t appears Viggo Mortensen's time has finally come. Hot off the success of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Mortensen returns this Christmas as human warrior Aragorn/Strider in The Two Towers.
The road to the Ring, however, has been a long one. Mortensen made his feature film debut playing Alexander Godunov's Amish brother in Witness (1985). The suave, handsome actor has subsequently portrayed a wide variety of characters, often unapologetic bad boys, opposite some of Hollywood's most popular actors, including Sean Penn, Sylvester Stallone, Demi Moore, and Nicole Kidman.
Born in New York City on October 20, 1958, to an
American father and a Danish mother, Mortensen
| spent his first years
in Manhattan and the rest of his youth living in Argentina, Venezuela and
Denmark. Returning to Manhattan in the early '80s, he studied acting
at Warren Robertson's Theater Workshop and then embarked on a stage career
before moving to Los Angeles.
Following his debut in Witness, Mortensen found steady work in a number of diverse films, becoming a familiar but not instantly recognizable face to filmgoers. Some of his more memorable work came as a series of louts and villains in such films as The Indian Runner (1991), which cast him as Sean Penn's morally ambivalent brother, and in Carlito's Way (1993), in which he played a paraplegic ex-con who tries to snitch on Al Pacino.
Mortensen finally attained a greater measure of face recognition with his smoldering portrayal of one of Isabel Archer's (Nicole Kidman) suitors in Jane Campion's 1996 adaptation of The Portrait of a Lady. He then made another strong impression as Demi Moore's rough, tough, and buff training instructor in G.I. Jane (1997) and, the following year, he was one of the few redeeming features of A Perfect Murder, in which he supplied sexy menace (as well as his own art work) as Gwyneth Paltrow's murderous artist lover. His more romantic side was again in evidence in the romantic drama 28 Days (2000), in which he played recovering party girl Sandra Bullock's rehab honey.
Mortensen's career took a huge leap forward when he was asked to replace Irish actor Stuart Townsend in the pivotal role of Aragorn shortly after production had already begun on director Peter Jackson's eagerly anticipated film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
"Viggo embraced the character so completely it's difficult to imagine the two being separate now," Jackson has said about Mortensen.
As the second installment begins, Aragorn realizes that he must accept responsibility for uniting and leading the disparate tribes of men against the power of Sauron while dealing with the separation from his beloved elf princess, Arwen.
Here's what Viggo Mortensen had to say about being part of the trilogy.
Were you familiar with the books?
Did you have to think at all about not
doing the movies? After all, it was a commitment of almost two years.
What were some of the intangible rewards
for committing 18 months of your life to the project?
What do you think is the best part of your
job in general and what's the worst?
The role was very physical. Did you get
Are you being offered more action roles
Are you willing though?