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Though he may be skeptical of awards, Oscar-nominee Viggo Mortensen was honored with a career tribute at the Marrakech film festival on Sunday evening.
After presenting his latest film, Far From Men, which was shot in Morocco this time last year and premiered at Venice, to an audience in the open air square Place Jemaa El Fna, an emotional Mortensen accepted the honor from actress and juror Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds). She praised the actor for his acting, musical and artistic talent.
To the delight of the crowd, the polyglot Mortensen thanked the crowd in both Arabic and French, before being joined onstage by his Far From Men co-star Reda Kateb and director David Oelhoffen.
Earlier in the day the actor said that the story of an unlikely friendship between his and Kateb’s characters, though set in neighboring Algeria, was shot in Morocco due to “bureaucratic” reasons, and that the cast and crew strived for authenticity by working with a coach to keep dialogue and accents authentic.
He also compared the experience of filming in Morocco to that of his other recent film Jauja, which he shot in Patagonia. “They were relatively small crews and it was done as a family, and in both cases the director set an example of communicating clearly and being harmonious,” he said.
The actor said his collaborations with director David Cronenberg — their Eastern Promises resulted in Mortensen’s only Oscar nomination — have taught him his most important lesson in filmmaking: “Less is more.”
“[He] has helped me do really good work, better than other directors. Maybe because he understands my process and because we have some things in common in terms of our sensibility — the kinds of books we like to read, our sense of humor is similar.”
He praised their 2005 film A History of Violence. “If not the best, it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever been in. There’s no such thing as a perfect movie, but in the way that that script was handled, the way it was shot … it’s a perfect film noir movie, or it’s close to perfect I should say.”
And about that Oscar nomination? “I don’t think awards make you better; they don’t really have any effect. They can have a negative effect on your career, or they can have a positive effect in terms of business, but I don’t think they can help you do the job better. I think it’s kind of a crapshoot.”
The Lord of the Rings star, who joked that he likes “living dangerously” by sitting for interviews, said he will see the final installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy when it opens on Dec. 17. “I went to the first and second Hobbit [films] on opening day and sat front and center with the funny glasses, kids on either side, and I had a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m planning on doing the same thing for the third one.”
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