The Actor Spotlight: Viggo Mortensen

21 Apr

You know him as Aragorn, but Viggo Mortensen is much more than that. He is a chameleon. Whether he is playing an unassuming diner owner, a Russian hitman, or Satan, Viggo Mortensen is one of today’s top actors around. Here’s Viggo Mortensen’s current top ten films on Flickchart:

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

His third take playing Aragorn is also his highest-ranking film on Flickchart and one of the most celebrated films in Academy Awards history taking home 11 Oscars. Return of the King saw the full-scale evolution of Aragorn from ranger to king. His confidence, present in the other two films, seems lost, but he is convinced to lead by his elfen-lover Arwen. This is Peter Jackson‘s finest of the series and is supported by one of the most compelling performances by an actor in a fantasy film to date.

  • ranked #22 of all-time
  • ranked 503,363 times
  • 875 have it at #1
  • 9737 have it in their top 20

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

‘Fellowship’ saw Aragorn’s modest beginnings put to the test as a warrior with untapped potential finally recognized his place in Middle Earth. He is the vigilant fighter that foreseeably Frodo and Sam could not get on without. Viggo Mortensen really threw himself into this role and with each swing of his sword you truly believe Viggo could have taken on legions of orcs just for the sheer challenge.

  • ranked #23 of all-time
  • ranked 516,550 times
  • 766 have it at #1
  • 10,026 have it in their Top 20

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

With Merry and Pippin in the hands of Orcs, Aragorn must rescue them at all costs. While the first ‘Rings‘ films made the hobbits much of the focus, Aragorn took over The Two Towers and shifted the film’s focus from whimsy to compelling epic. The extra focus on Aragorn only better served the audience as his role expanded even more in Return of the King.

  • ranked #32 of all-time
  • ranked 483,681 times
  • 592 have it at #1
  • 8800 have it in their Top 20

History of Violence

Unassuming local Tom Stall inadvertently commits an act of heroism and sends shock waves throughout his community when the truth that comes to light isn’t as it seems. When a mobster (Ed Harris) comes through and starts posing questions about Tom’s ability to save the day, suddenly everything about Tom comes into question.

  • ranked #329 of all-time
  • ranked 222,453 times
  • 69 have it at #1
  • 1829 have it in their top 20

Eastern Promises

Mortensen’s second team-up with director David Cronenberg is arguably his best performance to date which was recognized with his first Oscar nomination. His role as Nikolai was his darkest and most rewarding as a man who kills efficiently and quietly. His loyalty is not to be tested – even if it means killing a nurse who is trying to find out why a child is orphaned.

  • ranked #332 of all-time
  • ranked 109,993 times
  • 11 have it at #1
  • 359 have it in their top 20

The Road

In this film Mortensen plays a broken man steering his son through the treacherous remains of what once was the United States of America. His performance as The Man breaks your heart and fills it back up again as he tries to salvage any goodness left in his son’s heart after the apocalypse that has left them wandering the country looking for hope.

  • ranked #602 of all-time
  • ranked 12,610 times
  • 0 have it at #1
  • 7 have it in their top 20

Carlito’s Way

As Lalin, the wheel-chair confined friend of Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino), he presents a lesson to be learned in a film that is full of them.

  • ranked #700 of all-time
  • ranked 72,871 times
  • 22 have it at #1
  • 403 have i in their top 20


Witness marked the first occasion when scenes featuring Mr. Mortensen’s were not cut from the film. His role as Moses Hochleitner is an earnest one, and although he is 26 his character’s wide-smile and exuberance make him feel much younger.

  • ranked #744 of all-time
  • ranked 39,605 times
  • 1 has it at #1
  • 54 have it in their top 20

Crimson Tide

Trapped in the sea with no transmission to the outside world, Mortensen’s Lt. Ince must make the decision to launch the nuclear missiles aboard the U.S.S. Alabama. Making your presence known in the midst of two acting titans (Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington) is no easy task, but Mortensen’s tension riddled scenes are handled admirably.

  • ranked #1063 of all-time
  • ranked 35,088 times
  • 1 has it at #1
  • 47 have it in their top 20

The Prophecy

Very few actors can convincingly play the Prince of Darkness. Jack Nicholson is one, and Viggo is the other. Mortensen plays the devil with a malicious glee that can only be seen in psych wards.

  • ranked #1475 of all-time
  • ranked 5,347 times
  • 0 have it at #1
  • 6 have it in their top 20
  • Travis McClain

    I know I’m in the minority, but The Two Towers was my favorite Lord of the Rings movie. The Fellowship of the Ring gets lots of love, but I found it an overlong introduction; similarly, I found Return of the King a somewhat overlong conclusion. But man, that middle chapter was genuinely epic and I loved it.

    That said,of the Mortensen performances I’ve seen I’d have to go with History of Violence. The character himself is rather obvious within the story, but there are lots of nuances and subtleties to Mortensen’s performance that make Tom compelling and fascinating.


    When I first saw the movie, I was genuinely thrown off wondering if Tom had, in fact, been mistaken for his former self. Mortensen played the “Who, me?” bit to perfection. He gradually reveals himself not just to the other characters, but to us in the audience. It’s brilliantly handled, and it’s very easy to imagine the role in the hands of a less thoughtful actor bringing down the entire movie.

    Also, his two sex scenes with Maria Bello are among the hottest I’ve ever seen on screen. That was some serious intensity!

  • Colin Biggs

    His other film with Cronenberg is my favorite performance to speak of. Had Daniel Day-Lewis not came out in ‘There Will Be Blood’ that year Mr. Mortensen would have a Best Actor Oscar.

  • Nigel Druitt

    I like Fellowship the best, so between the three of us, they’re all represented. :)

    Meanwhile, there are a couple of these movies I haven’t seen (and it’s been so long since I saw Crimson Tide, I don’t even remember Viggo being in it), but it is The Road that I can’t believe I haven’t seen yet. Really high on my “Want to See” list…

  • Fitz


    It’s a hard watch, but a worthwhile one.

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  • Nick Pilney

    Man, History of Violence and Eastern Promises rated that low overall? I absolutely LOVED those movies! He was fantastic in both of them. But that didn’t surprise me, because he just clearly puts himself so well into any role. I’d have loved to see him cast as Roland in the upcoming “Gunslinger”, but alas…

  • Guest

    Man, History of Violence and Eastern Promises rated that low overall? I absolutely LOVED those movies! He was fantastic in both of them. But that didn’t surprise me, because he just clearly puts himself so well into any role. I’d have loved to see him cast as Roland in the upcoming “Gunslinger”, but alas…