Viggo Mortensen reveals which actor he replaced in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy: ‘I felt awkward’

Viggo Mortensen reveals which actor he replaced in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy: ‘I felt awkward’


It’s arduous to think about every other actor than Viggo Mortensen taking part in Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s beloved Lord of the Rings trilogy. But, in reality, one other actor was forged in the essential position of Middle Earth’s returning king when manufacturing began on the first Rings installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, which premiered in theaters twenty years in the past on Dec. 19, 2001. Not lengthy after taking pictures started, Jackson made the troublesome name to interchange his unique Aragorn with Mortensen — a clumsy scenario for everybody concerned. 

“I felt unprepared,” Mortensen tells Yahoo Entertainment now about getting into the position. “The other actors had been there for weeks and months in some cases preparing for the arduous task of shooting the whole trilogy. I also felt awkward, because I’d never been in a position of replacing another actor.” (Watch our video interview above.)

Jackson’s first selection for the half was Irish actor Stuart Townsend, who was 27 years outdated when he arrived in New Zealand to shoot Lord of the Rings in 1999. And, based on Mortensen, his age was the cause why Jackson realized he’d made in error in judgement. “I understood from the filmmakers that Stuart Townsend — who is a great actor, and was really perfect for the part — was too young, because he was the same age as the actors playing the Hobbits,” Mortensen explains. “They just needed someone who was a little bit older. It was just a bad luck situation.”

Viggo Mortensen in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,' which premiered in theaters 20 years ago. (©Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)

Viggo Mortensen in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which premiered in theaters 20 years in the past. (Photo: ©Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)

Interestingly, Mortensen — who was 41 at the time of his casting — wasn’t the first older actor that Jackson thought of. The filmmaker additionally reportedly approached Russell Crowe and Daniel Day-Lewis, each of whom turned the alternative down. When the supply got here Mortensen’s manner, he went forwards and backwards over whether or not to just accept it, however ultimately was persuaded into saying sure by his Middle Earth-loving son. The relaxation is film historical past as Fellowship of the Ring lit up the field workplace and turned The Lord of the Rings into the defining fantasy trilogy for a complete era of moviegoers. And Mortensen’s intensely grounded and appropriately weathered presence as Aragorn is one of the keys to the success of all three movies. 

While Mortensen might need felt unprepared when he first touched down in New Zealand, the actor made certain to rapidly catch up. The first sequence he shot was the Battle of Weathertop, and that required a crash course in swordplay. “The first thing I did when I landed was learn how to do the sword fighting required,” he remembers. “It was nice to do something physical first. And then the second thing I did was sitting in the corner of the pub in Bree smoking the pipe in the shadows. So those were both physical things that established the way the character moves and [his] physical presence. I was grateful that I wasn’t thrown right into a dialogue scene!” 

Mortensen in a scene from The Fellowship of the Ring (Photo: Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)

Mortensen in a scene from The Fellowship of the Ring. (Photo: Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)

Reflecting on the launch of Fellowship twenty years later, Mortensen says that his total Lord of the Rings expertise helped put together him to ultimately direct his personal characteristic movie, Falling, which opened in theaters earlier this 12 months. “Watching Peter Jackson and his team … solve problems everyday and inventing new ways to shoot things was like a big, wide-open, crazy film school,” he says. It was like being paid to go to high school and learn to clear up filmmaking issues. It was fantastic.” 

Funnily enough, Mortensen had a random, and very cordial, face-to-face meeting with Townsend years after the Rings trilogy was in the rearview. “I did run into Stuart briefly on the avenue and stated good day. He appeared like a really good man, and he’s clearly a really superb actor. It’s only one of these issues that occurs in our enterprise, you realize?” 

Elijah Wood as Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring (Photo: New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection)

Elijah Wood as Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring. (Photo: New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection)

Mortensen’s Rings co-star, Elijah Wood, had his own long, strange casting journey. During his 2020 Role Recall interview with Yahoo Entertainment, the actor revealed how he actively pursued the role of Frodo Baggins, the unlucky Hobbit tasked with bearing the all-powerful One Ring to Mount Doom. “I knew who Peter Jackson was as a result of I’d seen Heavenly Creatures, Brain Dead and The Frighteners and I beloved them,” Wood recalls. “I assumed, ‘Oh man, that is good. What an unbelievable option to direct these movies.'”

Wood’s excitement only grew after he was able to get an advanced look at the script. “It was saved below lock and key,” he says. “You sat in a room, learn the factor and that was it. The script blew my thoughts: I keep in mind driving dwelling nonetheless feeling like I used to be in Middle Earth. It had such energy over my creativeness that I keep in mind driving and imagining like orcs operating alongside my automotive!” 

With Jackson on an international scouting trip to assemble the super-sized Rings cast, Wood wasn’t able to meet with him solo. And he didn’t want to audition in a casting session alongside other actors equally eager to nab the part. So he decided to take make his own audition tape, even assembling his own Hobbit costume out of materials he rented from a Los Angeles costume store.

“My mates helped me out, and we shot some of it at my home after which went to the close by forest, which I feel will need to have been in Griffith Park or one thing to shoot two extra scenes from varied angles. Then we went to the Miramax places of work that evening and lower it collectively. I received out the tape the subsequent day and I took it to the casting workplace. That tape ended up getting FedExed to Pete.” 

While Wood’s video may have been a total DIY project, Jackson liked what he saw. The next time he came through L.A., the director met with the eager young actor one-on-one. “A pair of months later, my agent referred to as and stated, ‘Stay by the cellphone — you are gonna get a name. I picked up the cellphone … and Peter was like ‘Hi Elijah: do you wish to come to New Zealand and be Frodo?’ It was life altering.” 

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is presently streaming on HBO Max.

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