Viggo Mortensen has appeared in a lot of interesting films over the course of his career but his impact on popular culture is certainly linked to the definitive influence of Peter Jackson’s wildly popular The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The role solidified his status as a top actor, following which Mortensen graduated towards more critically acclaimed performances.
In The Lord of the Rings films, Mortensen starred as Aragorn, a Ranger who eventually discovers that he is actually the royal heir. Mortensen received a lot of praise for his portrayal of Aragorn, becoming one of the most important characters of the entire trilogy. He was even voted as one of the greatest characters in film history in a survey conducted by Empire.
While Mortensen was a huge fan of what Jackson achieved in the first film, he received a lot of criticism for his complaints about the final two additions of Jackson’s trilogy. He believed that the first film was the perfect adaptation because the use of real landscapes made it feel more natural as opposed to the heavy usage of CGI in the later additions.
“Peter was always a geek in terms of technology but, once he had the means to do it, and the evolution of the technology really took off, he never looked back,” Mortensen said in an interview. “In the first movie, yes, there’s Rivendell, and Mordor, but there’s sort of an organic quality to it, actors acting with each other, and real landscapes; it’s grittier.”
Mortensen had to defend his views in later interviews but he stood by his evaluation, insisting that there was a significant dip in the quality of the visual narrative after that first film. Despite these comments, the trilogy is still cited as one of the greatest adaptations of all time especially because of the ambition and scope of the work.
The actor claimed: “[Jackson] would have never been given the extra money to do those if the first one hadn’t been a huge success. The second and third ones would have been straight to video.” However, he did admit that he would never have gotten the opportunity to work with other pioneers such as David Cronenberg if the entire trilogy hadn’t been successful.
One of the most famous pieces of trivia about Mortensen that has been circulating around the internet for years now is how he deflected an actual knife during that famous battle scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. When it is usually posted, many claim that the stuntman threw the knife by mistake and the deflection was improvised.
However, a relative of a crew member who worked on the production revealed on Reddit that the throwing of the knife had been practised multiple times and Mortensen had dodged in most of those takes. According to the Reddit user, there was only one scene where Mortensen actually managed to deflect the real knife and it ended up being used in the film.
Watch the scene below.