"O, the difference of man and man!" (that's Shakespeare but it applies here too, don't you think?). Comparing the styles of these two actors, Johnny Depp and Viggo Mortenson, is a study in contrasts.
They do share being well known for their sweeping-epic romantic hero characters: Johnny Depp as flamboyant, debauched rock-star pirate Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean; Viggo Mortenson as the intense, quietly heroic Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings.
At the core of both those characters runs a deep vein of ethics and honor, but obviously the execution of those larger-than-life personalities is quite different. And that is reflected in their personal style.
Depp (who will be 50 on his next birthday in June!) seems to have internalized and externalized Jack Sparrow – at least his mode of dress. Whereas Viggo Mortenson (who just had his 54th birthday on October 20 (a day rather dear to my heart) has a style so subdued it's barely a whisper.
But another bond they share? Book bindng. Well, insofar as they are both book publishers! Depp only recently — 4 days before Viggo's birthday, the news broke that publishing giant HarperCollins had tapped Depp to do his own imprint: Infinitum Nihil. It's Latin! & means Nothing is Forever (maybe Johnny Depp should have done the Brad Pitt Chanel No.5 commercial!).
His upcoming roster thus far is rather musical in nature, with a novel by Woody Guthrie and a book about Bob Dylan. The Huffington Post noted Depp's bookish leanings
…Last week, he revealed an upcoming collaboration with Swedish production company producing a Shakespeare-inspired series, and last month he was spotted at a book signing for Damien Echols [pictured, upper left]. Not to mention the literary nature of most of the films he stars in - Alice in Wonderland, Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Secret Window, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."
Viggo Mortenson has been a publisher for longer – after the Lord of the Rings, he funneled some of his earnings into Perceval Press, so named to echo a character in Arthurian legend:
On his way to achieve knighthood at King Arthur's Court, he and his knights choose to find their own paths. 'If there was a trail,' says Mortensen, 'they wouldn't take it. They had to make their own ways. I wanted to provide that opportunity for artists.'"
Mortenson publishes a lot of his own poetry and artwork through this imprint as well as other artists, and there is a musical arm as well. The visuals, quotes and We Recommend section are so compelling you can find yourself lost in the website, and lose track of time.
One of my favorite things Viggo Mortenson said in relation to playing Aragorn:
His greatest struggle is to be himself, unashamed of his fears and his doubts."
Isn't that true for all of us? Something to discuss at your next book group — and a bit of a departure to be drooling over the publishers, as opposed to say, Shades of Grey, eh?
Another stylish personality who went into publishing? Jackie Kennedy, who very well might have quoted the first line of this article.
Other books on style:
- Style Vie: Julia Child and Helen Gurley Brown
- Dana Delany, Wendy Malick & Melissa Leo's Art & Soul
- Fashion: We've got Your Backstory
- Is Marilyn Monroe Your Style Icon?
- Bringing Style to World Book Night