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Viggo Mortensen Political Views and Activism
Viggo Mortensen earned degrees in Government and Spanish at St. Lawrence University. He is multi-lingual and widely traveled, and has a broad world view. Mortensen's appearance on the Charlie Rose show in December of 2002, in which he wore a "No More Blood for Oil" T-shirt and spoke openly of his opposition to the move toward war in Iraq, brought his views to the attention of the public. He has continued to speak out regularly against the war and other Bush administration policies.
I will not pretend to neutrality here; I share most of Mortensen's views on the war in Iraq and his concerns about the motivations of Bush and the current administration. Time is precious so with few exceptions I am presenting those articles and quotes that present his opinions and/or support them. If you are looking for sites presenting the other side, a Google search for "Viggo Charlie Rose" will lead you to plenty of them.
Viggo Mortensen & Dennis Kucinich
Viggo Mortensen endorsed Dennis Kucinich in New Hampshire in January, 2008, and campaigned for him. In this video, Mortensen explains why he is supporting Kucinich and details his beliefs:
On January 6, 2008, Viggo Mortensen appeared on Fox's "Hannity and Colmes" show with Dennis Kucinich. Here is the video:
Political Articles & Interviews
I used to read 'Martin Fierro' as a child - Revista Noticias #1310, February 2, 2002
An Interview with Viggo Mortensen - January 12, 2003
The fellowship vs. the empire - The Japan Times, February 19, 2003
The man who would be king - Salon, October 24, 2003
Viggo Mortensen Joins Anti-War Protest in Washington D.C. - Ringbearer.org, October 26, 2003
A year in the life of Viggo Mortensen - Studio, December 2003
Jeffrey Overstreet's Interview with Viggo Mortensen - Looking Closer, December 5, 2003
Lord of the Rings Star is King of the Warriors - Newsday, December 14, 2003
Actors' politics pollute 'Ring' - USA Today, January 11, 2004
What Was Medved Thinking? - Hollywood Jesus, February 14, 2004
"Life's Too Short to Do All This Work and Not Do It Right" - Morphizm.com, April 6, 2004
Impeach, Remove, Jail - Perceval Press, September 1, 2005
Viggo Mortensen Interview - The Progressive, November 2005
Charlie Rose Show, December 2002
SLANT - The Two Towers: Resistance and Conscience - Laura McCullough comments at length on Viggo Mortensen's statements on the Charlie Rose show. An excerpt: "Strider, the brooding, private ranger, reluctantly accepts his role as a leader and is revealed as heir to a tarnished kingship.... Similarly, Mr. Mortensen seemed equivocal at first, in keeping with his reputation as an artist and poet, yet he grew into his criticism of the repressive Bush Doctrine both home and abroad...."
Wood's Comments on the Charlie Rose Show - In this December 2002 interview with Cinescape, Elijah Wood is asked about the antiwar statements Viggo made in their recent appearance on the Charlie Rose show. He replied at length, including the statement, "I am very proud of Viggo for saying what he said." Article is also interesting for Elijah's perspective on the Two Towers film.
Twilight of Empire
Twilight of Empire: Book Review - Two reviews of Twilight of Empire, and a link to reader comments.
Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation - A collection of essays, news articles, first-person accounts and photographs on the Iraq conflict, published by Mortensen's Perceval Press and featuring his poem, "Back to Babylon."
From the Perceval description: "Now that the Bush administration's occupation of Iraq has become more about enforcing the economic and political objectives of a corporate elite and less about disarming a dictator that used to be an American ally and had nothing to do with the tragedies of 9/11, a spirited and informed analysis is needed more than ever. Twilight of Empire fulfills that growing hunger for desperately needed on-the-ground truth and context far from the talking-head misinformation offered by conventional media outlets."
Softcover, 9.5 x 6.5 inches, 128 pages, $14.95
Video Clips: Charlie Rose Show
Charlie Rose Show, December 3, 2002 «2-Oct-05» - Viggo Mortensen, Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood were guests on the PBS talk show, Charlie Rose, to discuss their upcoming movie The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Viggo wore a T-shirt emblazoned with "No More Blood On Oil" which provoked a dialogue on current events. The first video and audio links below include the political discussion but not the discussion of The Two Towers. The third (created by Dina for OBM & War of the Ring) is a 2-part clip of the entire show.
Purchase from Charlie Rose Shop: DVD/VHS (60'00)
Political discussion only: Quicktime video 320x240 (08'28, 15.19MB)
Political discussion only: MP3 audio (08'31, 1.9MB)
Full interview (in 2 parts): Quicktime video 240x180 (34'57, 50MB)
Charlie Rose Show, September 23, 2005 «2-Oct-05» - Click the above link for compact Quicktime and WMV video clips of the political discussion between Viggo Mortensen and Charlie Rose on the Charlie Rose Show, September 23, 2005. A few quotes. "I think if [the people of Iraq] are left to take care of their own affairs, I think they'll do better in the long run." When asked if he thought the United States should pull out right now, he answered, "Absolutely. I support our troops, and the best way to support them is to bring them home immediately. This is the wrong place to be." Speaking of Bush: "Fiscal responsibility. Moral values. Fiscal responsibility. All of the planks of his political platforms have proved to be rotten and unstable."
In a broader sense, he comments, "In some sense, there is no such thing as 'national security' any more than there is 'individual security.' You have to keep working on it." Discussion goes on to cover Perceval Press and the roots of Viggo's activism.
If you are looking for the full interview, including discussion of A History of Violence, thank the awesome splatnext for the (LARGE) full-length download below.
Political discussion only: Quicktime video 240x180 (11'47, 4.48MB)
Political discussion only: WMV video 160x120 (11'48, 6.96MB)
Full interview: WMV video 320x240 (26'03, 46.82MB)
Video Clips: Viggo Political Interviews
Stephanie Miller Radio Interview 13 Sept 2005 «13-Oct-05» - Los Angeles radio talk show host Stephanie Miller conducts a call-in interview with Viggo Mortensen, in which he talks about Bush administration policies and his call for impeachment. She also teases him about being "hot."
MP3 audio (03'52, 1.32MB)
Viggo Mortensen at Anti-War Protest, October 2003 «2-Oct-05» - Viggo Mortensen spoke at a Washington D.C. protest of the war and occupation of Iraq, 25 October 2003. Viggo read his poem "Back To Babylon" at the rally and dedicated it to the people of Afghanistan, Iraq and the US. Photos and more details. Thanks to JoannaP for sending us this archived clip of his speech. The MP3 is an interview by a reporter at the event.
Quotes from Viggo on Politics and Activism
"I do find that in this country you have to make a big effort to be well-informed. There is no real news anymore. The war in Iraq was not unlike a studio movie. There was a certain schedule. There was a budget. There were the appropriate visuals. There was a lot of comparing the good guys with the bad guys. The administration used nomenclature reminiscent of the '30s; it's like they're studying the German technique of subverting attention in a time of national crisis. The erasure of memory is more prevalent than ever. It is easier to sell people the same load of shit tomorrow if they forgot they bought it today."As quoted by Allison Glock, GQ, "Twenty-one Reasons to Dig Viggo Mortensen"
"I won't say it's cowardly to leave the country, but there's something about staying here and saying what I have to say. I'm a citizen. I don't want to be outside taking potshots."As quoted by Allison Glock, GQ, "Twenty-one Reasons to Dig Viggo Mortensen"
"I like to resolve things. I like to feel everyone's gotten a fair chance. I can be judgmental about what I perceive as cruelty - someone who puts themselves before the good of the group - and I think that is a real danger that is... evil, self-interest at the cost of the group. In our story, the Ring has been compared to many things - for example, nuclear weapons. Ultimate evil. And I think in our country today, the Ring is more akin to the rash of ever-expanding legislature and, uh, programmes, concepts, pacts with ominous names like 'homeland security'- those are intimidating, grand names for things that essentially have to do with controlling people's wills and people's behaviour from a distance."Interview by Ariel Leve, The Sunday Times, "The Brain Dane"
November 30, 2003
"I think we're in a very dark period. At what point do you admit it was a mistake and get the hell out of there? How much damage has to be done? How much damage has to be done to the credibility of the United States? This is a disturbing time, and you don't have to be of any political persuasion to be disturbed or troubled by it. I think we're in a time of deliberate cruelty and deliberate lying, and, frankly, I think it's the very bottom of humanity."As quoted by Alex Kuczynski in Vanity Fair, "Finding Viggo"
"I mean, movies are entertainment. [The Lord of the Rings] is a story. It bothered me how some people misapplied the story to the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. It's like the way Hitler misapplied Norse mythology and literature to validate the Third Reich."As quoted by Alex Kuczynski in Vanity Fair, "Finding Viggo"
While filming Hidalgo in Morocco, Oct 2002: "It was obvious to everybody there that the Iraq invasion was a movie that was greenlit. It was going to happen in spite of the charade.As quoted by Jim Slotek, Toronto Sun, "Cash isn't king: Viggo just wants a good script"
February 3, 2004