Viggo Mortensen

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Viggo Mortensen at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival

Viggo Peter Mortensen (born October 20, 1958 in Manhattan , New York City ) is a Danish - American actor , photographer , poet , painter and musician . He became known worldwide for his role as Aragorn in the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings . He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in 2008, 2017 and 2019 for his roles in Deadly Promises - Eastern Promises , Captain Fantastic - Once Wilderness and Back and Green Book - A Special Friendship .


Mortensen is the eldest of three sons of a Danish businessman and an American from New England .

Mortensen traveled a lot in his childhood and lived with his family in countries like Argentina , Venezuela , Denmark and Sweden . As a result, he is fluent in English, Spanish and Danish. He also speaks French and Italian and also understands Swedish and Norwegian. After his parents' divorce, Mortensen and his mother moved back to their old home in New York , where he successfully attended high school. Mortensen graduated from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, with degrees in Politics and Spanish when he was 22 . He then moved to Europe, where he kept himself afloat with various odd jobs. He lived in England , Spain and Denmark ( Copenhagen ), among others . After two years, Mortensen returned to the United States to become an actor.


Mortensen began his acting career with training at the Warren Robertson's Theater Workshop in New York City in 1982. After appearing in several plays, Mortensen moved to Los Angeles . He received the Dramalogue Critics Award for his role in Bent at the Cost Playhouse.

Mortensen made his screen debut as a young Amish farmer in Peter Weir's The Only Witness (1985). He then took part in various films such as Jane Campion's Portrait of a Lady with Nicole Kidman , A Perfect Murder with Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow , Daylight with Sylvester Stallone and Kevin Spacey's directorial debut Albino Alligator . His acting performance in Sean Penn's brother drama Indian Runner received particular attention .

In Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film adaptation, the role of Aragorn was originally cast by Stuart Townsend . After a few days of shooting, the producers found this unsuitable to embody the figure of a natural leader. Mortensen was brought to New Zealand at short notice to take on the role. One of his first shooting scenes was the fight with the Ringwraiths on the Wetterspitze . In training with the fencer Bob Anderson, he acquired the necessary fundamentals of sword fighting remarkably quickly , for which a training program that usually lasts for weeks is necessary.

The success of Lord of the Rings was followed by leading roles in Hidalgo - 3000 Miles to Fame (2004) and A History of Violence (2005). In 2007 he starred again in a film by David Cronenberg: In Deadly Promises - Eastern Promises , he plays a member of the Russian Mafia . For this he received a Golden Globe , a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination in the category of Best Actor .

Mortensen also appeared again in Appaloosa with Ed Harris and Renée Zellweger , with Harris also directing. In another Spanish historical production, Captain Alatriste, Mortensen played the mercenary Diego Alatriste , who struggled through various adventures in Spain in the 17th century. Template for the hitherto most expensive Spanish production are the five Alatriste - novels written by Arturo Pérez-Reverte .

Another nomination each for the Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA Award and the Screen Actors Guild Award brought Mortensen the lead role of a staunch dropout and head of the family in Matt Ross ' drama Captain Fantastic - Once a Wilderness and Back (2016). He was nominated again for these film prizes for the portrayal of Tony Lip in Peter Farrelly's road movie Green Book - A Special Friendship (2018).

In 2020 his directorial debut Falling was published, for which he also appeared as a screenwriter for the first time. He also took on the leading role and was also involved as a producer.

Literary and artistic activities

In 2002 Mortensen founded the small and independent publisher “Perceval Press”, which specializes in art, especially critical writings and poetry. Mortensen is concerned with the publication of texts, images or music recordings that do not correspond to the mainstream , but nevertheless deserve attention. Mortensen has published several books of his poems and photographs such as Ten Last Night (1993), Coincidence of Memory (2002) and The Horse is Good (2004).


Mortensen has dual citizenship of Denmark and the United States through his parents.

While filming Salvation Mortensen met the singer of the band X , Exene Cervenka . He was married to her from 1987 to 1997 and has a son from this marriage who took on an extra role in the trilogy The Lord of the Rings . He is also a western rider ; He liked the “main horse” TJ (in the film Hidalgo ) so much that he took it with him after the shoot. A few years earlier he bought the stallion Uraeus (in the film Brego ), which he rode in The Lord of the Rings . Since 2009 Viggo Mortensen has been in a relationship with the Spanish actress Ariadna Gil , with whom and whose son he lives in Madrid.

In 2010 Mortensen was knighted by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. As a bearer of the Order of Dannebrog , he is the fourth actor in the cast of Lord of the Rings - alongside Christopher Lee (Saruman), Ian McKellen (Gandalf) and Ian Holm (Bilbo) .

In 2017 he was accepted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), which awards the Oscars every year.

Filmography (selection)

Discography (selection)

  • 1994: Don't Tell Me What To Do
  • 1996: Stories of the Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses (Mortensen reads Poseidon, the God of the Ocean / Amphitrite )
  • 1997: One Less Thing to Worry About (with Buckethead on guitar and bass)
  • 1998: Recent Forgeries
  • 1998: New Yorker Out Loud Volume 2 (Mortensen reads On the Road Journals by Jack Kerouac )
  • 1999: One Man's Meat
  • 1999: The Other Parade (with Buckethead, among others)
  • 1999: Live at Beyond Baroque 1 (poems)
  • 2003: Pandemoniumfromamerica (with Elijah Wood and Billy Boyd, among others ) dedicated to Noam Chomsky
  • 2004: This That and The Other (compilation)
  • 2004: Please Tomorrow
  • 2004: Live at Beyond Baroque 2 (poems)
  • 2005: Intelligence Failure
  • 2006: 3 Fools April 4
  • 2007: Time waits for everyone
  • 2008: At all
  • 2011: Reunion
  • 2013: The Little Prince , audiobook, read by Mortensen, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • 2015: Under the weather , Audio CD


  • Ten last night. (1993), Poems.
  • Recent Forgeries. (1998), photographs, painting a. Poems.
  • Errant Vine. (2000), photographs, painting a. Poems, published for the exhibition of the same name in the Robert-Mann-Galerie (NY).
  • Hole in the Sun. (2002), photographs.
  • SignLanguage. (2002), photographs, paintings and poems.
  • Coincidence of Memory. (2002), photographs, paintings and poems.
  • Mo Te Upoko-o-te-ika / For Wellington. (2003), abstract photographs (blurring technique), taken in New Zealand, Denmark a. a.
  • 45301. (2003), Photographs and Poems.
  • Un hueco en el sol. (2003), booklet with photographs, published for the photo exhibition of the same name in Havana / Cuba.
  • Miyelo. (2003), mainly panorama photographs, etc. a. abstract recordings of ghost dances, taken while filming “Hidalgo”.
  • The horse is good. (2004), Photographs of Horses.
  • I forget you for ever. (2006), photographs and poems.
  • Linger. (2007), black and white photographs, a. a. Landscape shots of Spain, taken while shooting “Alatriste”.
  • Skovbo. (2008), photographs, published for the photo exhibition of the same name in Reykjavík / Iceland.
  • Canciones de Invierno / winter songs. (2010), photographs and poems, text in Spanish / English.

Awards (selection)

British Academy Film Award

Critics' Choice Movie Award

  • 2016 (Dec.) : Nomination for Best Actor in a Film Comedy (Captain Fantastic - Once Wilderness and Back)

Golden Globe Award

Independent Spirit Award

  • 2016: Nomination for Best Actor (Captain Fantastic - To the Wilderness and Back)


Palm Springs International Film Festival Award

  • 2017: Awarded the Variety Creative Impact in Acting Award (Captain Fantastic - Once Wilderness and Back)

Screen Actors Guild Award

  • 2017 : Nomination for Best Actor (Captain Fantastic - Once Wilderness and Back)
  • 2017: Nomination as a member of the best acting ensemble in a film (Captain Fantastic - once wilderness and back)
  • 2019 : Nomination for Best Actor (Green Book - A Special Friendship)

Festival Internacional de Cine de San Sebastián

  • 2020: Received the Donostia Award

Web links

Commons : Viggo Mortensen  - collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Press release Everyone has a plan . Fox, 2013, p. 14: "Born in Manhattan (New York, USA), he lived in Venezuela and, with his family, moved to Argentina, where he resided until he was 11 years old."
  2. ^ Rootsweb Celebrities website . October 20, 1958. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  3. Macreena A. Doyle: Viggo Mortensen '80 REMEMBERS . In: St. Lawrence Magazine . St. Lawrence University. 2003. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved August 20, 2014. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Andrew Stone, Carolyn Bain, Michael Booth, Fran Parnell: Lonely Planet Denmark . Lonely Planet , 2008, ISBN 978-1-74104-669-4 , Cinema, pp. 46 .
  5. Viggo Mortensen - 15 facts about the US actor . Stern, August 20, 2016.
  6. Viggo Mortensen knighted . ( Memento of the original from April 22, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Tolkien's World, April 19, 2010. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Class of 2017. accessed June 30, 2017.
  8. ^ Leo Barraclough: BAFTA Film Award Nominations: 'La La Land' Leads Race . In: Variety , January 9, 2017.
  9. Gregg Kilday: 'La La Land', 'Arrival', 'Moonlight' Top Critics' Choice Nominations . In: The Hollywood Reporter , December 1, 2016.
  10. Luca Celada: The 74th Golden Globe Nominations: La La Land, Moonlight And Emerging TV Talent . In:, December 12, 2016.
  11. ^ Moonlight and American Honey lead Film Independent Spirit awards nominations . In: The Guardian , November 22, 2016.
  12. Jenelle Riley: Viggo Mortensen on a Kudos Roll With 'Captain Fantastic' . In: Variety , January 3, 2017.
  13. Tracy Brown: Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations 2017: Complete list of nominees . In: Los Angeles Times , December 14, 2016.
  14. ^ San Sebastian Film Festival: Honorary Award for Mortensen. In: . June 22, 2020, accessed June 23, 2020 .