In Brief 1991-2003

Viggo Mortensen - Aragorn

Source: Total Film #72

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With the enigmatic Aragorn's heroic side rising to the surface in The Two Towers, Viggo Mortensen talks sword fighting, mythology and prima donnas...

You didn't start reading the books until after you got the part - in fact, when you were on the plane to New Zealand. What did you make of them?

I was like "What the hell is this?" But once I got past the Shire and the hobbits, I started to see that it wasn't totally unfamiliar. I could relate to a lot of it because of my own background - I'm from Celtic and Scandinavian families. Tolkien drew from everything, but especially Nordic mythology, and a lot of the characters and storylines were familiar to me.

Including Aragorn?

Yeah, he's a composite of many Nordic heroes. At the same time, he's a little bit more modern because he performs all these amazing deeds and has extra-human abilities - he understands the language of birds and bees, he can summon the dead, he has a long lifespan...He's capable and has learned different fighting styles and ways of doing things, but at the same time has this burden because he understands how his forefathers screwed up and succumbed to the temptation of the Ring. He has a fear that he won't be up for the task when he's expected to fulfil his destiny. [Laughs] I was relieved to see that he was afraid because it's like "Okay, we do have something in common."

So how does Aragorn change in The Two Towers?

He's more sure of himself, less brooding. He steps forward and says, "I will be a leader," whereas in the first film he's more anonymous.

The Two Towers has plenty of battle sequences. How did you get on with the swordplay?

I had this amazing fencing instructor, Bob Anderson, and the first thing I had to do was a sword fight. So I got there and spent a couple of days learning what should have taken weeks. There's even more sword fighting and battle scenes in The Two Towers, and Bob was like, "You're going to have to learn this very fast - there's no time to be easy on you." So they just started sending these waves of people at me, giving me some basic instructions and stuff. Bob was strict, but a very good teacher.

How do you look back on the whole Lord Of The Rings experience, including the reshoots?

New Zealand was incredible and there was a fantastic crew and a great team of actors. I mean, it was really roll-up-your-sleeves time - there was no room for prima donnas or the usual thing that you see on big movies. How people react to the films is, in a way, less important to me. I had my fun and I'm proud of what we did. If that's reflected in this film - the good, the bad, the hardships and the little victories along the way to making Middle-earth seem real - then it's been worth it.
Last edited: 17 December 2005 12:32:54