In Brief 1991-2003

King Hunk

Source: MSN Movies News

Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen deals with celebrity and becoming a sex symbol

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Forget the battle for Middle Earth: the most hotly debated subject of Lord of the Rings viewers - at least the female ones - is who's hotter: Viggo Mortensen or Orlando Bloom? At a press junket for the third film in the trilogy, The Return of the King, even male reporters chimed in, opining on whether or not they thought Orlando too "effeminate" and Viggo more "manly."

While there's been much talk in the press of Bloom's incredibly fast rise to fame, Mortensen's recent surge in popularity seems, in contrast, widely accepted. Yet before The Lord of the Rings, Mortensen was mostly known for playing supporting parts: the other suitor in A Perfect Murder, The Portrait of a Lady and A Walk on the Moon or the violence-prone characters in The Indian Runner, Boiling Point and Carlito's Way. Despite the 30-plus films on his resume, it was The Lord of the Rings that made Mortensen a household name.

"I have about as much say or control over that - or interest in it - as I do in whether you or anyone else thinks these movies are any good, or whether they did well or not, or connection to what Peter [Jackson] does in terms of editing," Mortensen says about his recent rise in popularity. "It's not something I have much say over or am interested in."

However, one bonus of his increased visibility is that it has brought more opportunities his way, such as the leading role in Disney's Hidalgo, an action/adventure film set in 1890 about a Pony Express courier who travels to Saudi Arabia to compete with his horse Hidalgo in a high stakes race around the world. The film is set to open March 5.

"That is a result that I'm aware of and happy about. Without The Fellowship of the Ring being such a huge success, I would have never been offered that role. I probably wouldn't even have gotten into the room to talk to the director about it," he laughs.

For anyone who's watched the extended DVD versions of The Lord of the Rings, Viggo comes across like the real-life incarnation of his character Aragorn; showing off a strong natural ability at swordplay and horsemanship and earning the respect of his peers - especially the stuntman who he wowed with his skills and, needless to say, the women.

Yet in person, sipping his Yerba Mate tea out of a traditional gourd cup and walking around the Four Season Hotel in his red socks, the 45-year-old actor, photographer, painter and published poet comes across as someone much more ... mellow. If he got a little lost in his character during the shooting of the film, then he was doing his job right, Mortensen says.

"I do it as much as I can, to inform myself, to be ready, as much as I can to be in the moment when I'm there; to serve the director, to serve the scene and, above all, to satisfy myself," he explains. "I mean if I don't satisfy myself, in the sense of believing that I've given it my all and put everything I could into it to help tell the story, then how can I expect others to be satisfied with what I did? I just had longer to do it in this one."

Still, it's clear that Mortensen has a deep affection for the character he spent the last four years in bringing to the screen.

"There is a humility to him and a concerted effort to look past the perceived differences that he might have with others. That sort of leader is the type of leader that I wish we had in this country and many other countries," says Mortensen. "I think that's a good role model to have."
Last edited: 13 September 2010 14:58:41