Viggo Mortensen is a Danish-American actor who is also a painter, photographer, poet and anthropologist and who has written many books. While Mortensen is very much aware of folklore and mythology, he was not a fan of fantasy movies before working with Peter Jackson on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, because he felt they lacked attention to detail.
Speaking to The One Ring in 2001, Mortensen said; “The material is based on a kind of mythology that Tolkien borrowed from. Whether it be Norse mythology or Celtic or Finnish. These things to some degree I grew up with, was familiar with. And I wanted to do right by that. There is a mythological basis for this story. This is part of human beings, whether you are from Japan or Canada, there is a certain memory, a physical memory that people have of things.”
“Personally, when I watch fantasy movies, I don’t usually enjoy them because I find an appalling lack of attention to detail and gritty realism in them. What Pete did with this, he got the most fantastical shots and imagery and thought-provoking dialogue and visuals, but he coupled it with a really grounded vision. It was rough when it needed to be, and it was cold. And it was messy when it needed to be.”
Mortensen continued; “He shot a lot, no matter how extreme the conditions, he shot so many close-ups on all the characters. There was nowhere to hide in that sense. It didn’t matter if you were the smallest to the biggest characters, from the enemy to the fellowship, you see in their eyes what is going on and where their weaknesses and strengths are. It was like acting with people and being very close. We acted that way and he shot it that way. That’s why it’s different.”
The actors who played the characters in the fellowship are known to have bonded during the long time they spent in New Zealand filming the Lord of the Rings trilogy, to the extent that they got matching tattoos.
It’s been 20 years since the release of the original trilogy, but interest has not diminished, as proven by the release of the Rings of Power this year.