A few days after our meeting, Mortensen called and left a message on voice mail. He had been thinking about what he’d said regarding immortality and he was concerned now that perhaps he had taken too vehement a position: “I know I said I wanted to live forever and I would never be bored, but the reality is, it’s probably kind of sad to live forever if you’re the only one sticking around. I guess living through injury and disease is pretty hard too, so I don’t know — maybe immortality is not such a great thing. You know, Freud accepted his lot very stoically and very well and with a sense of humor. He aged and died gracefully and there’s a lot to be said for that. Still, it would be nice to live a little longer, with your mind intact and your body reasonably functioning… .”
The message went on in similar vein, for a while. Toward the end, Mortensen seemed to become vaguely embarrassed by his own meandering. “Anyway, whatever,” he said. “I don’t know if any of this matters.” There was a long, crackly pause. “But I guess what I’m saying is, I’d settle for another 150 years.”
— Viggo Talks and Talks, The NYTimes T Style Magazine by Zoe Heller, Holiday 2011. Photo credit: Cass Bird.
He would laugh hysterically for, like, 30 seconds, and then it would go back into this weird German accent. There really wasn’t any purpose to it; he just delighted in these messages. That’s part of Viggo’s madness.
“I haven’t been given the chance to play men who speak much. The parts that people — including David [Cronenberg] — normally give me are men of few words, people who express what they’re thinking or what they’re afraid of or what their goals are, physically. With Freud, it was all words.”