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Look out for more coverage of
Hidalgo in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Hidalgo

THE STARS:
Viggo Mortensen • Omar Sharif • Zuleikha Robinson
DIRECTOR: Joe Johnston

Hidalgo THE CONCEPT:
The movie, set in 1890, is based on the life of Frank T. Hopkins, one of the greatest long-distance riders in the American West. Along with his horse, a mustang named Hidalgo, he was the first American invited to enter the Ocean of Fire, a grueling 3,000-mile survival race across the Arabian Desert.

U.S. RELEASE: March 5 2004, Nationwide
• Rated: PG-13

THE COMMENTS:

VIGGO MORTENSEN (Frank T. Hopkins):
“When I first read the script for Hidalgo I thought it was a really interesting story. I’d never heard of this guy. Now when I look back at it, I think that not many actors get even one chance to be in a project like Hidalgo or The Lord of the Rings that are, in my opinion, really entertaining adventures, heroic journeys, that are also thought provoking and not just a yarn.”

JOE JOHNSTON:
“I don’t think there are that many actors who can ride like Viggo can. When you get into something like this, you think, ‘We’ll cast some great actor, then we’ll teach him to ride.’ But Viggo’s been riding since he was 10-years old, and he did things on the horse that some of the stuntmen had trouble doing.”

MORTENSEN on acting with Omar Sharif:
“Just to sit close to him, playing scenes and being the beneficiary of that energy, charm and presence, was great. But, above all, he has a great memory, and it was perked up by being in the same places [that he was in 40 years ago shooting Lawrence of Arabia]. He would talk about David Lean, and his adventures and misadventures with Peter O’Toole on and off the set. It was fascinating.”

OMAR SHARIF (Sheikh Riyadh):
“When we were filming Lawrence of Arabia, we were the first to go to Ouarzazate (Morocco), where we shot the big part of Hidalgo. There were no hotels then. We just pitched tents. Now, there’s a big film industry. It’s almost like Hollywood over there now.”

ZULEIKHA ROBINSON (Jazira):
“I met Omar when we got to Morocco, and he’s a very kind, sweet, gentle man. I didn’t feel any pressure working with him. I was more intimidated by Viggo, because I’d just seen The Lord of the Rings, and I was like, ‘Wow, who’s that man?’ like every other woman in the world.”

JOHNSTON:
“There were five horses that played Hidalgo, but one close-up horse by the name of T.J. He was the main horse. That’s the one Viggo took home with him. He was very sweet, but he couldn’t run very far and he couldn’t do tricks, but he had this great face, and everybody wanted him, but Viggo out bid everyone.”

MORTENSEN:
“I did buy T.J. I thought about it all during the shoot. And the latter part of the shoot I asked Rex Peterson, who owned him, the trainer, what he thought about that, and he said, ‘You can have first dibs on him certainly.’ I know he was happy for me to have him. I just wanted to keep up the relationship with him. It wasn’t a question of possessing him; it was just staying in touch with him. He’s at a friend’s place outside town, where I can go and ride him a lot.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Hidalgo site
Images above © Touchstone Pictures
Feature © 2004 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #641, March 2004 cover

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