Viggo Mortensen is recognised as an artistic but quiet and introvert character and so I bet that not many people know that he is more than just a talented actor; in fact he is also a published poet, a jazz musician (released 3 CDs so far), photographer and painter!
Moreover, on doing a little research, I was utterly surprised to discover that our beloved Aragorn is also fluent in several languages!
Mortensen has a beautifully varied heritage; including Canadian origins on his Grandfather’s side; a Norwegian bloodline from his grandmother; a Danish father and an American mother.
This diverse mixture has meant that he has grown up influenced by different languages and what’s more, he also spent his childhood, between the ages of 2 and 11, living in South America – mainly Venezuela and Argentina – where he further broadened his cultural knowledge and improved his language abilities.
Mortensen’s Spanish undoubtedly improved when he studied in a, rather strict, boarding school in Argentina and then when his parents divorced he moved back to America where he completed his degree in Government Studies and Spanish.
After graduation Viggo moved to Denmark where, whilst dedicating his time to writing and poetry, he took on several jobs – including a position as a truck driver.
In 1980 Viggo also worked as translator for the Swedish hockey team during the Olympics in Lake placid, the game that is remembered as a ‘miracle’ between the Soviet Union and United States. A translator as well? He really is one of us!
This exploration of the languages in his life didn’t end when he started his acting career. Rather Viggo actually insists on acting language scenes as they should be done, in the mother tongue. He is actively interested in understanding languages and their characteristics. Before his film ‘Eastern Promises’ he spent some time in Russia researching his role in order to better understand his character and the Ukrainian and Russian languages. He also wanted to act in Elvish throughout the three ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies!
From all of this it is evident that Viggo Mortensen is a deeply talented character, distinguished by a profound rare charm and knowledge.
Still doubting his accreditation as language role model of the week after all this? Just to add an extra sparkle to this talented star, it is worth mentioning that he is politically active and also that he founded ‘Perceval Press’, the purpose of which is to help unknown artists and authors in publishing their works.