Since his screen debut as a young Amish Farmer in Peter Weir's Witness (1985), Viggo Mortensen's career has been marked by a steady string of well-rounded performances. Critics have continually recognized his work in over thirty movies, including such diverse projects as Jane Campion's The Portrait of a Lady (1996), Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991), Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way (1993), Ridley Scott's G.I. Jane (1997), Tony Scott's Crimson Tide (1995), Andrew Davis's A Perfect Murder (1998), Ray Loriga's La pistola de mi hermano (1997), and Tony Goldwyn's A Walk on the Moon (1999).
Born in New York to a Danish father and an American mother, Mortensen spent the early part of his childhood in Manhattan. His family traveled a great deal and he spent several years living in Venezuela, Argentina and Denmark. He began acting in New York, studying with Warren Robertson. He appeared in several plays and movies, and eventually moved to Los Angeles, where his performance in "Bent" at the Coast Playhouse earned him a Drama-logue Critic's Award. Mortensen is also an accomplished poet, photographer and painter.
Viggo is the eldest son of Grace (Atkinson) and Viggo P. Mortensen. His father, who farmed in Denmark, met his mother, a New Yorker, in Norway. They wed and moved to New York where Viggo Jr. was born, before moving to South America where Viggo Sr. managed chicken farms and ranches in Venezuela and Argentina. Two more sons were born, Charles and Walter, before the marriage grew increasingly unhappy. When Viggo was seven, his parents sent him to a a strict boarding school, isolated in the foothills of the mountains of Argentina. Then, at age eleven, his parents divorced. His mother moved herself and the children back to her home state of New York. Viggo attended Watertown High School, and became a very good student and athlete. He graduated in 1976 and went on to St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. After graduation, he moved to Denmark - driven by the need for a defining purpose in life. He began writing poetry and short stories while working many odd jobs, from dock worker to flower seller. In 1982, he fell in love and followed his girlfriend back to New York City, hoping for a long romance and a writing career. He got neither.
In New York, Viggo found work waiting tables and bar tending and began taking acting classes. Three years later, he made his film debut with a small part in Witness (1985). Moving to Los Angeles in 1987, he appeared in Salvation!: Have You Said Your Prayers Today? (1987) and married his co-star, Exene Cervenka. The two had a son, Henry Mortensen. But after nearly eleven years of marriage, the couple divorced. In 1999, Viggo got a phone call about a movie he did not know anything about: The Lord of the Rings. At first, he didn't want to do it, because it would mean time away from his son. But Henry, a big fan of the books, told his father he shouldn't turn down the role. Viggo accepted the part and immediately began work on the project, which was already underway. Eventually, the success of Lord of the Rings made him a household name - a difficult consequence for the ever private and introspective Viggo.
|Exene Cervenka||(8 July 1987 - 13 March 1998) (divorced) 1 child|
Quiet style of speaking.
He is the ex-husband of Exene Cervenka, the singer of the punk band X.
Had a book of poetry printed before he was known. The title: "Ten Last Night."
Speaks fluent English, Spanish, Danish, and French, but he also speaks Swedish and Norwegian reasonably well.
Father of Henry Mortensen.
He actually painted the large murals in his artist's studio in the film A Perfect Murder (1998).
Lived in South America from age 2 to age 11.
Has been photographing for years, recently debuted with an exhibition at the Robert Mann Gallery in NYC. -- American Photo, July/August 2000.
Writes poetry in his spare time.
Is also a jazz musician - he has released three CDs so far.
Worked as a truck driver while living in Denmark
Broke a tooth while filming a fight sequence for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002); he asked the crew if they would glue it back on so he could finish the scene.
Replaced Stuart Townsend in the role of Aragorn/Strider in The Lord of the Rings, after filming began.
Got so into his character of Aragorn that director Peter Jackson once addressed him as Aragorn for over half an hour, and Mortensen didn't even realize it.
Was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People by People Magazine in 2002.
Has two younger brothers, Walter and Charles. They are both geologists.
Graduated from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York in 1980 with a degree in Government and Spanish.
An accomplished horseman in his spare time, Mortensen requested that his "Rings" character Aragorn be given more saddle time than was originally scripted. He also kept his on-screen horse nearby during the entire principal photography schedule in order to ride in his off-hours and strengthen his relationship with the horse.
As Viggo lived in Argentina as a child, he is a fan of Argentine soccer team San Lorenzo (real name of the team: "San Lorenzo of Almagro", from Buenos Aires City).Viggo usually wear clothes and accessories with this team's colors (red & blue) the last time in public, at the Rome Festival, in the "Alatriste" Premiere.
Broke two toes during the filming of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), in the scene where he kicks an Orc helmet.
Owner of publishing company Perceval Press.
In 2003 he visited Denmark and had a booksigning, an art exhibition opening and The Lord of The Rings premiere.
Purchased the horses he rode in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and Hidalgo (2004) after the films were completed.
It is well-known that his father is Danish and his mother American, but also his grandmother was from Trondheim, Norway.
Worked as a translator for the Swedish hockey team during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid and was at the 'miracle' game between the Soviet Union and United States.
While filming "The Lord of The Rings" trilogy in New Zealand, he would go surfing with the other actors in their spare time. One day he suffered an accident which left a bruise on the right side of his face. As a result, director Peter Jackson had to shoot only the left side of his face in the entire Moria sequence.
Was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in June 2004.
Ranked #10 on VH1's Hottest Hotties.
At first, turned down the part of Aragorn of Lord of the Rings. His son convinced him to do the part.
Is one of four "Lord of the Rings" stars to star, pre-"Rings," with Harrison Ford. He starred with Ford in Witness (1985). Ford starred with John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Sean Bean (Boromir) in Patriot Games (1992) and Miranda Otto (Eowyn) in What Lies Beneath (2000).
While working on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he asked writer/director Peter Jackson to revise scripts so that his character Aragorn would be speaking in the Elvish language in several scenes of all three movies.
He became good friends with the close-knit stunt men on the "Lord of the Rings" films, but they were wary of doing fight scenes with him because, carried away with the intensity of his character Aragorn, he would frequently "really go at them" and leave the other combatants in bruises. Massive actor Lawrence Makoare, playing Lurtz under heaps of make-up which restricted his vision, also got carried away during their fight scene at the conclusion of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and, for once, Mortensen was left more bruised than the other actor.
Ranked #19 on Tropopkin's Top 25 Most Intriguing People [Issue #100]
Although their divorce only became final in 1998, he and his former wife, Exene Cervenka, separated in late 1990/early 1991 after less than 3 years of marriage but remain close friends often working together and co-parenting their son.
His father's name is also Viggo. His mother's name is Grace.
After his parents divorced when he was eleven, he moved to new York with his mother and two younger brothers.
He received the scar on his upper lip after scratching his face on a barbed wire fence at a Halloween party.
Is a big fan of the New York Mets and the Montreal Canadiens. When filming A History of Violence (2005), he showed up on the Toronto set wearing a Canadiens' jersey.
Voted #14 in Elle (France) Magazine's "15 Sexiest Men" poll (June 2007).
Older brother of Walter Mortensen.
Choosen by Empire Magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Movie Stars in the world (#69) 2007.
Admitted in an interview that when he first started out as an actor his agents encouraged him to change his name to "Vic Morten", obviously he refused.
Filmed scenes for The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), but they were all cut out.
Spent a couple weeks in Russia prior to filming Eastern Promises (2007) to research his role and better understand his character.
A skilled horseman, he did all his own stunts in Hidalgo (2004), including a breakneck bareback ride that even the stuntman couldn't handle.
His grandfather was from Canada.
Wore a Montreal Canadiens jersey under his costume during the filming of The Lord of the Rings films.
On December 4th, 2009, for the Montréal Canadiens centennial celebration at the Bell Center, Viggo Mortensen - a long-time Canadiens fan - came out in his red Habs jersey to introduce Guy Lafleur, "my all-time hero," in French.
Was on April 16th 2010 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.
He did all of his own stunts in the 1988 horror thriller "Prison". Stunt coordinator Kane Hodder even gave him a "Stunt Crew" t-shirt after filming wrapped.
On the role of an actor in film: "It comes down to the fact that you supply the blue, and they supply the other colors and mix them with your blue, and maybe there's some blue left in the painting and maybe there isn't. Maybe there wasn't supposed to be any there in the first place. So have some fun and make a good blue and walk away."
I don't plan [my career]; I wait and hope the right thing will find me.
Photography, painting or poetry those are just extensions of me, how I perceive things, they are my way of communicating.
I'm the one who said yes to these movies, and now I'm having to pay the price for it. I mean if I had my druthers, I wouldn't do any movies anymore, frankly.
I was on my way out of a Sunday rehearsal. When I was walking out of the gym, all sort of sweaty, half in street clothes and half in Aragorn's clothes, waiving the sword around, trying to keep a mental picture of what we've just done. Just walking down the street, down to where my car was parked, on a Sunday afternoon, waiving the sword around, looking like some desperate Rasputin character. Cops car comes: there's been some report...
I'm not 23 years old and I don't have plans to make another 20 big Hollywood movies or something.
Well, I certainly wouldn't be here and my face wouldn't be up there on a poster if it wasn't for the success of Lord of the Rings. It's just a fact: film-making, finance, life.
Seeing who you are playing with is a relief. In The Lord of the Rings we did a lot of things when there was nothing there.
But I can also publish books by interesting painters and writers and I can afford to do so because my own books sell and there's a public that's interested in that. And the public have gone to see exhibitions I've had - more than they would have.
There is no star in LOTR. The Fellowship is a union.
(On David Cronenberg) It's comforting to be working with someone you know will make a good movie.
Some people will say, 'Ahhh, he's over the top, it's gratuitous,' [but] I disagree completely. He's one of the most responsible filmmakers today as far as showing violence - which there's very little of compared to other movies. It just stays with you because he shows very little of it. It just stays with you and he's very direct about it. He shows you what happens, and what the consequences are physically and emotionally, in some cases; certainly he does in A History of Violence (2005), and also here [in Eastern Promises (2007)], that makes him very honest - on David Cronenberg.
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 his research for Eastern Promises (2007)) I found some materials, some books and also a documentary a friend of mine made called "The Mark of Cain". It's a hard thing to do but she went into maximum-security prisons in Russia and spoke to people like Nikolai. And I went to Russia as well. I read and listened to and looked up anything I could that had to do with Russians even loosely connected with this story. The more Russian I could be and seem authentically, the better it would be.
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.
Y'know, I had a preconceived idea of Freud being very stiff, very formal, a wizened old man, a very rigid personality. And he was anything but. He was very gregarious. Great conversationalist. Someone who lived by his wits.
[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.
(November 2003) He visited Argentina for four days
(February 2004) Arrived in Toronto to promote Hidalgo (2004) on the 2nd.
(April 2005) Filming Alatriste (2006) in Spain.
(November 2005) He visited Argentina for five days.
(November 2005) Visited Denmark to attend the A History of Violence (2005) premiere.
(September 2006) He's in Spain to promote and attend to the premiere of his film Alatriste (2006).
(March 2007) Appeared at the Miami International Film Festival with Ariadna Gil and 'Augustin Diaz Yanes' at the showing of Alatriste (2006), where they all answered questions from the audience, afterward.
(January 2008) Filmed several readings for "The People's History" (a miniseries based on the books by Howard Zinn) in Boston, Massachusetts.
(August 2009) Presented a book by Perceval Press on Argentine poetry at the Cultural Center of Spain in Buenos Aires on August 11, 2009, and, together with the featured poets, autographed books afterwards.
(August 2012) Buenos Aires, Argentina, to promote the thriller "Todos tenemos un plan" (Everybody Has a Plan) by Ana Piterbarg in which he plays twins.
(November 2012) Istanbul, Turkey: Filming The Two Faces of January (2013)
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