Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen

Infobox actor

caption = Mortensen at the premiere of "", December 1, 2003.
birthname = Viggo Peter Mortensen Jr.
birthdate = birth date and age|mf=yes|1958|10|20
birthplace = Watertown, New York, U.S.
yearsactive = 1984 - present
spouse = Exene Cervenka (1987-1998)
sagawards = Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture
2003 ""
awards = NBR Award for Best Cast
2003 ""

Viggo Peter Mortensen, Jr. (born October 20, 1958) is a Golden Globe- and Academy Award-nominated Danish American theater and movie actor, poet, musician, photographer and painter.

He is perhaps best known for his roles as Aragorn in Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" film trilogy, Frank T. Hopkins in "Hidalgo", David Shaw in "A Perfect Murder", Tom Stall in David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" and his Academy Award nominated role as Nikolai Luzhin in Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises".


Early life

Mortensen was born in New York City, New York. His American mother, Grace Gamble (née Atkinson), and Danish father, Viggo Peter Mortensen, Sr. (a farm manager who worked in business), met in Norway. [ [ Film Reference website] ] [ [ Viggo Mortensen gets nude for 'Eastern Promises' fight scene | | ] ] His maternal grandfather was from Canada. [ [ Rootsweb Celebrities website] ] His family moved to Venezuela, Argentina and Denmark, settling in Argentina, where he learned Spanish and became a San Lorenzo de Almagro [ético_San_Lorenzo_de_Almagro] fan, one of the biggest soccer teams in Argentina. His father managed chicken farms and ranches in Argentina.Pearlman, Cindy. [,SHO-Sunday-cindy09.article Chicago Sun-Times] , "Superstar Viggo's a serious soul at heart," 9 Sept, 2007] They remained there until Mortensen was age eleven, when his parents divorced and his mother moved back to New York. He moved with his father to Copenhagen, Denmark. Mortensen and his father eventually went back to the United States where Mortensen graduated from Watertown High School, Watertown, New York. After high school, he returned to Denmark, and became a truckdriver in Esbjerg, Denmark, before, again, returning to the United States to pursue an acting career. He attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, earning a bachelor's degree in Spanish. He chose that subject because he could get good grades without a lot of study, leaving him free to be in a lot of plays. At his commencement, he refused to wear an academic gown because they were made by sweatshop workers.Fact|date=January 2008 However, after the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, when he was granted an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, he did appear in the appropriate robes.

Acting career

After several years of experience in live theater, Mortensen made his first movie appearance playing an Amish farmer in Peter Weir's "Witness". (Mortensen had actually acted in two prior films—"Swing Shift" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo"—but his scenes in both of these films 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 Sir Ian McKellen, with whom Mortensen later co-starred in "The Lord of the Rings".

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", "", Sean Penn's "The Indian Runner", Brian DePalma's "Carlito's Way", Tony Scott's "Crimson Tide", Ridley Scott's "G.I. Jane", Rob Cohen's "Daylight", Tony Goldwyn's "A Walk on the Moon", Frank A. Cappello's "American Yakuza", Charles Robert Carner's "Vanishing Point" (remake), Philip Ridley's two films "The Reflecting Skin" and "The Passion of Darkly Noon", Andrew Davis's "A Perfect Murder", Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake of "Psycho", Betty Thomas's "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". [cite news |first = Stephen |last = Applebaum |title = Mortensen's battle scars |url = |work = BBC News |publisher = |date = 2002-12-05 |accessdate =]

Mortensen's major breakthrough came in 1999 with his casting as Aragorn in Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" film trilogy (released in 2001, 2002 and 2003). According to the Special Extended Edition DVD of "", Mortensen was a last-minute replacement for Stuart Townsend, and wouldn't have taken the part of Aragorn had it not been for his son's enthusiasm for the J. R. R. Tolkien trilogy. In the "Two Towers" DVD extras, the film's swordmaster Bob Anderson described Mortensen as "the best swordsman I've ever trained". Mortensen performed all of his own stunts, insisting it would look more authentic, and even injuries suffered on several stunts did not dampen his enthusiasm. At one point during shooting of the Two Towers, Orlando Bloom, Gimli's double and Mortensen all had fairly serious injuries, and during a shoot of them running in the mountains Peter Jackson referred to the three as "The walking wounded".

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 race for a massive 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", David Cronenberg relates that Mortensen is the only actor he'd come across who would come back from weekends with his family having bought items to use as props on the set.

In 2006, he starred as Captain Diego Alatriste in "Alatriste", the most expensive Spanish-language film ever made,Fact|date=December 2007 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." [ :: :: Reviews :: Eastern Promises] . Retrieved December 22, 2007.] Mortensen's performance in "Eastern Promises" resulted in him winning the Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film award from the British Independent Film Awards. [cite web | url= | title=British Independent Film Awards 2007 nominations | publisher=British Independent Film Awards | accessdate=2008-01-24] He also received an Academy Award nomination in the Best Actor category. [cite web | url= | title=80th Academy Awards nominations | publisher=Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences | accessdate=2008-01-22]

Perceval Press

With part of his earnings from "The Lord of the Rings", Mortensen founded the Perceval Press publishing house — named for 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 [] .

"Perceval Press" is also the home of Viggo's many personal artistic projects in the area of fine arts, photography, poetry, song and literature (see below).


Mortensen is also an author, with various books of poetry, photography and painting published. His bibliography includes:

* "Ten Last Night" - (1993), his first collection of poetry.

* "Recent Forgeries" - (1998), ISBN, 5th Edition, documents Viggo's first solo exhibition and includes a CD with music and spoken-word poetry. Introduction by Dennis Hopper.

* "Errant Vine" - (2000), limited edition booklet of an exhibit at the Robert Mann Gallery. Only about 300 were published at the time of the exhibition so it is a very rare book.

* "Hole in the Sun" - (2002, ISBN), color and black and white photographs of a back yard swimming pool.

* "SignLanguage" - (2002 ISBN), a catalog from an exhibition of his works, combining photographs, paintings and poetry into a multimedia diary of his time in New Zealand while filming "".

* "Coincidence of Memory" - (2002, ISBN Third Edition, in this book, the artist combines photographs, paintings and poems that cover his artistic output from 1978 to 2002.

* "Mo Te Upoko-o-te-ika/For Wellington" - (2003), ISBN, a book to accompany the joint exhibitions at Massey University and the Wellington City Gallery during the premiere of "".

* "45301" - (2003), ISBN, Abstract images, fragments and phrases from poems create this photography book. Many of the photographs were shot during travels to Morocco, Cuba and the northern plains of the United States.

* "Un hueco en el sol" - (2003), a small booklet was published to accompany the exhibition "Un hueco en el sol" at the Fototeca de Cuba in Havana. In Spanish.

* "Miyelo" - (2003), ISBN-X), a series of panoramic photographs of a Lakota Ghost Dance. It also tells about the events leading up to the massacre at Wounded Knee.

* "The Horse is Good" - (2004), ISBN, a photography book, partly shot during his work on the film "Hidalgo", about horses as partners, teachers and fellow travelers. Images from Morocco, South Dakota, Montana, California, Iceland, New Zealand, Denmark, Brazil, Argentina. This book reflects Mortensen's fondness for horses. In fact, he bought Uraeus, the horse who played Brego in "The Lord of the Rings" movies (Roheryn in the books), which is Aragorn's steed; as well as TJ, one of the horses who played Hidalgo. He also purchased the stallion that played Arwen's horse, a grey Andalusian stallion named Florian, and gave it to the stunt woman who rode the horse in place of Liv Tyler.

Visual arts and discography

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 the paintings of the artist he portrayed in "A Perfect Murder" are all his own.

Mortensen experiments with his poetry and music by mixing the two art forms. He has collaborated with guitarist Buckethead on 7 albums. 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 Viggo to initiate contact with Buckethead, the collaboration growing from there. [cite web |url=|title=Viggo & Buckethead", March 5, 2004, IGN Music|accessdate=2008-08-11] His discography includes: "Don't Tell Me What to Do", Intelligence Failure, "One Less Thing to Worry About", "One Man's Meat", "Live at Beyond Baroque", "The Other Parade", "This That and The Other", "Live at Beyond Baroque 2", "Pandemoniumfromamerica", "Please Tomorrow" and "At All".

His CD/DVD, "3 Fools April 4", documents the poetry readings given on April Fool's Day 2006 at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, California.

Mortensen's singing is featured on ' soundtrack — he sings "Aragorn's Coronation," the words by Tolkien but the music composed by Mortensen himself. In the extended DVD edition of the first "Lord of the Rings" movie, ' he sings the song "The Lay of Beren and Lúthien". His poems are written in English, Danish and Spanish.

Personal life

Mortensen has a son, Henry Mortensen, with ex-wife Exene Cervenka, singer of the punk band X. Henry and Viggo have done public father/son poetry reading together as recently as April 2006. Mortensen is fluent in English, Danish and Spanish, and conversant in Norwegian. He also speaks French, Italian and Swedish reasonably well.

Mortensen is an ice hockey fan, particularly of the Montreal Canadiens. He also loves soccer, and is a big fan of Argentine star Diego Maradona, Héctor "Bambino" Veira and both the Argentine and Danish national teams, as well as Argentine club San Lorenzo de Almagro. [ [ Interview with] Clarín es icon] In 1993, Mortensen went to Ireland during a break in shooting without the consent of the production company, to watch Denmark play in a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification match. He is also a fan of the New York Mets.

He has spoken out against militarism and U.S. foreign policy. In continuing with his opposition to the Bush administration's foreign policy he participated in a series of fundraisers for the Northern New York Congressional candidate from the Watertown, New York area, Bob Johnson, in September 2006. In January 2008, he publicly supported Dennis Kucinich for U.S. president, speaking alongside him in a number of public appearances. In Denmark, Mortensen is known for his support for the Freetown Christiania and criticism against the Danish participation in the Iraq war.

In Argentina he is known as "Guido" Mortensen, after San Lorenzo de Almagro's retired player and former coach, Héctor "Bambino" Veira refers to him.

Mortensen has owned property near Sandpoint, Idaho, since the mid-1980s and spends time there when not filming movies. [ [ "A Visit with Viggo. . . .", Sandpoint Magazine, Winter 2004 Edition] ]



External links

* [ Perceval Press] Viggo Mortensen's publishing house
* [ Charlie Rose] A discussion about "A History of Violence"

* [,_Viggo/ Viggo Mortensen] Open Directory: Viggo Mortensen - collection of links
* [ Viggo-Works] Main site about Viggo Mortensen - daily updated
* Spanish Interview on youtube []
* [ "Men's Vogue" profile on Viggo Mortensen]
* [ The Eye and the Hand] A French site dedicated to Viggo Mortensen's art

NAME= Mortensen, Viggo
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Mortensen, Viggo Peter, Jr.
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Golden Globe-award nominated American theater and movie actor, poet, musician, photographer and painter
DATE OF BIRTH= October 20, 1958
PLACE OF BIRTH= New York City, New York, USA

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