(This was written as a reply to Lizzie Francke-Daniels’s posting of a photo of Viggo with his pet pony)
Viggo had that pony with him on the set of good. He got to know him on hidalgo.
pépé was so good. he was a human in pony form. i can see why viggo loved him so much. he was a fanatical san lorenzo supporter and an addict for that argentinian tea viggo drinks all the time, mate. that and very pure dark chocolate.
pepe came everywhere with viggo. even to the auschwitz set. when viggo put his ss uniform on, pépé knew something was wrong. he whinnied constantly in his rough, raspy voice. even when all the jews were howling during the takes (that was the time when the robin hood set sent over word: a bit less howling, please! those were the days…)… you could tell there was a pony in there. a pony at auschwitz!
viggo – in character – fought for it: what worse sign of human stupidity could one ask for? he had final cut too. but with time for 1 take left before sunset, he agreed – under horrendous pressure – to have the pony sedated. the take – all 4 minutes of it, in and out of the blockhouses – worked. i turned to my companion – a sky news newsreader who was only there because her husband arranged the mahler tune they used so brilliantly for the concentration camp band to play, and who was recently on tv round the clock giving updates for the late queen (she has short, blonde hair, looks a bit like charlize theron if you close your eyes 😉 ) – i turned to her, tears in my eyes, and embraced her…
and the awful thing was, the pony died of complications from the sedation. he had a pet passport which prohibited use of codeine, but in the confusion he had left it at the hotel, which was up in arms about having to put up a pony in the same bed as the star! only viggo’s smile calmed the whole furore down…
so with viggo in character, between the 7th and 8th takes, the sun racing towards the horizon, someone gave pépé codeine… and the rest was history.
viggo was barely present for the last day’s shooting. and then he went straight to the set of appaloosa in arizona, which happily for him was full of horses. and where he’d also arranged to meet his human partner, ariadna gil, with whom he’s been happy ever since. so maybe pépé’s demise was a good thing?
(but that ‘no animals were harmed in that shoot’ credit on good? hmmmm) 😉
(with apologies to simon gray)