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LatinoBuzz: Viggo Mortensen On Playing Twins, His Love of Argentina, and Soccer

LatinoBuzz: Viggo Mortensen On Playing Twins, His Love of Argentina, and Soccer

Viggo Mortensen, best known for his roles in Eastern Promises and The Lord of the Rings, is a huge soccer
fan. He almost got
out of an airport once after loudly celebrating a goal by his favorite
Argentinian club team, San Lorenzo. Coincidentally, it’s his love of soccer
that brought him to his newest role—playing twins in the Argentinian thriller Everybody
Has A Plan

First time writer-director Ana Piterbarg was taking her son to swimming lessons at the San
Lorenzo sports club in Buenos Aires when she ran into Mortensen. She introduced
herself and told him about a screenplay she was writing about two twins who
were estranged and that took place in the Tigre Delta, a maze of islands not
far from Buenos Aires. Mortensen, intrigued, asked her to send him the script.
It was the story he had been waiting for. Finally, he could return to the
country of his childhood and shoot a film. (Mortensen grew up in Argentina,
living there until he was eleven.)

It’s a moody noir film. After the death of his twin brother
Augustín (Mortensen) travels back to the islands where he grew up. He hasn’t
been back in years. Augustín is trying to escape his frustrating, boring
existence as a well-off straight-laced doctor living in Buenos Aires. He
decides to take on his brother’s identity, he pretends to be Pedro. As he rides
in a boat along the misty, cold river towards his brother’s rickety log cabin
he has a run in with some locals. He gets roughed up, gets called a liar, and
is told that people are looking for him. Slowly he begins to realize that his
brother was wrapped up in something very dangerous but he isn’t quite sure what
it is.

LatinoBuzz sat down with Mortensen to talk about the
challenges of playing identical twins, his love of Argentina, and what it’s
like to support the same soccer team as the pope.

LatinoBuzz: Your family is
American, Canadian, and Danish and you were born in New York but grew up in
Argentina. What drew your family to South America?

Mortensen: My dad got
work down there, working in agriculture, managing farms so we moved when I was
an infant and lived there until I was eleven. The first decade of your life is
really important, it’s formative. I never lost the feeling for the country, for
Argentina and for the language spoken there. I still have that inside me. This
is the fourth movie I have shot in Spanish but it’s the first time in
Argentina, all the other movies were shot in Spain. I’ve always wanted to make
a film in Argentina. I had been looking for the right story, something
challenging and interesting. Argentina has a long tradition of producing good
movies and producing really good actors and directors. I always hoped I could
become part of Argentine film history and with this movie now I am.

LatinoBuzz: Do you identify
as Latino, Latin American, or Argentinian? Do you use these terms to describe

Mortensen: I’m not a
big fan of pigeonholing people or labeling people. I just don’t look at things
that way but I do feel comfortable in the country. It’s like going home when I
go there, every time I go to Argentina. But I also feel that way in other
countries like in Denmark where my family is from, where I have spent a lot of
time. I guess it’s also part of moving around a lot, being around a lot of
different cultures. I have a multicultural background so I tend to have an open
mind about things and I find other cultures interesting. I really enjoy my job
and part of my job is looking at the world in a way that is different from my

LatinoBuzz: What was the
process of preparing to play twins like? How is it different from preparing for
just one role?

Mortensen: With any
character I have played there’s infinite possibilities for how they might
behave, depending on who they are talking to or how they react to things. My
major concern was how to make two twins who look very similar, in this case
identical twins, seem like two distinct people. Often times in other movies
when a person is playing twins or playing multiple characters or like Eddie
Murphy who sometimes will play the whole cast, sometimes it doesn’t work very
well. It seems like a stunt. It’s a push-pull thing. I looked for differences
in them, body language, their way of speaking, their posture, their point of
view. And I looked for what they have in common. They are two brothers with not
much love between them but they have a common memory, they grew up together.

LatinoBuzz: The movie was
shot on the islands of the Tigre Delta. What was it like to shoot there? Had
you been there before?

Mortensen:  I had been there when I was a kid and I
enjoyed it. But shooting a movie there, it was technically challenging. It was
very cold, it was during the winter. And we had to transport everything by
boat, the cast, the crew, the equipment. We had to deal with tide changes, it
was tough. But, it ended up being a good idea to shoot in the winter. It really
accentuated things, the mood of the story. And the landscape ended up playing
an important part.

LatinoBuzz: Alright, one
last question. Since you grew up in Argentina you must be a soccer fan. What’s
your favorite team?

Mortensen: San
Lorenzo, a club team in Argentina.

LatinoBuzz: Oh, like the

Mortensen: Yeah,
having the pope support the team is a big help. Everyone outside of Argentina,
they know about Boca Juniors, they know about Messi and what a great player he
is but they don’t always realize where San Lorenzo is from or even know about
the team. So, I have always tried to talk about the team. I even give away lots
of team jerseys. But now with the pope, he’s a lifelong unabashed supporter
like I am, he’s taken a big load off my shoulders (laughs).

LatinoBuzz: And now you have
God on your side!

Mortensen: (laughs)
But the flipside of that is if we can’t win now, we’ll never win. San Lorenzo
is kind of like the New York Mets. Once in while we have a great run but most
of the time we’re just hanging in there. The last time we were champions in the
league was 2007 but it doesn’t happen very often. So, when it does it makes it
even more sweet.

Todos tenemos un plan (Everybody
Has a Plan) opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, March 22.

Written by Juan Caceres and Vanessa Erazo,
LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on
SydneysBuzz that highlights
Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific
objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow
@LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook.

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