Lord of the Rings is one of those projects that has since gone down in film history as one of those rare cases of when all the bad luck seems to culminate in an amazing end product. While enough praise cannot be heaped on Peter Jackson and the creative team that made it happen, another key aspect to its success was, of course, the cast. In this specific case, we’re talking about Viggo Mortensen, the man who played Aragorn.
His start on the franchise wasn’t your typical one. In fact, production was already underway when he hopped on, and the only reason he was brought on was because the man they originally hired apparently wasn’t up to snuff. in a recent interview with Collider, he recounted his attempts at playing catch-up early on as he boarded the fast-moving train that was Lord of the Rings:
“Lord of the Rings was a case where I replaced an actor and they were already filming – not only filming, but they’d been rehearsing for months and learning all these skills they had to have for those movies – language skills, invented the Elvish, and swordplay, and horse riding, all this stuff. And I was kind of freaked out because I said yeah and I’m on the plane, on this 13 hour plane flight, and I’m looking at the book, which I had never read. But as I started looking at it, I was like, ‘Well, there’s something.’ There’s always something that you can draw on. I had read or been read to as a kid, stories about Vikings and Nordic sagas and stuff, and there was something there that was familiar, but it was still – you know, fortunately when I started doing that shoot it was physical stuff, not dialogue. So it was like sword fighting, so I could get my feet wet with that before I actually had to start speaking. It’s not ideal, but it seemed – my son was really into me doing it, and he was 11 at the time, and that kind of pushed me over the edge to say, ‘Yeah, okay.’ And obviously I’m glad I did it. It opened a lot of doors for me, and we had a lot of fun making those three movies. But it’s not ideal. I sometimes have said no because I’m not gonna be able to do justice to it.”
Given his experience, one can only imagine the words of wisdom he’d have for anyone else who will be playing Aragorn in Amazon Studio’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series. His advice had little to do with the acting and more to do with consuming content he can draw from, which is part of what Mortensen did early on, as stated above:
“I would say, not only read the book, you know, very thoroughly, that giant book of Lord of the Rings, but you could read some of the Nordic sagas. You’ll get some clues there as to where Tolkien got his information. Like, Sigurd the Dragon Slayer, and the Volsunga saga. Read that.”
You hear that, future Aragorn? Read that!
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