Is Viggo Mortensen, Hollywood’s Most Versatile Star?

Who is Viggo Mortensen?

Viggo Mortensen is a Danish-American actor, producer, musician, photographer, poet, and painter. He was born on October 20, 1958, in New York City, USA, but spent a significant part of his childhood in Argentina, Denmark, and Venezuela due to his father’s work. Mortensen is best known for his role as Aragorn in “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels. However, he has also had a diverse and extensive acting career beyond that iconic role, appearing in numerous other films such as “Eastern Promises,” “A History of Violence,” “Captain Fantastic,” and “Green Book.” In addition to acting, Mortensen is multitalented and has pursued various artistic endeavors throughout his career.

Being most versatile star

Viggo Mortensen leads a dynamic life. Beyond his acting career, he delves into poetry, music, photography, and manages a small arthouse press. On its website, he shares timely insights gathered from global media, interspersed with aphorisms from esteemed thinkers. For instance, a recent update features a quote by Henry David Thoreau alongside an article addressing groundwater depletion: “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”

Questioning his path is a routine for Mortensen. Prior to embracing the role of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, he declined X-Men to avoid creative repetition. With three Oscar nominations under his belt, he’s portrayed memorable characters like Tom Stall in A History of Violence, the survivalist in The Road, and Tony “Lip” Vallelonga in Green Book.

His busyness extends to directing; currently, he’s promoting his second film, The Dead Don’t Hurt, a western where he serves as writer, composer, director, and lead actor. Additionally, Mortensen prioritizes Eureka, a project by Lisandro Alonso, where despite a brief appearance, he holds a pivotal role as a gun-slinging loner in a monochrome frontier tale within the film.

It’s a challenge to schedule an early morning phone interview with Mortensen, who resides part-time in Madrid with his partner, actor Ariadna Gil. However, once he connects, he graciously shares his time and provides thoughtful responses.

To grasp his connection to Eureka, familiarity with Jauja, their 2014 collaboration, proves beneficial. In Jauja, Mortensen portrayed Gunnar Dinesen, a Danish engineer in 19th-century Argentina, tasked with aiding the army in Patagonia’s harsh settlement. Similarly, in Eureka, Mortensen’s character seeks a daughter who resists being found, a parallel to his role in Jauja. Viilbjørk Malling Agger portrays the daughter in both films, prompting fans of Alonso’s work to ponder the significance, if any, of this casting choice.


Mortensen and Alonso’s relationship blossomed after a serendipitous encounter at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. “We hit it off, given my upbringing in Argentina until age 11,” explains Mortensen, whose Danish father and American mother relocated there when he was young to manage a poultry farm. “As it turned out, we shared common experiences and friends.”

One individual involved was poet Fabián Casas, who later penned the screenplay for Jauja and shares writing credits for Eureka with Alonso and Martín Caamaño. “I found it intriguing and collaborated to create this unique hybrid film that embodies both Danish and Argentine elements,” remarks Mortensen. When Alonso expressed interest in adding music but lacked funds, Mortensen stepped in, offering compositions from albums he had produced with former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Buckethead.

Mortensen’s role in Eureka, predominantly set on a Native American reservation in modern-day South Dakota, is more significant than initially perceived. He facilitated Alonso’s introduction to reservation residents, some of whom made their screen debuts in the film. Notably, Mortensen highlights Alaina Clifford, both a police officer and an impressive presence on-screen, portraying life patrolling desolate streets.

His connection with the Lakota people spans decades. Intrigued by early American history, Mortensen deepened his understanding during the 2004 western biopic Hidalgo. “I sought to comprehend their way of life, riding horses alongside them, eventually becoming part of a family and receiving a name in their language,” he recounts. “I was fortunate to establish bonds with them,” he reflects. “For understandable reasons, they exercise caution in allowing outsiders into their world.” The name bestowed upon him is Petayuhamani – “the one who carries the fire.”

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