Real name: Viggo Peter Mortensen
Birthdate: October 20, 1958
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Viggo Peter Mortensen, Jr. (born October 20, 1958) is an American theater and movie actor, poet, musician, photographer and painter. He is known for his role as Aragorn in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Mortensen was born in New York City. His Danish father, Viggo Peter Mortensen, Sr. (a farm manager who worked in business), and American mother, Grace Gamble (née Atkinson), met in Norway. His maternal grandfather was Canadian. When he was two years old, he moved with his family to Argentina. They remained there until Viggo was age eleven, when his parents divorced and his mother moved back to New York. He moved with his father to Copenhagen, Denmark. Viggo and his father eventually went back to the United States where Viggo graduated from Watertown High School. After high school, he returned to Denmark, and became a truckdriver in Esbjerg, Denmark, before, again, returning to to the United States to pursue an acting career. He attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, earning a bachelor's degree in Spanish. He chose that subject because he could get good grades without a lot of study, leaving him free to be in a lot of plays. At his commencement, he refused to wear an academic gown because they were made by sweatshop workers. However, after the Lord of the Rings trilogy, when he was granted an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, he did appear in the appropriate robes.
Mortensen has a son, Henry Mortensen, with ex-wife Exene Cervenka of the band X. Henry and Viggo have done public father/son poetry reading together as recently as April 2006. Mortensen is fluent in English, Danish, and Spanish, and conversant in Norwegian. He also speaks French, Italian, and Swedish reasonably well. Mortensen has dual citizenship in the US and Denmark.
He has spoken out against militarism and U.S. foreign policy. In continuing with his opposition to the Bush administration's foreign policy he participated in a series of fundraisers for the Northern New York Congressional candidate from the Watertown, New York area, Bob Johnson, in September 2006. In Denmark Mortensen is known for his support for the Freetown Christiania and criticism against the Danish participation in the Iraq war.
Prior to playing Aragorn, Mortensen was probably best known for playing Master Chief John Urgayle in G.I. Jane.
In 2004, he starred as Frank Hopkins in Hidalgo, the story of an ex-army courier who travels to Arabia to compete with his horse, Hidalgo, in a dangerous race for a massive contest prize. In 2005, Mortensen starred in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. He was nominated for a Satellite Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for this role.
Mortensen experiments with his poetry and music by mixing the two art forms. He has collaborated with guitar virtuoso Buckethead on 6 albums. His discography includes: Don't Tell Me What to Do, Intelligence Failure, One Less Thing to Worry About, One Man's Meat, Live at Beyond Baroque, The Other Parade, This That and The Other, Live at Beyond Baroque 2, Pandemoniumfromamerica, and Please Tomorrow.
His latest CD/DVD, 3 Fools 4 April, documents the poetry readings given on April Fool's Day 2006 at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, California.