Viggo Mortensen interview

Viggo Mortensen, star of Eastern Promises, talks to

Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen, star of Eastern Promises, talks to

Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen, 49, sheds his heroic image to play a ruthless Russian Mafia bodyguard who crosses paths with Naomi Watts' midwife in new thriller Eastern Promises.

Everyone is talking about Eastern Promises' centrepiece fight, where you are naked in a bathhouse. How awkward was it to film?

I knew I would be a little vulnerable and embarrassed. But in the end I wasn't any more than I should be for that sequence, because David [Cronenberg, the director] was respectful and has a limited amount of people on the set. So there wasn't a lot of sitting around. I had a towel on between takes and then when they would roll, I would take the towel off and go.

Like this character, you often play very physical men. But is there anything you can't do?

I'm not a very good dancer. Very sloppy!

How much has Lord of the Rings changed your life?

It's a lasting thing. It had a cultural impact everywhere. If I walk out on the street, there are kids that come up to me and I know they have that look in their eye and I know they're thinking about Aragorn. And that's nice. I don't mind that.

Have you been to any fan conventions?

I haven't been to any of those. The idea scares me of all those people dressed as elves. I saw a lot of that for a few years. I appreciate them, though, but it's a little bit crazy.

You're single right now. How difficult is it to fit relationships around your work?

Difficult. There is no guidebook. I definitely need to take some time off, just to attend to personal matters and family. I'm doing a lot of things on the fly now and it takes its toll.

Eastern Promises opens on 26 October

The leading destination for fashion, beauty, shopping and finger-on-the-pulse views on the latest issues. Marie Claire's travel content helps you delight in discovering new destinations around the globe, offering a unique – and sometimes unchartered – travel experience. From new hotel openings to the destinations tipped to take over our travel calendars, this iconic name has it covered.