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Creator / Viggo Mortensen

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"I'm just looking as always for something that's stimulating and I hope to find a good story that's a challenge, whether it's big or small. Or that it finds me. I don't have like a career plan. Maybe I should, but I don't."

Viggo Peter Mortensen Jr. (born October 20, 1958 in New York City) is a Danish-American actor, poet, painter, musician, and photographer.

He has been acting in movies since 1985, but is probably best known for his role as Aragorn in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, a role in which he was cast at the last minute and accepted without having read the books, at the insistence of his son. He frequently collaborates with David Cronenberg since A History of Violence.

Mortensen grew up in Argentina as well as in New York and lived in his father's native Denmark for several years; he speaks Spanish and Danish fluently. (He majored in Spanish at St. Lawrence University in New York because he wanted to be an actor, and figured as a Spanish major he could get good grades without having to study much, which would allow him to be in lots of plays.)

Notable films:


  • Badass Longcoat: Wore one for most of his role as Aragorn.
  • Big "NO!": While filming a scene in The Lord of the Rings, he broke his toe when kicking a helmet. The kick was meant to be followed by a wail out of sorrow/despair, but the one used in the movie is actually Mortensen howling in pain. It was kept because it was the best of the takes.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: He's never been particularly interested in celebrity culture or A-list stardom, having spent his career after the Lord of the Rings films being selective about the types of movies he chooses to star in and staying out of the spotlight when not promoting his films.
  • Creator Backlash: He has retroactively described the process of making the Lord of the Rings films "a mess" and criticized their reliance on computer generated imagery. Mortensen has said that he's deliberately chosen smaller, character-driven films in the years since the trilogy in addition to focusing on his other artistic pursuits. That said he has also insisted that he doesn't regret starring in the trilogy and appreciates the opportunities it opened up for him, and that he's still friends with most of his former castmates, sometimes appearing for reunions and talking about the experience fondly.
  • Dashing Hispanic: His role as Captain Alatriste.
  • Dull Surprise: Counted on this to make the paparazzis lose interest. And it worked; they would catch him doing stuff like taking his dog to the vet, eating a donut, and falling asleep on a bus stop, and eventually moved on to flashier targets.
  • Fake Nationality: Fake German (with a British accent) in Good, Russian in Eastern Promises (with a Russian accent) fake Spaniard (speaking Spanish) in Alatriste, and Fake Brit in Thirteen Lives.note 
  • Fatal Method Acting: Narrowly averted twice while filming The Lord of the Rings. The first time in The Fellowship of the Ring, the stuntman playing Lurtz threw a real knife instead of a prop one at his face (which he thankfully deflected), and he was at one point pulled under while filming the river scene in The Two Towers.
  • Manly Facial Hair: Quite a few of his characters have impressive beards, most famously Aragorn.
  • No Stunt Double: Does many of his own stunts. One of his most badass on-screen moments was deflecting a thrown knife with his sword during the climax of Fellowship, after the designated stuntman failed several times. Small wonder the choreographer Bob Anderson (who had trained actors and fencers for nearly fifty years) called Mortensen "the best swordsman I've ever trained."
  • Omniglot: Mortensen speaks English, Danish, Spanish, French, German, and Norwegian fluently and is conversational in Lakȟótiyapi (which he learned during the filming of Hidalgo), Arabic, Italian, and Catalan. He also has some knowledge of Russian and Swedish.
  • The Other Marty: Mortensen was cast as Aragorn when Lord of the Rings had already started filming; Stuart Townsend was originally cast in the role but was deemed too young, while Jackson wanted to keep from having to work with Daniel Day-Lewis at all, if possible.
  • Production Posse: He has a longtime collaboration with David Cronenberg beginning with A History of Violence and continuing with Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method, Falling and most recently Crimes of the Future.
  • So My Kids Can Watch: One of the reasons why he agreed to play Aragorn is because his son is a Tolkien fan.
  • Star-Making Role: Aragorn is who he is best remembered for.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: As Aragorn. In real life, he used to have a more medium blond sort of hair color, although it's mostly gray these days.