Though born in New York, Viggo Mortensen possesses the charisma and weariness of a lonely wanderer who’s traveled the great continents of the world only to finally return home. Indeed, he was once a truck driver in Norway and claims a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. He’s a poet, painter, photographer, an avid horseman, a composer, and student of various cultures. But it is as an actor in which Viggo is at his most passionate. And it shows – his Academy Award nomination for “Eastern Promises” is a symbolic gesture of appreciation to the 20-plus years Viggo has contributed to the art of acting.
After a few years of live theater performances in New York, Viggo graduated to screen in “Witness,” the 1985 Harrison Ford film in which Viggo plays an Irish farmer. Since then, Viggo would participate in over 40 productions on television and film. He thrived in his early career in small budget, character driven pieces. One of them is Sean Penn’s “The Indian Runner” in 1991, with Viggo as David Morse’s troubled brother, Frank. He also has a supporting role as Lalin in the Al Pacino tour-de-force, “Carlito’s Way,” in 1993. In the second half of the decade, Viggo inhabited such eclectic roles as Michael Douglas’s hired gun in “A Perfect Murder” to participating in Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho” remake in 1998.
Finally, at the age of 43, Viggo assumed the role of fan favorite Aragorn in “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” which he reprised in “The Two Towers” and the Best Picture winner “The Return of the King” in 2003. Suddenly, Viggo went from the reliable supporting character that paid his bills in the 90s – 27 projects in that decade alone – to heroic leading man, following the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy with “Hidalgo” in 2004. He became David Cronenberg’s actor of choice for “A History of Violence” and “Eastern Promises,” and during this time, Viggo branched out to work on his publishing company, his political activism, and his painting. Now 50, Viggo continues his lifelong exploration of new worlds and characters – including reinventing some real-life figures, particularly Edgar Allan Poe in the Sylvester Stallone biopic.
Viggo on the Web
Ultimate web resource guide for Viggo.
TV Guide: Viggo Mortensen
Recent photos, latest news and TV listings of Viggo.
Extended bio plus bibliography of Viggo’s non-acting works.
Bio, filmography, and over 100 pics of Viggo in action.
Devoted fan site with up-to-date news, links and plenty more.
Viggo’s own publishing company website.
Audio interview with Viggo and director David Cronenberg on “Eastern Promises.”
Underground Online Interview
Viggo on working with David Cronenberg in “A History of Violence.”
Combustible Celluloid Interview
Viggo chats about making “Hidalgo.”
Viggo on the Screen
He’s Moses in “Witness,” Eddie Trumbull in the “Red Tape” episode of “Miami Vice,” Tex in “Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III,” John W. Poe in “Young Guns II,” Johnny Faro in “Ruby Cairo,” Lt. Peter Ince in “Crimson Tide,” Lucifer in “The Prophecy,” Roy Nord in the Stallone actioner “Daylight,” and Eddie Boone in “28 Days.” Viggo takes a giant leap in terms of exposure as Aragorn in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, followed by “Hidalgo,” “A History of Violence,” “Alatriste,” and “Eastern Promises.”
Viggo can currently be seen in the long-delayed apocalyptic drama, "The Road." Though he doesn't have anything else in the works at the moment, he is rumored to appear in Xavier Gens' "Vanikoro" and the drama "A Wing and a Prayer."
On his approach to acting:
“I never quit trying to figure out new stuff and trying to add stuff, until it’s taken away from you to be edited.”
On “Lord of the Rings”:
“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.”