On hearing a journalist I know will interview Viggo Mortensen in the month of his 60th birthday…

I had lunch with him (I think) actually on his 50th. It was in Rome, October 2008, and we met again at his very soigné hotel after the Rome film festival screening of Good (I think it had been in Toronto before) and before he did a (brilliant) sort of Guardian-lecture thing. (After which I flew home…) He was mortified about being so old! I was only 44…
My companion was very starstruck. By then, I wasn’t at all. I was just relieved the whole hellish thing (writing, shooting, editing) was OVER – after six years – and I was finally allowed to ‘celebrate’…
That morning, totally by chance, I’d run into an acquaintance who wrote for the Observer (and still does, but less frequently) – and who I’d once been left for by a gf. He was a bit pompous (if sexy…) and wrote a book of his thoughts which made a big splash (in the Observer, at least) – and probably sells for 1p + £2.80 p&p…
It was about 11am in the Pantheon, of all places, and he had his wife and daughter with him. His wife asked me what I was doing in Rome.
And I said – as if it was the most natural thing in the world: ‘I’m about to go and have lunch with Viggo Mortensen…’
Game, set, match!
I never saw the Observer journalist again…
But I did see Viggo. When my wife’s book was in proof, in the LFF of 2012 I took a copy of it to a screening-with-talk at the Rich Mix of Everybody Has A Plan, an Argentine thriller in which Viggo played twins. (I thought it was brilliant, the different way he played both characters, one good, one bad. The Tao of Viggo! Much better than Captain Fantastic… But CF got an Oscar nomination, and EHAP sank into the swamp…) After the show I queued up (which I HATED doing! Such was my love…) and mumbled something about the book and it not being by me but my wife etc etc.
He didn’t have a clue who I was! (After all we’d been through…!)
And later I saw he’d just abandoned all the presents he’d been given by complete strangers next to the stairs. I couldn’t bring myself to sort through them and find the proof copy (I’d done my duty…).
I suppose it always happens. Say he gets given 10 things at every screening, you’d just HAVE to leave them somewhere. Or alternatively live in a warehouse, not on a ranch in Idaho…
Come to think of it, I gave him something in Rome too, for his birthday. A piano CD by Mompou, an obscure Spanish composer who(m) Viggo didn’t know but – typically – could tell from his name was really Catalan… which I didn’t know…
I’d ask you to ‘remember’ me to him, but he’d probably wouldn’t remember…

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I had a stroke on July 26th, 2013. I was a screenwriter. Don’t do that anymore. But have found another way to write.

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