pain is your friend - Urgayle exhorts the SEAL trainees, "Pain is your friend, your ally. It will tell you when you are seriously injured. It will keep you awake and angry, and remind you to finish the job and get the hell home. But you know the best thing about pain? ... It lets you know you're not dead yet!" (00'41, 936 KB)
Viggo Mortensen as Master Chief UrgayleGIJ-08: Team mate - Urgayle has caught Cortez sabotaging his teammate O'Neil. "Sergeant Cortez, however brief your stay with this command might be, there are two words you will learn to put together. Team. Mate." (00'32, 360 KB)
Viggo Mortensen as Master Chief UrgayleGIJ-09: When I want your opinion - O'Neil doesn't have much luck persuading Urgayle. "Lieutenant O'Neil, when I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." (00'45, 536 KB) Slow connection? Try this shortened version (00'10, 124 KB).
Viggo Mortensen as Master Chief UrgayleGIJ-12a: See the sea - Urgayle quotes from Neruda as the trainees fight to launch rafts in the surf: "When I see the sea once more, will the sea have seen or not seen me?" (00'09, 360 KB).
Viggo Mortensen as Master Chief UrgayleGIJ-17: Don't start something - After temporarily getting the upper hand in the POW simulation, O'Neil mocks the bleeding Urgayle, "don't you look pretty." To which the Master Chief responds, "Don't start something you can't finish." (00'07, 136 KB).
Viggo Mortensen as Master Chief UrgayleGIJ-20: She's not the problem - After the POW interrogation, Master Chief Urgayle and instructor Pyro debrief while Urgayle straightens his broken nose. Urgayle concludes, "She's not the problem. We are." (00'31, 492 KB).
Viggo Mortensen as Master Chief UrgayleGIJ-23: Good to see you too - Lt. O'Neil returns from a silly plot sideline and is greeted by a surly Urgayle. "I don't know what's been going on in the last 48 hours, and frankly I don't give a sh*t." She replies, "good to see you too, Master Chief." (This interplay has an interesting echo in the Hidalgo pre-race exchange between Sakr and Reynolds: "Good luck to you too.") (00'12, 156 KB).
Viggo Mortensen as Master Chief UrgayleGIJ-29: Helicopter evacuation - Composite of 3 short sequences during the helicopter evacuation, in which O'Neil administers morphine to Urgayle, sets up an IV, applies a field dressing and listens to him swear, "what a goat f*ck." (00'30, 584 KB). Also a higher-res version: (00'30, 2.1 MB)

G.I. Jane Photo Gallery

Click on an image to see a larger version. The little numbers tell you how big it will be (in pixels). Most of these I captured from the DVD. The two larger ones are official studio publicity shots.