Viggo Mortensen Man of the Week
Author: unknown
Date: 28 Jun '04

why we like him?
The rugged and individualistic Viggo Mortensen proves that being an artist doesn't automatically make you a wimp. Few men could reconcile writing poetry with clobbering orcs, but somehow Mortensen pulls it off with ease.

why is he famous?
Viggo Mortensen, a 20-year screen veteran, plays Aragorn, the future king of Gondor, in the blockbuster The Lord of the Rings trilogy; he also starred in Hidalgo (2004). Yet Mortensen is also known for his poetry and photography, which predate his movie stardom.

overall rating: 88
Viggo Mortensen was born in New York City, but grew up in South America. After returning to the States for high school and college, Mortensen lived in Denmark, trying to find himself while working a variety of odd jobs.Eventually, Mortensen returned to America (for a second time), settled on acting, and quickly landed an important role in 1985's romantic thriller, Witness. Steady, though largely unnoticed, work followed in 1990s cinema, until Mortensen was cast to play Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, making him a genuine, though reluctant, star and sex symbol. While most famous for his acting, the solitary Mortensen is, in fact, accomplished in many arts. He has published two volumes of poetry (and is working on a third), has recorded three jazz albums, and is a noted painter and photographer.

personality & talent: 90
Viggo Mortensen isn't particularly gregarious; instead, he's introspective, reserved and rather private. But that doesn't mean he isn't expressive or thoughtful -- he simply prefers to express himself through his artistic endeavors. Above all, Mortensen is dedicated and focused, whether it's getting so under the skin of his characters that he won't be aware of what's going on around him, or making sure that he spends Halloween with his son (it's a tradition) by getting that day off written into all his contracts. When it comes to talent, Mortensen is a jack of all arts, if you will. His first interest was writing and he still writes poetry in his spare time. He's an accomplished horseman, a noted painter and photographer, and even a jazz musician. Oh yeah, he's also an actor -- you just might have caught him in that multi-Oscar winning LOTR thing everyone's been talking about.

woman magnetism: 87
Currently in his mid-40s, there's little doubt that Viggo Mortensen still has the kind of charm that makes him hard for women to resist. In 2002, he made the list of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" list. In addition to English, Mortensen also speaks fluent Spanish and Danish, giving him an added edge with the ladies. Still, Mortensen looks at the recent female attention that he's received from The Lord of the Rings and other projects from a detached perspective. "It's not gonna last forever," he observes, "and I guess one ought to say 'thank you' or accept a compliment. It's not such an oppressive thing, really. It's strange."

accomplishments & fame: 88
Viggo Mortensen has much to be proud of. Not only has he climbed to the top of the Hollywood heap, he's had a variety of accomplishments, including starting his own publishing house, exhibiting his photographs, and recording a number of jazz CDs. He's even entitled to a degree from the university of hard knocks, having worked a variety of jobs, from truck driver to waiter, in his youth. Despite his greater fame in recent years, Viggo Mortensen isn't quite at the point of superstar status. His name, even now, is not universally known, despite his impressive film career, which spans nearly two decades. Yet people know him when they see him, and he's the lone star of movies now, like Hidalgo (2004) and Alatriste (2005). So maybe Mortensen's time has finally come.

coolness factor: 85
Viggo Mortensen is as cool as they come. During the filming of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, for example, he broke a tooth and two toes during the fight scenes; after shooting on The Lord of the Rings and Hildalgo wrapped, he bought the horses that he rode in those films. Mortensen, obviously, is the real deal. With such tenacity, Mortensen has a knack for playing rough and tumble characters. From gung-ho military types in movies like Crimson Tide and G.I. Jane, to Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, Mortensen excels at being cool -- with only enough sensitivity thrown in to prove that the characters he plays are well-rounded people. And if that's not cool enough, he's got his own action figure.

personal style: 84
Viggo Mortensen's style is kind of rugged yet laid-back. Almost invariably, he can be seen in a button-down shirt with an open collar and a pair of jeans -- like the reincarnation of the Marlboro Man. For colder weather, though, he'll wear a turtleneck or fur-collared jacket. In short, Mortensen blends American and Scandinavian elements to create a unique look. Another trademark is Mortensen's seemingly perpetual five o'clock shadow. While he certainly is clean-shaven when need be, he often keeps the scruffy look he cultivated with characters like Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, and Mortensen is hard to recognize without a good dusting of manly stubble.

Viggo Peter Mortensen, the eldest son of Viggo and Grace Mortensen, was born in New York City, on October 20, 1958. When he was 2 years old, Viggo moved to South America with his Danish father and American mother, and soon, two more sons, Charles and Walter, were born. At age 7, young Viggo was sent to boarding school in Argentina, but left four years later when his parents divorced and Grace moved with her children back to New York.

Mortensen went to Watertown High School in the early 1970s, excelling both academically and athletically. After that, he attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, where he earned a degree in 1980. But Mortensen was in need of purpose, and he moved to Denmark where he spent time working odd jobs like truck driver, dock worker, and even flower seller -- although he began to write poetry and short stories in his spare time.

In 1982, Mortensen moved back to New York, hoping to find satisfaction and success as a writer. Instead, he was forced to wait tables and tend bar, and he began to take acting classes at Warren Robertson's Theatre Workshop for the next two years. In 1985, Mortensen debuted in Peter Weir's Witness, playing a young Amish farmer. In 1987, Mortensen made the inevitable move to Los Angeles. He appeared in Salvation! that same year and married his co-star, Exene Cervenka. Their son, Henry, was born in 1988.

Meanwhile, Mortensen continued to work steadily, if under the radar, throughout the '90s. His credits include Carlito's Way (1993), Crimson Tide (1995), The Portrait of a Lady (1996), Daylight (1996), G.I. Jane (1997), A Perfect Murder (1998), and the remake of Psycho (1998). Mortensen also published two books of poetry, and exhibited his photographs and paintings (some of which even appeared in A Perfect Murder) during this time. Yet his personal life was less successful: after 10 years of marriage, Mortensen and Exene Cervenka divorced in 1997.

The next step in Mortensen's career came in 2000. After he starred alongside Sandra Bullock in 28 Days, he was picked to replace actor Stuart Townsend in the role of Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. At first, Mortensen was hesitant about taking over from someone else, but at the insistence of his son Henry, who is a fan of the books, Mortensen accepted. He went on to appear in all three films, The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003), and became a star in his own right. He moved on to star in Hidalgo (2004), and took the title roles in Alatriste and A History of Violence (both in 2005). Despite his dramatically increased fame, Mortensen, who is rather introspective and private, continues with his other projects. He founded Perceval Press in 2002, released three jazz CDs, and is an accomplished equestrian. He visits Denmark every few months, and tries to spend as much time as he can with his teenaged son.

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