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Top 6 Viggo Mortensen Movies


Nice article by Helen Earnshaw at

Image Eric Simkins.
© Bleecker Street.
Viggo Mortensen is an actor who has enjoyed a career that has spanned over thirty years and seen him star in one of cinema's biggest franchises.

He returns to the big screen this week with new indie film Captain Fantastic, which sees him team up with filmmaker Matt Ross for the first time.

To celebrate the release of the film, we take a look at some of the actors best movies and roles

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

© New Line Productions Inc.
Mortensen may have been acting since 1984, but it was his role as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings that made his a global star - it will be the role that will forever be synonymous with.

You can't really imagine another actor in the role of Aragorn, but Mortensen was actually a very late replacement for Stuart Townsend and was pushed to take on the role by his young son.

But the actor made the role his own as the swashbuckling and heroic Aragorn, who sets out on a quest to protect a Hobbit that puts him on a path to face his own destiny.

The Fellowship of the Ring hit the big screen in 2001 and was followed by The Two Towers and Return of the King in 2002 and 2003. Each film surpassed the one before it and became the big movie event of the year.

Met with critical acclaim and huge box office success, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the most successful film series of all time; grossing over $2.9 billion at the global box office.

The Return of the King was the most successful film in the series and the only film in the trilogy to gross over $1 billion worldwide. The film also went on to scoop eleven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Peter Jackson.

Some believed that J. R. R. Tolkien's trilogy was unfilmable but Jackson and co made it one of the biggest movie events of all time. These movies remain some of my best cinema experiences.

A History of Violence (2005)

Courtesy of Sachie
Courtesy of Sachie.
© New Line Productions Inc.
Mortensen teamed up with director David Cronenberg for the first time in 2005 as he starred in crime thriller A History of Violence.

A History of Violence was based on the 1997 graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner and Vince Locke and was adapted for the big screen by Josh Olson. This was the first film for Cronenberg since Spider in 2002 and kicked off a partnership between the director and actor.

Mortensen takes on the role of Tom Stall, a mild-mannered man who becomes a local hero through an act of violence, which sets off repercussions that will shake his family to its very core as secrets and his past catch up with him.

A History of Violence is an engrossing film from start to finish as Cronenberg notches up the tension and the suspense frame by frame and moment by moment. This is a wonderful study of violence, heroism, and trying to leave your past behind.

Mortensen gives one of the best performances of his career as he showed off a gritty and dark side to himself as an actor. Together, Mortensen and Cronenberg crafted a wonderfully layered and complex character that you never feel you know or trust.

The movie was met with acclaim upon release with performances from Mortensen and William Hurt receiving widespread praise.

A History of Violence grossed $60.7 million at the box office - easily making back its $32 million budget. The film went on to pick up two Oscar nominations; Best Adapted Screenplay for Olson and Best Supporting Actor for Hurt.

Eastern Promises (2007)

© Focus Features.
Two years later, Mortensen reunited with Cronenberg for Eastern Promises, which was written by screenwriter Steven Knight.

For me, Eastern Promises sees Mortensen deliver and even better performance than in History of Violence, as the actor and director explored the violent world of the Russian Mafia in London.

The mysterious yet ruthless Nikolai (Mortensen) is a driver for one of London's most notorious organised crime families. The family itself is part of the Vory V Zakone criminal brotherhood. Headed by Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl). The family owns a restaurant to hide their brutal core. But their fortune is being pushed to the limit by Semyon's violent son Kirill (Vincent Cassel).

His carefully maintained existence is put in jeopardy when he meets midwife Anna (Naomi Watts) who is searching for the identity and family of a young girl who died during childbirth on Christmas Eve, by using a diary that survives her. By delving into the diary she unleashes the full fury of the Vory. Her search leads her to an underground sex trafficking business run by London's Russian crime community.

Once again, the movie sees Mortensen take on a role of a man who is not all that he seems. Anna and the audience make assumptions about Nikolai when we first meet him - only for Mortensen and Cronenberg to turn that on its head.

It is a powerful performance from Mortensen and he dominates every scene that he is in - even if he is just stood saying nothing. He is both a captivating and intimidating presence and you just cannot take your eyes off him.

Eastern Promises is a dark, gritty, and violent movie that shares a lot of very similar themes and ideas with A History of Violence.

Eastern Promises was an even bigger critical hit and Mortensen went on to receive his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance - losing out to Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood.

The Road (2009)

Image Macall Polay.
© 2929/Dimension Films/MGM.
In 2009, Mortensen teamed up with filmmaker John Hillcoat for the first time for The Road, which was a big screen adaptation of the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy.

The movie has been adapted by Joe Penhall and was the first film for Hillcoat since The Proposition back in 2005.

Starring Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee in the central roles, the movie follows an ailing father who defends his son as they travel through a post-apocalyptic world towards the sea.

The Road is a movie that could well be a little too bleak for some, but that does not stop it from being a truly haunting watch. It is set to such a desolate backdrop, it is hard to believe that this movie was set on location.

This is a powerful ad emotional movie and the images that Hillcoat create of this post-apocalyptic world and how far the human race has fallen, will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

It is another memorable performance from Mortensen, who is trying to do all he can to ensure the survival of his young son. It is the central relationship between Mortensen and Smit-McPhee that really is the emotional core of the film and packs the greatest punch.

The Road was another critical success for Mortensen and, for many, the movie was one of the best to hit the big screen in 2009. Sadly, it was a film that did struggle to find an audience upon release.

The Two Faces of January (2014)

Image Jack English.
© StudioCanal.
Mortensen returned to the big screen in 2014 as he starred in The Two Face of January, which was an adaptation of the 1964 book of the same name by Patricia Highsmith.

The Two Faces of January marked the feature film directorial debut of Hossein Amini, who is best known for his work as a screenwriter on the likes of Drive. As well as being in the director's chair, Amini also penned the film's screenplay.

Intrigue begins at the Parthenon when wealthy American tourists Chester MacFarland (Mortensen) and his young wife Collete (Kirsten Dunst) meet American expat Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a scammer working as a tour guide. Instead of becoming his latest marks, the two befriend him, but a murder at the couple's hotel puts all three on the run together and creates a precarious bond between them as the trio's allegiance is put to the test.

The Two Faces of January is an assured directorial debut from Amini who delivers secrets, lies, and intrigue with every twist and turn - creating tension and atmosphere along the way.

Mortensen and Isaac deliver wonderful performances as the pair try to outmanoeuvre one another as the law starts to catch up with them. It becomes a wonderful game of cat and mouse as they struggle trusting one another.

From start to finish, The Two Faces of January is tense, gripping, and intriguing and was one of the best thrillers to hit the big screen in 2014. This remains Armini's only directorial effort to date but I hope we do see him in the director's chair again sooner rather than later.

Captain Fantastic (2016)

© Bleecker Street.
Mortensen is back this week with his latest film Captain Fantastic, which sees him return to an indie project.

The movie is directed and written by Matt Ross as he returns to the director's chair for his first movie since28 Hotel Rooms back in 2012. This is only the second feature film of his career.

Mortensen leads a terrific cast as George MacKay, Steve Zahn, Frank Langella, Missi Pyle, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, and Nicholas Hamilton are all on board.

Deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, isolated from society, a devoted father (Mortensen) dedicates his life to transforming his six young children into extraordinary adults.

But when a tragedy strikes the family, they are forced to leave this self created paradise and begin a journey into the outside world that challenges his idea of what it means to be a parent and brings into question everything he's taught them.

Captain Fantastic is a movie that has played well on the festival circuit this year - screening at Sundance and Cannes - and it is set to be a film not to miss this weekend.

Captain Fantastic is released on September 9 in the U.K.


Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

Sky Greats are advertising Eastern Promises and A History of Violence back-to-back as a Cronenberg/Mortensen February treat in the UK. So is this a Quotable about those two great collaborative efforts? Er... no. It's about A Dangerous Method. Maybe it wasn't such a spectacular success, but Viggo's performance astonished critics. I mean, Tom Stall, Nikolai and.... Freud? Who would ever have thought it? It also gives me the chance to put one of my most favourite ever quotes back into context. That credit-card busting on-screen maganetism? Yup – it was Freud.

Viggo Mortensen is the champ. Hands down. Of all the "say what?" performances some of us first heard about at last fall's Toronto International Film Festival — and which characterized 2011 as a hugely surprising year for film — none of them surprised me more than Mortensen playing Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method."

Jeff Simon
Buffalo News
26 January 2012

This is Mortensen's third straight collaboration with Cronenberg following "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises," and the ease and rhythm from working together so often pay off in the effortless grace of Mortensen's portrayal. It is some of his finest film work ever.

Clint O'Connor
The Plain Dealer
25 January 2012

Almost serenading the audience with his Austrian accent, Mortensen is instantly Sigmund Freud without a shadow of a doubt.

Brad Brevet
Rope of Silicon
10 September 2011

...there is no denying that A Dangerous Method doesn't come alive until we get our asses some Viggo. Christoph Waltz was originally set to play Freud, but was forced to drop out. At which time Cronenberg turned to his current muse. I'm sure Waltz would've done some stellar things with the character, but hot damn, Viggo sizzles as Freud.... This is a Viggo you don't think of when you think of Viggo

Joshua Miller
21 October 2011

It was a stroke of inspiration to cast the virile, hyper-secure Mortensen as the godfather of neurosis. Puffing on a cigar, he makes Freud a charismatic control freak, a man all too eager to engage in dream analysis yet too much of a self-designed authority figure to put his own dreams up for dissection.

Owen Gleiberman
Enertainment Weekly
10 September 2011

It's possible that in lusting after Mortensen all these years, we've taken his talent for granted. Of course, we really didn't know how talented he was until he started working with Cronenberg. This is the best thing Mortensen's ever done. His slow, paunchy, hairy Freud has a cavalier authority and a capacity for drollery. He's also seductively wise in a way that makes both Fassbender and Knightley, as very good as they are, also seem uncharacteristically callow. I don't know where Mortensen found this physical and psychological heaviness, this expressive inexpressiveness, but now isn't the time to start a diet.

Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
23 December 2011

Mr. Mortensen again reveals his amazing skills of self-transformation...

Roderick Conway Morris
New York Times
6 September 2011

It is also marvelous to see Freud, that embattled colossus, restored to his human dimensions by Mr. Mortensen. His sly performance is so convincingly full of humor, warmth and vanity that it renders moot just about every other posthumous representation of the patriarch of psychoanalysis.

New York Times
22 November 2011

Even in a period film like this one — a picture that runs the heavy risk of being ponderous and stiff — he can slip himself into the scenery with a "Don't mind me, here in my Sigmund Freud getup" naturalness….

Stephanie Zacharek
2 September 2011

I was so taken with Mortensen's constantly alert and cunning eyes. He was always thinking, sometimes on a current that flows in opposite direction of his dialogue. It is a very effective performance, and Mortensen, one of the best actors working today, has shown us something new in his repertoire. It bodes well for his life as a middle-aged actor.

By Sheila OMalley
Capital New York
6 October 2011

Mortensen's buttoned-down and highly verbal Freud is something to behold — and also to listen to. The actor has been the quiet man of volcanic physical intensity in two previous Cronenberg films, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Here his tongue is more lethal than his fists, as when he tears into Jung for practising "second-rate mysticism and self-aggrandizing shamanism."

Peter Howell
Toronto Star
12 January 2012

Freud, played by the perpetual shape-shifter Viggo Mortensen, slinks around like a silent old Zen master.

by Matthew D'Abate
Your Beautiful New York
14 December 2011

Mortensen, in very much a supporting role, thrives superbly for his third Cronenberg running, summoning a peppery gravitas, and an eye-narrowing fearfulness, as the father of psychiatry might well, about patricidal impulses from his younger colleague.

Tim Robey
The Telegraph
9 February 2012

...the ever-flawless Viggo Mortensen.

Jesse Hawthorne Ficks
San Francisco Bay Guardian
26 September 2011

Viggo Mortensen has so much on-screen magnetism, he'll probably destroy the credit cards of anyone sitting in the first 10 rows.

Wallace Bain
Santa Cruz Sentinel
25 January 2012

You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © Hanway/Lago.

Viggo Mortensen in Empire magazine

Source: Empire.
Found By: Chrissie
Many thanks to Chrissie for these.

Here are scans of the article in the May issue of Empire magazine where Viggo discusses some of his movie roles:

Click to enlarge

Images © Bauer Consumer Media.

Viggo to present award on 9 March

Found By: Chrissie
Thanks to Chrissie for bringing us this exciting news!

Viggo Mortensen, Tatiana Maslany enlisted for Canadian Screen Awards

© New Line Productions Inc.
Hollywood star Viggo Mortensen and TV's Jason Priestley and Tatiana Maslany are among the famous faces set for the upcoming Canadian Screen Awards.

Organizers unveiled today a list of familiar names who will serve as presenters for the broadcast gala celebration of Canadian TV and film in March.

Mortensen will salute Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, who will receive the 2014 lifetime achievement award at this year's gala. The American actor has been a regular collaborator with the Toronto director, having starred in Cronenberg's recent films A Dangerous Method, Eastern Promises and A History of Violence.

© Images © New Line Productions, Inc.

Video: Viggo Mortensen & David Cronenberg | In Conversation | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2014

Source: YouTube.
Found By: Eriko
Many thanks to Eriko for bringing us this clip from TIFF.

One of Hollywood's most distinguished and versatile leading men, Viggo Mortensen is joined onstage by David Cronenberg to discuss their acclaimed collaborations on A History of Violence, A Dangerous Method, and Eastern Promises, which earned Mortensen an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Since his screen debut as a young Amish farmer in director Peter Weir's Witness, Viggo Mortensen's film career has been marked by a steady string of diverse performances. Critics have continually recognized his work in more than 40 films, including The Road, Appaloosa, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, A Walk on the Moon, Portrait of a Lady, Carlito's Way, The Indian Runner, The Reflecting Skin, and the Spanish-language features Alatriste, La Pistola de Mi Hermano, and Everybody Has a Plan. He joins us for a look back at his career highlights — including his acclaimed collaborations with Cronenberg on Eastern Promises, A History of Violence, and A Dangerous Method. Viggo Mortensen image credit: Sam Jones.

© Toronto International Film Festival.

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Last edited: 31 May 2023 15:42:13