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Viggo Mortensen – MovieActors.com

Viggo Mortensen in THE PROPHECY.

About Viggo Mortensen (1958 – )

Viggo Peter Mortensen Jr. Mortensen was born October 20, 1958, in New York City. His mother, Grace Gamble (née Atkinson), is American, and his father, Viggo Peter Mortensen Sr., is Danish; the two met in Norway. His maternal grandfather was from Nova Scotia, Canada, and his maternal grandmother's family was from New England.

The family moved to Venezuela, then Denmark, and eventually settled in Argentina in the provinces of Córdoba, Chaco, and Buenos Aires where he attended primary school and acquired a fluent proficiency in Spanish while his father managed poultry farms and ranches. At the age of 11, his parents divorced and he returned to New York with his mother where he spent the rest of his childhood, graduating from Watertown High School in Watertown, New York in 1976.

He then attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, earning a bachelor's degree in Spanish Studies and Politics in 1980. Afterward, he went to Europe and lived in Spain, England, and Denmark where he took various jobs such as driving trucks in Esbjerg and selling flowers in Copenhagen. He returned to the United States to pursue an acting career.

After several years of experience in live theater, Mortensen made his first film appearance playing an Amish farmer in Peter Weir's Witness (Mortensen had actually acted in at least one prior film, The Purple Rose of Cairo, but his scenes were deleted from the final cuts). Also in 1985, he was cast in the role of Bragg on Search for Tomorrow. Mortensen's 1987 performance in Bent at the Coast Playhouse, Los Angeles, won him a Dramalogue Critics' Award. Coincidentally, the play, about homosexual concentration camp prisoners, was originally brought to prominence by Ian McKellen, with whom Mortensen later costarred in The Lord of the Rings. In 1987, Mortensen guest starred as a corrupt police detective on the hit series Miami Vice.

During the 1990s, Mortensen appeared in supporting roles in a variety of films, including Jane Campion's The Portrait of a Lady, Young Guns II, Prison, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Sean Penn's The Indian Runner, The Crew, which won the São Paulo Film Festival Audience Award, Brian de Palma's Carlito's Way, Crimson Tide, G.I. Jane, Daylight, A Walk on the Moon, American Yakuza, Charles Robert Carner's remake Vanishing Point, Philip Ridley's films The Reflecting Skin and The Passion of Darkly Noon, the remake films A Perfect Murder and Gus Van Sant's Psycho (the 1998 remakes of two Alfred Hitchcock's movies Dial M for Murder and Psycho), 28 Days, and The Prophecy, with Christopher Walken. Of these roles, Mortensen was probably best known for playing Master Chief John Urgayle in G.I. Jane.

Another major mainstream breakthrough came in 1999, when Peter Jackson cast him as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. According to the Special Extended Edition DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Mortensen was a last-minute replacement for Stuart Townsend, and would not have taken the part of Aragorn had it not been for his son's enthusiasm for the J. R. R. Tolkien novel. In the The Two Towers DVD extras, the film's swordmaster, Bob Anderson, described Mortensen as "the best swordsman I've ever trained." Mortensen often performed his own stunts, and even the injuries he sustained during several of them did not dampen his enthusiasm. At one point during shooting of The Two Towers, Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, and Brett Beattie (scale double for John Rhys-Davies) all had painful injuries, and during a shoot of them, running in the mountains, Peter Jackson jokingly referred to the three as "the walking wounded." Also, according to the Special Extended Edition DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Mortensen purchased the two horses, Uraeus and Kenny, whom he rode and bonded with over the duration of the films. He received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Aragorn, which include ranking No. 15 on a compiled list of "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters" by Empire.

In 2004, Mortensen starred as Frank Hopkins in Hidalgo, the story of an ex-army courier who travels to Arabia to compete with his horse, Hidalgo, in a dangerous desert race for a contest prize.

In 2005, Mortensen starred in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. He was nominated for a Satellite Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for this role. In the DVD extras for A History of Violence, Cronenberg related that Mortensen is the only actor he had come across who would come back from weekends with his family with items he had bought to use as props on the set.

In 2006, he starred as Captain Diego Alatriste in the Spanish language film Alatriste, based on the series of novels The Adventures of Captain Alatriste, written by the Spanish writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte.

In September 2007, the film Eastern Promises, directed by David Cronenberg, was released to critical acclaim for the film itself and for Mortensen's performance as a Russian gangster on the rise in London. His nude fight scene in a steam room was applauded by Roger Ebert: "Years from now, it will be referred to as a benchmark." Mortensen's performance in Eastern Promises resulted in his winning the Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film award from the British Independent Film Awards. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

In 2009, Mortensen appeared as himself in the film Reclaiming The Blade, in which he discussed his passion for the sword and his sword work in films such as The Lord of the Rings and Alatriste. Mortensen also talked about his work with Bob Anderson, the swordmaster on The Lord of the Rings, Alatriste, Pirates of the Caribbean and many others.

While it was reported in April 2009 that Mortensen had, at least temporarily, retired from film acting, Mortensen said he was misquoted. In a 2012 interview, he denied that he ever said he was retiring, only that he didn't have "plans to do another movie" at the time and that he was "taking a little break now. I don’t have anything lined up.”

In 2009 he joined the cast of The Road, a film adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, and collaborated with David Cronenberg for a third time on A Dangerous Method.

After two decades, Mortensen returned to theatre in 2011, starring in Ariel Dorfman's Purgatorio in Madrid.

With part of his earnings from The Lord of the Rings, Mortensen founded the Perceval Press publishing house — named after the knight from the legend of King Arthur — to help other artists by publishing works that might not find a home in more traditional publishing venues.

Mortensen is a painter and photographer. His paintings are frequently abstract and often contain fragments of his poetry in them. His paintings have been featured in galleries worldwide, and many of the paintings of the artist he portrayed in A Perfect Murder are his own.

Mortensen experiments with his poetry and music by mixing the two art forms. He has collaborated with guitarist Buckethead on several albums, mostly released on his own label (Perceval Press) or TDRS Music. Viggo was first introduced to Buckethead's work while working on sounds for an educational CD on Greek mythology. The finished product included a guitar part by Buckethead, which caught Viggo's ear and led him to initiate contact with the guitarist. The collaboration grew from there.

Mortensen is featured on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King soundtrack, singing "Aragorn's Coronation" (the name of the extended version of this song in the 3rd original sound track is "The Return of the King"), the words by Tolkien and the music composed by Mortensen. In the extended DVD edition of the first Lord of the Rings movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, he sings the song "The Lay of Beren and Lúthien". His poems are written in English, Danish, and Spanish.

Following his appearance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in 2006 he was granted an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, St. Lawrence University.

On October 13, 2006, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Province and the City of León, Spain.

On April 16, 2010, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog.

Mortensen holds dual American-Danish citizenship. He speaks fluent English, Danish, Spanish and French; he is also conversational in Italian, and understands Norwegian and Swedish. He has stated that he was raised speaking English and Spanish and at times feels more comfortable expressing himself in Spanish. He also has some knowledge of Catalan; twice, when receiving a prize in Catalonia, he made a short speech in Catalan.

Mortensen met his wife, actress/singer Exene Cervenka of the first wave California punk band X (American_band) in 1986 on the set of the comedy Salvation!, a parody of televangelism. The couple married on July 8, 1987. On January 28, 1988, Cervenka gave birth to a son, Henry Blake Mortensen. Mortensen and Cervenka lived in Idaho for three years. Mortensen and Cervenka separated in 1992, and were divorced in 1997. Since 2009, he has been in a relationship with the Spanish actress Ariadna Gil.

Viggo Mortensen's movie credits include...

Year Movie Role
1985WitnessMoses Hochleitner
1985The Purple Rose of CairoUnknown
1987Miami ViceEddie
1987Salvation!Jerome Stample
1988PrisonBurke / Forsythe Electrocution
1988Fresh HorsesGreen
1990Once in a Blue Moon
1990TripwireHans
1990Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre IIIEdward "Tex" Sawyer
1990Young Guns IIJohn W. Poe
1990The Reflecting SkinCameron Dove
1991The Indian RunnerFrank Roberts
1993Boiling PointRonnie
1993Ruby CairoJohn E. "Johnny" Faro
1993Carlito's WayLalin
1993The Young AmericansCarl Frazer
1994The CrewPhillip
1994FlounderingHomeless Man
1994Gospel According to HarryWes
1994American YakuzaNick Davis/David Brandt
1995GimletHombre
1995Crimson TideLieutenant Peter "Weps" Ince
1995The Passion of Darkly NoonClay
1995Black Velvet PantsuitJunkie
1995The ProphecyLucifer
1996Albino AlligatorGuy Foucard
1996DaylightRoy Nord
1996The Portrait of a LadyCaspar Goodwood
1997Vanishing PointJimmy Kowalski
1997G.I. JaneMaster Chief John James "Jack" Urgayle
1997My Brother's GunJuanito
1998A Perfect MurderDavid Shaw
1998PsychoSamuel "Sam" Loomis
1999A Walk on the MoonWalker Jerome
200028 DaysEddie Boone
2001The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring
Aragorn
2002The Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers
Aragorn
2003The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King
Aragorn
2004HidalgoFrank Hopkins
2005A History of ViolenceTom Stall / Joey Cusack
2006AlatristeDiego Alatriste y Tenorio
2007Eastern PromisesNikolai Luzhin
2008AppaloosaEverett Hitch
2008GoodJohn Halder
2009The RoadThe Man
2011A Dangerous MethodSigmund Freud
2012On the RoadOld Bull Lee
2012Everybody Has a PlanAgustín / Pedro (assumes twin characters)
2014The Two Faces of JanuaryChester MacFarland
2014JaujaGunnar Dinesen
2014Far from MenDaru
2016Captain FantasticBen

Memorable Quotes by Viggo Mortensen

“I don't plan [my career]; I wait and hope the right thing will find me.”

“Life is short... I like to pay attention while I'm going through it. Whatever I see, like anyone else, I'm going to filter it and create my own idea of what it is - on painting, creating music, writing poetry, and taking photographs in addition to acting.”

“I'd like to, when it's all said and done, say that I have at least a few stories that I feel proud of. I don't just want to look back and say, 'I was on x number of magazines.' As far as money goes, there's a saying in Denmark: 'Your last suit doesn't have any pockets.' You can't take it with you. You can make all the money you want, but who cares?”

[on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)] “I went on opening day to see it. I was actually in Argentina, and I went with a bunch of kids and their parents. It was kind of a party atmosphere, it was fun, it was in 3-D, and they had popcorn. I enjoyed it. In particular it was nice to see some of the landscapes I remembered. It was a nice trip down memory lane, where we'd shot near some of the places where I'd gone camping or fishing.”

[on Peter Jackson] “Peter, I was sure he would do another intimately-scaled film like Heavenly Creatures (1994), maybe with this project about New Zealanders in the First World War he wanted to make, but then he did King Kong (2005). And then he did The Lovely Bones (2009) and I thought that would be his smaller movie. But the problem is, he did it on a ninety million dollar budget. That should have been a fifteen million dollar movie. The special effects thing, the genie, was out of the bottle, and it has him.”

“Be kind. It's worthwhile to make an effort to learn about other people and figure out what you might have in common with them.”

Things You May Not Know About Viggo Mortensen

Admitted in an interview that when he first started out as an actor his agents encouraged him to change his name to "Vic Morten".

A skilled horseman, he did all his own stunts in Hidalgo, including a breakneck bareback ride that even the stuntman couldn't handle.

Replaced Christoph Waltz in the role of Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method after Waltz backed out of the project in order to film Water for Elephants.

Was knighted by Queen Margarethe II of Denmark. He is now one of five knights from The Lord of the Rings production; the others being Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee and Peter Jackson.

As of 2016, he has appeared in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Witness, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, with the latter being a winner in the category.

He purchased the horses he rode in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and Hidalgo after the films were completed.

_0005_viggo-mortensen-lord-of-the-rings-pic6 _0000_viggo-mortensen-lord-of-the-rings-pic1 _0001_viggo-mortensen-lord-of-the-rings-pic2-with-orlando-bloom _0004_viggo-mortensen-lord-of-the-rings-pic5 _0003_viggo-mortensen-lord-of-the-rings-pic4 _0002_viggo-mortensen-lord-of-the-rings-pic3
Viggo Mortensen as Strider/Aragorn in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings
film trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)... with Orlando Bloom in picture three...
_0006_viggo-mortensen-the-road-pic1 _0007_viggo-mortensen-the-road-pic2-with-kodi-smit-mcphee _0008_viggo-mortensen-the-road-pic3-with-kodi-smit-mcphee _0011_viggo-mortensen-the-road-pic4-with-kodi-smit-mcphee
Mortensen in The Road (2009)... with Kodi Smit Mcphee in bottom three pictures.
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A young Viggo Mortensen eyeing Harrison Ford
in Witness (1985)... Alexander Godunov on right.
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As Old Bull Lee in On the Road (2012).
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In Captain Fantastic (2016).
_0013_viggo-mortensen-a-history-of-violence-pic1 _0014_viggo-mortensen-a-history-of-violence-pic2 _0015_viggo-mortensen-a-history-of-violence-pic3 _0016_viggo-mortensen-a-history-of-violence-pic4
In Cronenberg's A History of Violence (2005).
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Mortensen in Appaloosa (2008)... top two pictures with Ed Harris.
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Mortensen in Alariste (2006).
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As Nikolai Luzhin in Eastern Promises (2007).
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As Freud in A Dangerous Method (2011)... bottom picture with Michael Fassbender.
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Playing John Halder in Good (2008)... middle picture with Jodie Whittaker.
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Mortensen in Hidalgo (2004).
_0032_viggo-mortensen-g-i-jane-pic1-with-demi-moore _0033_viggo-mortensen-g-i-jane-pic2-with-demi-moore
Alongside Demi Moore in G.I. Jane (1997).
_0034_viggo-mortensen-a-walk-on-the-moon-pic1 _0035_viggo-mortensen-a-walk-on-the-moon-pic2-with-diane-lane
In A Walk on the Moon (1999)... bottom picture with Diane Lane.
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In the 1998 remake of Psycho with Julianne Moore.
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Mortensen in Fresh Horses (1988).
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Mortensen, center, in Albino Alligator (1996).
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In A Perfect Murder (1998)... with Gwyneth Paltrow in bottom picture.
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Viggo Mortensen in 28 Days (2000).