Monday, June 20, 2011


Watched a movie this week, the 2008 English-German production of something titled Good. It stars Viggo Mortensen as a university literature professor in Berlin, the late 1930s. Nothing specific about that picture, but…

Those of us who enjoy watching movies have personal favorites among the top (or otherwise) faces that turn up with some frequency. In most cases it probably has little to do with reputation, awards or star power, but more to do with a particular look or personality that strikes a chord. Sometimes the lavish praise and accolades heaped upon a certain film actor leave one completely unmoved. Just don’t care in some cases, despite the winning of awards and starring in big films.

Viggo Mortensen has received a slew of nominations for his work in movies, and on a few occasions has come out the winner. But his being recognized for the ‘Best’ this or that doesn’t play any part in the fact that I always enjoy a movie he appears in. May not be the best story, maybe not too gripping, but considering the fifteen or more movies I have seen in which he played a part, there is always something about the actor’s persona that holds my attention. I am never reluctant to buy a ticket when Viggo Mortensen is in the cast.

He was born to a Danish father and American mother in Manhattan in 1958. He lived for several years of his childhood in South America where his father was a ranch manager. After graduation from university he moved for several years to Denmark and began writing poetry. In 1982 he returned to New York and began taking acting lessons. He landed a small part in the 1985 Harrison Ford picture, Witness and that work drew him to Los Angeles where he began to work with some regularity.

No doubt most remember the actor for his role of Aragon in the popular The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and reading his film biography those movies are treated as a watershed in his career. That all happened between 2001 and 2003 but he did some interesting work before that in Carlitto’s Way (1993), Crimson Tide (’95), G.I. Jane (’97) in which he and Demi Moore had a terrific down and dirty physical fight scene. One of my favorites was the ’98 A Perfect Murder, a remake of the earlier Hitchcock film, Dial M for Murder. He followed the three Lord of the Rings movies with Hidalgo, a thoroughly entertaining horse race movie, then A History of Violence and in 2007 Eastern Promises which drew some critical acclaim for his performance, including an Academy Award nomination.

Aside from his acting career, Mortensen is the owner of publishing company, Perceval Press and continues to write poetry in his spare time. As a jazz musician he has released three CDs, and has had exhibitions of his photography in New York galleries. In A Perfect Murder, playing the part of a painter, the large murals hanging in his studio were all his own work. An accomplished horseman, he did all his own stunt riding in both The Lord of the Rings and Hidalgo, and after the completion of each film bought the horses he had ridden during the filming. Mortensen speaks Spanish, Danish and French fluently, and says that he can handle Swedish and Norwegian with some degree of fluency. In 2010 he was knighted by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

“Be kind. It’s worthwhile to make an effort to learn about other people and figure out what you might have in common with them.” —Viggo Mortensen

1 comment:

  1. Acting, writing, painting, music. Easy to see the man is bursting with talent. Agree with you that there is something likeable about his screen persona--even when playing a bad guy. He commits fully to all the roles he does.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America