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Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen Films

Lord of the Rings


Hail to the King

Aragorn, King Elessar

Synopsis: This 12-page pictorial spread focuses on Viggo Mortensen in his role as Aragorn. In the interview, Viggo talks about his relationship with Uraeus, the horse who played Brego, working with the stunt team and training in swordplay, and his thoughts on the extended editions of the films. Unfortunately we were only able to find transcription for a piece of the article, but we have ordered a copy from the publisher and hope to complete it soon.

Source: Starburst #305, December 2003

I understand you bought Brego, the horse you used in The Lord of the Rings?

Yes, he became my friend, just like the other cast members. The guy who owned him wanted to sell him, so he said to me, 'I know you've gotten along well with this horse, and I'd like to see him in good hands, would you like to buy him?' I thought about it for a while, whether it would be practical or not, and finally said, 'Why not?'

It's interesting, because like James Stewart, who used the same horse in all his Westerns, you can use Brego again if you should ever do a Western. Of course, the whole subplot of Aragorn freeing Brego into the wild, got cut out of The Two Towers.

Yes, but it's back in the extended edition DVD. I'm very happy about that. Another scene, which is probably my favourite, is also back. It's a flashback to Denethor, Faramir and Boromir. You learn so much more about Faramir and about why he does the things he does in The Two Towers. And you meet Denethor, so it sets him up and you get to see what he's like before you see him in The Return of the King. It explains the relationships a lot more.

Barrie Osborne told us it was your idea to add the scene in the extended cut of The Fellowship of the Ring where you visit your mother's grave in Rivendell.

I guess it was—I can't remember now. A lot of little touches were added by everybody. Like the song about Beren and the Lady of Lothlorien that I sing that Frodo hears. In quick fashion that scene does a lot. It builds a connection with Arwen and the Elves, before you even see them, and it also shows that Frodo understands something of the Elfish language and that he has a curiosity and an intelligence. It says as much about Frodo and Arwen, as it does about Aragorn. But mostly it does something for the audience. All those little touches Peter came up with for the characters in the extended version, allowed the characters to show their full rein. I just hope they show them in a movie theatre.

New Line is planning to show the first two extended cuts versions in cinemas for a one-week engagement before the opening of The Return of the King.

That would be nice. To me, the extended versions of The Two Towers and The Fellowship of the Ring are the legitimate versions. If I were to watch them, I wouldn't even bother looking at the theatrical versions, because the extended versions are a more complete telling of the story.

Did you work with a stuntman on set for your scenes with the King of the Dead?

Yes, although a lot of that will be done in CGI. The Army of the Dead, and all that, so it was a case where we had to use our imagination. But I acted with a stuntman, Kirk Maxwell, who played the King of the Dead. He was the assistant sword-master to Bob Anderson. He laid the foundation for it, and he's who I acted against when I actually come face to face with the King of the Dead. In the final film, I don't know if he's the person who will be doing the actual movement, though.

It must have been nice having fencing master Bob Anderson coaching you for all your scenes involving swordplay.

Yes, he was very helpful. One of the first scenes I had to do was with my sword, so I had to learn very quickly, and the first thing Bob did was just hand me a sword when I arrived. I found that by doing something physical, it helped me integrate myself into the role faster. And not just the sword-fighting scenes, but the whole physicality of the part, in general. My baptism by fire in playing Aragorn was probably a good way to begin, because I was able to get some feeling for his movement and physical language before I ever uttered a single line of dialogue. So much of what I did in all three movies was non-verbal. How you get to know Aragorn is really through his gestures and reactions, much more than, say, Gandalf or Frodo, who are both much more verbal.

Yes, Aragorn is more like a Sergio Leone Western hero, and of course Peter Jackson likes to do extreme close-up shots right into the actor's faces. Did that bother you at all?

No. I find if I'm involved in the scene I'm doing, it doesn't matter to me if the camera is two inches away, or twenty feet away. You're still trying to play the scene and trying to figure out, from take to take, how you can improve it.