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Viggo Mortensen interview explaining his secret life off the grid
Mortensen – he likes the wilderness
Actor Viggo Mortensen recalls his favourite filming locations are “the outdoors and natural landscapes, so there are places in New Zealand, particularly the South Island that I really enjoyed and have gone back to. I’ve revisited remote places in the deserts and mountains of Argentina and North Africa. I look forward to going back to Russia to where Eastern Promises was shot, at the border between Siberia and the Ural Mountain region. I also enjoyed shooting in some very remote areas in the west of North America. I recently finished a movie called Captain Fantastic, where I play the father of six kids and we live in a big tent in a completely off-the-grid pine forest. These are places that I’m familiar with because I used to live in that part of the country, literally in the middle of a national forest for some time.”

How often do you travel? Nearly every two or three days I’ve been on a plane going somewhere this year, to Paris, Berlin, London, Argentina, Canada, and America. But I never lose the inspiration to travel because places always change. A place you think you know very well, including where you were born, is not the same place you were born in, it always changes.

Filming in Denmark and Argentina for Mortensen’s latest film ‘Jauja,’reminded him of his childhood in Argentina
“It wasn’t very different from my memories of it when I was there for the film. The streets, the sounds, the people, the way they speak, the food – everything was very familiar. But we were shooting in wild places far removed from urban landscapes, places nearly untouched by humans, with no roads, phones or internet. In Denmark, we shot in the south of the island of Zealand – the island Copenhagen is on. Anytime I go to Denmark I feel at home. I find the more one travels, the more places one can call home and the better you’ll get along with people and also yourself. Travel is probably the greatest anti-war weapon that exists – seeing things first hand, not through the internet, being in direct contact with different cultures, languages, smells and landscapes – different ways of looking at life can only be a positive thing.”

“During the filming of Lord of The Rings, the Department of Conservation allowed us special access into remote areas that most New Zealanders only knew from photos. We got to live and work in there and it was wonderful.

For a perfect holiday Mortensen leaves “my phone and computer behind. Because everything you need is going to be wherever you go. You’re going there to find out about other things so why bring things from the place you’ve just come from? Worst ever travelling experience? Sometimes things that are really disturbing or inconvenient are what make a trip memorable. I remember my dad taking us camping in Argentina and the car breaking down on a dirt track in Patagonia; we had to wait a day before somebody drove by to take us somewhere to get the car parts. In October, I got caught in a snowstorm in Lapland. I lost the trail and had to find some place to hide. I was out there on my own for a couple of days. I was worried but managed to find shelter and make a fire. It’s really not about where you are, but how you are. I can get annoyed or say, “OK, this is where I am. I don’t have any choice at the moment. Let’s make the most of it.”

“No matter where I’m going or how long I’m going for, including shoots that last months, if I can possibly avoid checking any bags, I do. I try to only do carry on and anything I need I can find a way to get where I’m going.

Jauja, starring Viggo Mortensen, is out now.

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

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