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Viggo Forever

Emily Le Strange



Remember that episode of Friends many years ago, where Ross makes a list of five celebrities he’s allowed to sleep with and Rachel can’t get mad? I think I was only about fifteen when I saw that episode but even back then I thought it was excellent. I assume that everyone has a list, don’t they? Quick, if you don’t, here’s some space to jot them down:
Isn’t it fun? I just love making lists. Obviously, everyone’s list changes frequently with the times. (Certainly Jennifer Lopez has been chucked off most guys’ lists in favour of Paris Hilton.) And clearly, an extravaganza like Lord of the Rings has to make some impact on one’s list. My current top five are (in no particular order):
Viggo Mortenson (Aragorn, if you’ve been living under a rock or have been in a coma for the past three years – hey, it happens)
Paul Walker (from The Fast And The Furious and its wittily-title sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious)
Orlando Bloom (Legolas…okay I’ll admit it, I got sucked in too!)
Johnny Depp (obviously)
Brad Pitt (he just isn’t getting any uglier)
Britney is at the top of my boyfriend’s list, and to be honest if he actually managed to persuade her to hop in the sack, I would be stoked for him. (I am an excellent girlfriend, by the way. I am not at all threatened by his Britney crush.) I guess the whole point of the list is that the likelihood of getting within a kilometre of your top five (or your top fifty for that matter) is slim to none. (As Hugo would say, “Not so much likely as don’t have a shit show.”) Which brings me to the focus of today’s column…there was indeed a shit show for me. Um, let me rephrase that. Let’s just say I’m making a lot more progress than Ben’s making with Britney. Because both Viggo and Orlando came to town. Imagine how you’d feel if two of your top five came to town! Here’s some space to think about that:
Ever so casually I scoured the newspapers (and the streets, incidentally, from a five-storey building with a set of binoculars) for info. Obviously the stars were being cloistered away at the Intercontinental, surrounded twenty four seven by burly security guards, and, even worse, very stupid New Zealand journalists. But Viggo was venturing out quite a bit – what with his photos going up in the gallery and his little poetry reading. Viggo was making himself accessible. To me. I didn’t even bother with the bloody photos or the bollocky poetry, knowing he’d be at the symphony.
Picture this, my friends: It’s Saturday night, November 29, 2003. Howard Shore, composer for The Lord of the Rings is in town for the premiere and to conduct the NZSO, who are performing his six-movement (steady on, Howie) symphony. (At this point I might say something snobbishly disparaging about movie music and the concept of turning it into a “symphony” but I’ll leave that for the real music geeks). Just so you have it absolutely clear in your minds, I am wearing my very fabulous Carly Harris silk skirt that only cost me an arm and several vertebrae, with this divine silk and chiffon black top with a plunging neckline (verging on indecent to be honest but a girl’s got to get noticed somehow). I sauntered into the Michael Fowler Centre, trying not to look like another LOTR groupie screeching on the red carpet, but more like a highly desirable and elusive ice queen. I took my seat and realised I was sitting “not so much among the hoi polloi as the red-faced peasants” (as Hugo would later describe it), and not even remotely within seeing distance of Peter Jackson or Orlando or any of the bloody hobbits (who admittedly I’d settle for if it came to that). And where was Viggo? Nowhere to be seen.
Howard strutted out onto the stage to rapturous applause and proceeded to conduct his “symphony.” I was momentarily transported to Bag End, and before I knew it there was the interval and Peter et al scurried off to the VIP lounge. You have to understand that at this stage I was very disappointed that I hadn’t spotted Viggo or Orlando (Peter, I have to say, was not terribly hard to miss.) And then…oh, be still my beating heart…who wanders in through a side door and sits down four seats away from me? The King himself (that is, the King of Gondor, not Elvis). There was Viggo Mortenson. He was casually dressed, with a Maori bone carving around his neck, and his hair all short, and not at all like in the movie. He seemed very quiet and intelligent as he chatted with his friend next to him, glancing up every so often…TO LOOK AT ME!!!! YES, I swear Viggo Mortenson looked straight at me. Or maybe he’s cross eyed. I was frantic. What are you supposed to say to a movie star? You can’t say “oh, I just loved you in The Two Towers,” or, “I really respect your work, wanna shag?” because he must hear it all the bloody time. I needed a better line – I needed to stand out from the crowd (as well as, obviously, standing out from the crowd by showing more cleavage than is proper). I could compliment him on his bone carving – ask him where he got it? I’m a writer for god’s sake, I can come up with something better than that!
But I didn’t. I didn’t say anything to him at all. I just looked. It was better that way. Besides, there’s a nice boy waiting at home for me, who thinks I’m better than Britney.