Viggo Mortensen: Purple Prose of Cairo

"In Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo,

[Viggo Mortensen] was given the role of a young movie actor just starting out, chatting to another actor at a Hollywood party in the '30s. Woody Allen whispered some instructions to the other actor, then said, 'Let's shoot it.'

"'Well, what am I doing?' Viggo remembers asking. 'What do you want me to do?' 'Whatever you want,' Allen told him. 'Just react to whatever he's doing.'

"The other actor asked Viggo what he'd been up to recently.

"'I sort of made this joke,' he recalls: '"Oh, I've just been working on this movie, a big break, a Cecil B. DeMille movie," and he asked, "What were you playing?" And I said, "Oh, this guy, he's got this beard and he's on a cross and stuff..." Some silly f---ing thing where the actor's so ignorant he doesn't know it's Jesus that he was playing.' (By way of clarification, I ask him: 'Let's get this straight. In one of your first roles, you were cast in a Woody Allen movie, and you tried to do the jokes?' 'He told me to,' Viggo shrugs, laughing.)

"Woody Allen seemed happy enough, so this time Viggo suggested to his family that they see the movie -- and their son -- when it opened. So they did, and they reported back that the one did not include the other."

["Oh, it's great to meet you," director Oliver Stone once told Mortensen, who politely pointed out that they had met several times before.]

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