Friday, March 21, 2008

Ellen Graham’s Eye on the World: Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen. New York City, 1980.
I first knew Ellen and her husband Ian Graham in Los Angeles where they have a wonderful house in Beverly Hills and often entertain with cocktail parties. Ellen’s fabulous photographs are kept mainly in one large room, a gallery/library. There are so many famous faces in fascinating places that you can’t resist being distracted by them. Many times you’d see the same faces out on the Grahams’ terrace or around the pool during cocktails. In 2004 she published some of them in her “The Bad and The Beautiful” (Harry Abrams) with Christopher Walken on the cover. — DPC

Viggo Mortensen
Early 80s

I shot this in the early 80s on the roof of the Ritz Carlton here in New York in either late spring or early autumn when the weather was still warm. It was for the book I was putting together called “Beautiful Men.”

Ellen Graham
He was totally unknown and I had no idea that he was such a talented actor. He was very attractive, very sexy and perfect for the book. I think he was sent by his agent who knew what I was working on; and he happened to be good looking. That was all that he had going for him at the moment. In fact I told him that he should change his name because no one would ever remember Viggo Mortenson. Little did I know I was shooting a star.

The session lasted an hour at the most. He was very charming, very sweet, and kind of shy. He did all kinds of acrobatics to please me in getting a good picture, and although I shot that, in the end it came down to this – just standing.

— Ellen Graham
Viggo Mortensen. New York City, 1980 (from The Bad and The Beautiful).

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