What do we really know about our heroes? And where do we find our heroes? What do they embody for us? Viggo Mortensen never thought he would be one of those heroes. He never dreamed about reaching the Aragorn heights of fame, neither does he cling on that at any costs.
Viggo Mortensen appears to be the perfect artist. Modest and low profile, Viggo Mortensen came from underground of celebrity and now he’s riding with the big horses. But he assures us that all that will soon fade. (continue reading Viggo Mortensen’s story and check out the images and the video right after the jump! You can click here to see the gallery!)
Viggo Peter Mortensen Jr., the great Dane, as he was often called by magazines over the years (post LotR, to be more specific, before that, anyone hardly gave the time of day to a dreamy Viggo) was born in 1958. October 20, to be more exact – and that makes him a Libra in the Tropical Zodiac. He was born in New York but moved at only 2 years old, with his American mother (Grace Gamble) and Danish father (Viggo Peter Mortensen) in Venezuela, then followed Denmark and Argentina. Due to his international childhood, Viggo is now fluent in Danish, English, French and Spanish, also he’s reasonably loquacious in Norwegian, Italian, Catalan and Swedish.
When he was 7, Viggo was sent to very strict Argentinean Boarding School (while his father was managing chicken farms and ranches in Argentina and Venezuela) but at 11 he moved back with his mother and his two younger brothers (Charles and Walter) back to New York (though some reports claim that he had moved with his father in Denmark). His parents marriage was over. But that didn’t get in the way of Viggo being brilliant in school, both academically and athletically (it was back then that Viggo discovered his passion for photography and got his lip scarf – reportedly when he was 17, in an incident with “a fist and a barbed wire fence”). He graduated high school and further more he attended St Lawrence University from NY where he earned a BA in Government and Spanish. After graduation (where he refused to wear the academic gown because it was unethically made by sweatshop workers) he returned to Denmark looking for a purpose in life. There, inbetween hard knock jobs he began writing poems and essays while spending wonderful days at his grandfather’s farm.
Following his love interest at the time, Viggo got back to New York where he became a poetry writing waiter appearing also in small parts in various plays while attending the Warren Robertson Acting Workshop (for two years). In 1987 he moved to LA and appeared in Salvation!: Have You Said Your Prayers Today?. There he met Exene Cervenka, his costar who became his wife and mother of his only child, a boy, Henry Mortensen. Eleven years later, just like his parents, Viggo and Exene divorced (though the actual marriage ended after only 3 years, the paperwork wasn’t final until years later). He’s very close to his son, however, being the very responsible of him accepting the Lord of the Rings part – Henry was a big fan of the books and he convinced his father to accept the role he was being offered, against him vacillating and not knowing anything about Lord of the Rings.
After years of indie plays and movies, less acknowledged Hollywood flicks, Viggo reached stardomness in 1999 through Aragorn, role that was first attributed to Stuart Townsed (who quit the project). After that followed Hidalgo, A History of Violence, Alatriste, Eastern Promises, The Road. All received positive accolades both from the critics and the public. Everybody loves Viggo!
What you may have not known about Viggo Mortensen is that his artsy self is in no way limited by acting. Throughout his movie making career, he continued writing poetry and essays, taking photographs, painting and composing or playing music. He seems to be a very gifted individual, though dreamy and unconventional. In 2002, Viggo and his partner, Pilar Perez, started Perceval Press, a publishing company inclined towards talented individuals (he even counts himself amongst them) who do not receive much attention from other publishing houses. He was called the “Indie Publishing Mogul” (by the NY Times) since he’s extremely careful about the quality and the layout of his Perceval Press prints, using only high-quality materials and procedures.
His published books, from Ten Last Night (his very first collection of poetry, 1993) to his recent collections of photographs Skovbo and Sadanset , his abstract paintings (which often have fragments of his own poetry embedded in the paint work) are his artistic experiments, so is his music (he released 14 albums until now, so he’s pretty stubborn about it) make their way into his acting. He was seen painting walls in A Perfect Murded. That’s because he actually did the paintings himself. Also he sung Aragorn’s Coronation song in the Return of the King and The Lay of Beren and Luthien from The Fellowship of the Ring. He’s not a stranger to blogging, you can read an article written by mr Viggo Mortensen himself at the Huffpost.
But Viggo Mortensen is more than just an artsy, talented modest guy! He’s also a fervent sport supporter: he’s a hockey fan (Montréal Canadiens), he loves soccer (San Lorenzo de Almagro, an Argentine club, the Argentine and Danish national teams), he has a soft spot for the New York Mets and Collingwood Magpies, an Australian Football club, and for Diego Maradona. All that and more: his LotR sword trainer said he was the best man he ever trained so far, Mortensen is an accomplished horseman who appreciates the well done work and the authenticity. That led to many many bruises during the LotR filming but also to the worldwide appreciation of his talent and energy.
There’s no standard to contain Viggo Mortensen’s ways. He diluted his art in so many directions yet he has lost no percentage from the high artsy concentration pouring down his veins. Included in many “most beautiful” “most intriguing” “hottest” lists, Viggo isn’t one to get carried away by the feminine attention flying in his direction. Also he isn’t an easy code to decipher so that runs both ways: women love him for being mysterious and men appreciate him for keeping it real with such dedication. While leaving a very un-shallow impression on his fellow mortals, Viggo seems to lead a simple existence, governed by simple laws. His justifications can leave one pretty defenseless. Take one of his tattoos, for instance:
“When Henry was little and he first started to write, he wanted to write H’s everywhere, all over my arms… It was either that or the wall, so I said, ‘Go ahead.’ One day he put one right there on my wrist and it was beautiful and I thought it would be a nice memory to have… I went right down to a tattoo parlor on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and had a guy tattoo over it.”