Viggo Mortensen Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (4)  | Trade Mark (7)  | Trivia (83)  | Personal Quotes (38)  | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameViggo Peter Mortensen Jr.
Nicknames Vig
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

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.

Mortensen was born in New York City, to Grace Gamble (Atkinson) and Viggo Peter Mortensen, Sr. His father was Danish, his mother was American, and his maternal grandfather was Canadian. His parents met 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 tending bar and began taking acting classes, 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.

He made his film debut with a small part in Witness (1985). He appeared in Salvation! (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 "The Lord of the Rings" made him a household name - a difficult consequence for the ever private and introspective Viggo.

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 My Brother's Gun (1997), Tony Goldwyn's A Walk on the Moon (1999), and Peter Farrelly's Green Book (2018).

Mortensen is also an accomplished poet, photographer and painter.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Grace Z and J.W. Braun

Family (4)

Spouse Exene Cervenka (8 July 1987 - 13 March 1998)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Children Henry Mortensen
Henry Mortensen
Parents Grace Gamble Mortensen (Atkinson)
Viggo Peter Mortensen Sr.
Relatives Walter Mortensen (sibling)
Charles Mortensen (sibling)

Trade Mark (7)

Cleft chin
Quiet, methodical style of speaking
Often plays rugged but reluctant heroes
Frequently cast by David Cronenberg
Relaxed naturalistic acting style
Soft mellow voice
Methodical and dedicated research, preparation for roles.

Trivia (83)

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 yet not fluently Catalan, Swedish, Norwegian, Italian and Arabic.
Became a father for the 1st time at age 29 when his [now ex] wife Exene Cervenka gave birth to their son Henry Mortensen on January 28, 1988.
He actually painted the large murals in his artist's studio in the film A Perfect Murder (1998).
Lived in South America from age two 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 and 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.
In 1998, he appeared in two remakes of Alfred Hitchcock films: A Perfect Murder (1998), a remake of Dial M for Murder (1954), and Psycho (1998), a remake of Psycho (1960).
Purchased the horses he rode in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and Hidalgo (2004) after the films were completed.
His father was Danish. His mother was American, born in Watertown, Jefferson, New York, in upstate NY. She was of English, and more distant Scottish, ancestry. Viggo's maternal grandfather, Walter Sidney Atkinson, was from Parrsboro, Cumberland, Nova Scotia, Canada, and his maternal grandmother, Mary Annis (Gamble), was from New York, and had deep roots in NY and Connecticut.
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.
He is the son of Grace Gamble (Atkinson) and Viggo Peter Mortensen.
After his parents divorced when he was 11, 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.
In Eastern Promises (2007) his Russian/Ukrainian dialect coach was Olegar Fedoro.
For his role in Eastern Promises (2007), he stated that part of his performance was inspired by Russian hockey player Alexei Kovalev.
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.
Replaced Christoph Waltz in the role of Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method (2011) after Waltz backed out of the project in order to film Water for Elephants (2011).
Met ex-wife Exene Cervenka on the set of Salvation! (1987).
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.
Visited Denmark to attend the A History of Violence (2005) premiere. [November 2005]
Filmed several readings for "The People's History" (a miniseries based on the books by Howard Zinn) in Boston, Massachusetts. [January 2008]
Istanbul, Turkey: Filming The Two Faces of January (2014) [November 2012]
He visited Argentina for four days. [November 2003]
He's in Spain to promote and attend to the premiere of his film Captain Alatriste: The Spanish Musketeer (2006). [September 2006]
At Rome film Festival to promote his two new movies: Appaloosa (2008) and Good (2008). He is here between 23rd and 28th October. [October 2008]
Buenos Aires, Argentina, to promote the thriller Everybody Has a Plan (2012) in which he plays twins. [August 2012]
Arrived in Toronto to promote Hidalgo (2004) on the 2nd. [February 2004]
Appeared at the Miami International Film Festival with Ariadna Gil and 'Augustin Diaz Yanes' at the showing of Captain Alatriste: The Spanish Musketeer (2006), where they all answered questions from the audience, afterward. [March 2007]
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 2009]
Filming Captain Alatriste: The Spanish Musketeer (2006) in Spain. [April 2005]
In London shooting the movie Eastern Promises (2007) by David Cronenberg. [November 2006]
Has worked with the two actors who have played the character of Magneto in the X-Men saga, Ian McKellen (the Lord of the Rings) and Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method (2011)).
He is an avid NY Mets fan.
As of 2019, he has appeared in five films that were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture: Witness (1985), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and Green Book (2018), with the latter two films being winners in the category.
His "Lord of The Rings" co-star Billy Boyd described him as 'mad as a fish.'.
Elijah Wood said of him: "Everyone talks about how much integrity he has and how brilliant he is. And it's true. He's also completely insane.".
He's made movies where he spoke in English, Danish, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Italian.
Mortensen did not participate in the pre-production stunt and sword training given to the actors in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy as he was cast as a replacement only two days prior to the start of filming. However, at the end of filming, the film's swordmaster, the legendary Bob Anderson, stated that Mortenson was the best swordsman he'd ever trained.
Quentin Tarantino offered him the role of Jody Domergue in The Hateful Eight (2015), but he had to decline because of scheduling conflicts.
He has dual American and Danish citizenship.
He was among the actors considered for the role of Wolverine in X-Men (2000) before Hugh Jackman was cast.
Since May 2018, he is member of Omnium Cultural - a Catalan association based in Barcelona (Catalonia) originally created to promote the Catalan language and spread Catalan culture.
Nominated for the 2019 Golden Globe Award in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy category for his role as Tony Lip in Green Book (2018), but lost to Christian Bale for Vice (2018).
Nominated for a 2019 Academy Award in the Best Actor in a leading Role category for his role as Tony Lip in Green Book (2018) but lost to Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody (2018).
Speaks fluent French.
In a relationship with Ariadna Gil since 2009.
He was cut from his first two movies (Swing Shift (1984) and The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)), without being told by the filmmakers. He had encouraged his family to go see them in theaters, only to be told his scenes were not in the film, and he didn't appear in the credits. Viggo's mother became concerned that he had been caught up in New York's crack epidemic and was lying about his lifestyle.
Declined the offer to return as Aragorn in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Personal Quotes (38)

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, waving 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, waving 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.
[on The Lord of the Rings trilogy] In the first movie, yes, there's Rivendell, and Mordor, but there's sort of an organic quality to it, actors acting with each other, and real landscapes; it's grittier. The second movie already started ballooning, for my taste, and then by the third one, there were a lot of special effects. It was grandiose and all that, but whatever was subtle in the first movie, gradually got lost in the second and third. Now with The Hobbit, one and two, it's like that to the power of 10.
[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.
[on David Cronenberg] [He] has helped me do really good work, better than other directors. Maybe because he understands my process and because we have some things in common in terms of our sensibility - the kinds of books we like to read, our sense of humor is similar.
[on awards] I don't' think awards make you better, they don't really have any effect. They can have a negative effect on your career, or they can have a positive effect in terms of business, but I don't think they can help you do the job better. I think it's kind of a crapshoot.
[on A History of Violence (2005)] If not the best, it's one of the best movies I've ever been in. There's no such thing as a perfect movie, but in the way that that script was handled, the way it was shot ... it's a perfect film noir movie, or it's close to perfect I should say.
I always think of movie-making as a team sport.
I don't really select what I'm going to do based on the budget or the genre or the nationality of the project. I'm looking for stories that I'd like to go see in the movie theatre.
I've always appreciated, more and more as the years have gone by, the fact that movie-making contains all the arts: Writing, design, fashion, photography, work on accents... There's so many things to learn from. It's a complete universe, artistically.
I don't think violence is ever excusable. It's most often a metaphor for something that's going on in a relationship or in the person's understanding - or misunderstanding - of their place in society.
Half the fun-no, really all the fun-is in the preparation.
Everything begins with stillness, with silence. Movies are light and time. Before the movie begins, there is darkness and nothing is happening. When the movie starts, the clock starts, and we see. And, unless it is a silent movie, we hear. From then on, it is all give and take with the initial stillness, the initial darkness, and nothing can ever be entirely unseen, unnoticed or immobile. Trusting that, letting yourself breathe and move in unison with the tension between "nothing is" and "anything could be," allows you to communicate whatever you can imagine communicating, whether you appear to be still or are moving as fast as you can.
I like movies that end [with] "...And now what?" I like it when they don't tie everything up.
I just think that the more realistic and specific you are with the details, the more universal the story becomes.
As an actor, for me it's always the story first. I've heard some actors say, "With this director or this director, I would do anything with him or with her, 'cause I admire them so much. I don't care what it is, all they would have to say is, 'Do you wanna be in a movie?" Yes! I don't even have to read it." I'm not like that. For me it's the story first. And if I don't like the story, I don't care who's directing it.
Sometimes if you're left wanting more, that's not such a bad thing. Same thing as in a friendship or especially in an intimate relationship. To be in too much of a hurry sometimes, sometimes maybe it's better not to be, to get to know somebody a little bit without thinking about it. That sort of 'instant gratification' approach to movie making, to a movie audience... sometimes it's better for you not to get everything, or get everything so clearly, handed to you right away. It's better to think for yourself.
As soon as I know I'm going to do a part, the first thing I ask myself is: 'What happened between birth and page one of the script?' There's no end to what you can imagine or figure out for yourself about that... That's the foundation for me, no matter what approach I need to take.
Being an actor is to lie in the most honest way possible.
The character gives me something and I give him something.
I love props in movies in general-props have a power. I always place great importance on them. There's things that happen-there's movies where there's been a scarf, or a bandanna, that has its story, and it goes from one character to another, or a hat that has a story.
I end up having notebooks full of things, quotes, ideas, historical facts in this case, and even clothes, and books, and things, and then you put it in a big pile. The closer you get to shooting, you take this one away, you take that one away, and then the pile gets smaller and smaller. Then it's time to shoot, and you only have a few things, but they represent all the other things. You know what I mean? It's there if you need it, in your mind.

Salary (1)

Hidalgo (2004) $2,000,000

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