Democracy Now! - November 5, 2015

Viggo Mortensen, the actor known by millions for his portrayal of the warrior-king Aragorn in the blockbuster "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, joins us to talk about peace, the ongoing wars in the Middle East, U.S. empire, working with the late historian Howard Zinn, and his response to the growing police boycott of director Quentin Tarantino’s films for speaking out against police brutality. Mortensen is a vocal advocate of progressive causes, using his celebrity to speak out for social justice. On top of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Viggo Mortensen has starred in numerous films including David Cronenberg’s movies "A History of Violence," "Eastern Promises," for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, and "A Dangerous Method," for which he received a Golden Globe Award. Mortensen is also poet, painter, photographer and book publisher who spotlights alternative voices. He is the editor at his own imprint, Perceval Press, which has just reissued the 2003 book, "Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation."

Award-winning film director Quentin Tarantino is refusing to back down from his criticism of police brutality, even as police unions have launched a campaign to boycott his films. Tarantino sparked controversy after he called fatal police shootings "murders" during the Rise Up October rally against police brutality in New York City on October 24. Tarantino’s comments have come under intense criticism, with several major police unions calling for a boycott of his films. "[Tarantino] clearly saw what anybody with eyes on their head could see," says Academy Award-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen. "What’s troubling is the tacit condoning of these abuses of power by certain police officers by their bosses, by people who should know better." Mortensen also looks back on his own brush with a right-wing political backlash, after he famously wore a T-shirt on the PBS show Charlie Rose that said "No more blood for oil."

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have voiced support for President Obama’s plan to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan through the end of his term in 2017. Obama had declared an official end to the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan last year, but announced last month he was halting the phased military withdrawal. "I wish Bernie Sanders would be president, for many reasons," says actor Viggo Mortensen. "I think in many ways he speaks truth to power, but even in foreign policy, in many ways, he is as hawkish as Hillary Clinton is."

Actor, poet, photographer and book publisher Viggo Mortensen, star of the "Lord of the Rings" franchise, reads his poem "Back to Babylon" from his newly reissued book, "Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation." Mortensen also shares his thoughts on the progressive bent of Pope Francis and speaking out about injustice while leading a creative life.

Full episodes of Democracy Now! can be viewed at the link: https://freespeech.org/collection/democracy-now.

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