Viggo Mortensen achieved superstar status thanks to his role as Aragorn in the 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy but it's his uncompromising portrayals of characters in 'Eastern Promises' and 'A History of Violence' that makes him one of the best of his profession.
Viggo is the eldest son of Grace and Viggo P. Mortensen. His father, who farmed in Denmark, met his mother, a New Yorker, in Norway. They married and moved to New York where Viggo Jr. was born. The family then moved to South America where Viggo Senior managed chicken farms and ranches in Venezuela and Argentina. Two more sons were born, Charles and Walter, before the marriage grew increasingly unhappy.
When Viggo was seven, his parents sent him off to boarding school in Argentina. Then, at the age of eleven, his parents divorced and his mother took the children to New York. In 1976, Viggo graduated from high school and went on to St. Lawrence University in New York. After graduation, he moved to Denmark - driven by the need for a purpose in life. He began writing poetry and short stories while working in a variety of odd jobs. In 1982 he fell in love and followed his girlfriend back to New York, hoping for a long romance and a writing career. He got neither.
While in the US, Viggo found work as a waiter and began taking acting classes. Three years later, he made his film debut as a young Amish Farmer in Peter Weir's 'Witness'. He moved to Los Angeles in 1987 and secured a part in the movie 'Salvation!' He later married his co-star, Exene Cervenka. The couple had a son, Henry Mortensen, before they divorced after a decade of marriage.
Mortensen's major breakthrough came in 1999 with his casting as Aragorn in Peter Jackson's 'The Lord of the Rings' film trilogy (released in 2001, 2002 and 2003). Despite some initial reluctance to leave his son, he accepted the part and immediately began work on the project. The success of the trilogy made him a household name - a difficult consequence for this introspective and private actor.
In 2004, Mortensen 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. A year later, he appeared 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. This was followed in 2006, by the role of Captain Diego Alatriste in 'Alatriste', the most expensive Spanish-language film ever made.
He collaborated with Cronenburg again in the movie 'Eastern Promises' (2007), when he played the role of a scheming Russian gangster in London. Viggo’s role earned him the accolade of Best Performance by an Actor at the British Independent Film Awards. He was also nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actor category. His latest films include 'The Two Faces Of January' and 'Far From Men' (both 2014).