Viggo Peter Mortensen Jr. (born October 20, 1958 in Watertown, New York City) is a Danish-American actor (and 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 film version of The Lord of the Rings 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.
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.)
- Witness (1985)
- Prison (1988)
- Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)
- The Indian Runner (1991)
- American Yakuza (1993)
- Carlito's Way (1993)
- Crimson Tide (1995)
- The Prophecy (1995)
- The Portrait Of A Lady (1996)
- G.I. Jane (1997)
- A Perfect Murder (1998)
- Psycho (1998)
- The Lord of the Rings
- Hidalgo (2004)
- A History of Violence (2005)
- Alatriste (2006)
- Eastern Promises (2007)
- Good (2008)
- The Road (2009)
- A Dangerous Method (2011)
- On the Road (2012)
- Captain Fantastic (2016)
- Green Book (2018)
- Badass Beard: Many of his characters have these. Most famously Aragorn.
- 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.
- Bilingual Bonus: Speaks Danish and Spanish fluently, he has frequently given interviews in both, as well as done shout-outs during events and in English-language interviews.
- He performs for Howard Zinn's The People Speak, citing a diary entry by Bartolome de Las Casas on the horrendous treatment of American Indians by Christian settlers. In English and in the diary entry's original Spanish!
- Of all the actors who had lines in the Elven languages (the two used in the film being very complete constructed languages with detailed grammatical rules and thousands of known words) when filming The Lord of the Rings, Mortensen made the strongest effort to ensure his dialog and pronunciation was correct. If you're trying to learn Quenya or Sindarin and have any doubts how something should sound, queue up the film and check to see if Mortensen says it.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: According to a lot of his co-stars:
- Elijah Wood said that while filming The Lord of the Rings, Mortensen called him and left him a five minute rambling voice-mail in a fake German accent. Wood went on to say, "Everyone talks about how much integrity he has and how brilliant he is. And its true. Hes also completely insane."
- His ex-wife (who he's still friends with) has said that what first endeared him to her was the fact that he keeps most of his poetry in his refrigerator.
- He's also the guy who started the "tradition" of LotR stuntmen greeting each other with headbutts.
- During the credits for Fellowship of the Ring's extended edition, in the actor commentaries, the hobbit actors read the names and then give a succinct one-line description.Billy Boyd: "Viggo Mortensen": mad as a fish.
- In between filming the love scenes for A Perfect Murder, he sang Argentinian love songs to calm Gwyneth Paltrow and create an air of intimacy. However, he's fairly sure he just weirded her out.
- Dashing Hispanic: His role as Captain Alatriste.
- Fake Nationality: Fake German (with a British accent) in Good, Russian in Eastern Promises (with a Russian accent) and fake Spaniard (speaking Spanish) in Alatriste.
- Fatal Method Acting: Fortunately averted in The Lord of the Rings, in which he was at one point pulled under while filming the river scene in The Two Towers.
- 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.
- Master Swordsman: Bob Anderson, a veteran swordmaster and long-renowned fight choreographer for Hollywood, called Mortensen "the best swordsman I've ever trained."
- Mr. Fanservice: Even his co-star Miranda Otto admitted it was going to be easy to portray falling in love with his character for her role.
- Renaissance Man: Aside from acting, he's a poet, painter, songwriter and photographer. Oh, and he owns a printing press, Perceval Press. He's also an accomplished equestrian, riding horses in a number of movies as well as in real life. He purchased the two horses he rode in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and one of the ones from Hidalgo. He also released a photography book about horses and riders.
- 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.