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Actor Viggo Mortensen

We talk with Viggo Mortensen – Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings – about his new role as Sigmund Freud.

Actor Viggo Mortensen speaks at the Matadero arts centre Madrid Monday Oct. 31, 2011. (AP

Actor Viggo Mortensen speaks at the Matadero arts centre Madrid Monday Oct. 31, 2011. (AP)

Actor Viggo Mortensen makes a singular impression on screen. As sword-wielding Strider –Aragorn – in Lord of the Rings. As bewitching lover in A Walk on the Moon. As Russian gangster in Eastern Promises. As horseman in Hidalgo. As Sigmund Freud in the new A Dangerous Method.

He’s tough but tender. Dangerous, and something indefinable. Maybe it’s the Danish daddy. The school years in Argentina. The sidelines in poetry and painting. The outsider sensibility. The politics of Kucinich and Cindy Sheehan.

This hour, On Point: a conversation with the singular Viggo Mortensen.

-Tom Ashbrook


Viggo Mortensen, an actor, his latest role is as Dr. Sigmund Freud in the film “A Dangerous Method.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times “”A Dangerous Method,” the intellectually stimulating look at the formative days of psychoanalysis, presents Viggo Mortensen in a transformative performance as Sigmund Freud, Michael Fassbender as his restrained protégé and rival, Carl Jung, and a bold Keira Knightley as the patient-turned-practitioner who came between them. But it was almost a Julia Roberts movie.”

San Francisco Chronicle “As this is a David Cronenberg film, it’s probably intentional that the three principals, Jung, Freud and the patient, seem borderline insane. Freud (Viggo Mortensen) is obsessed with sex. Jung (Michael Fassbender) has an extramarital affair with a defenseless patient. (His rich wife buys him a sailboat … and so he takes his mistress on the boat for trysts.) And what can we say for Keira Knightley, who begins the movie spastic and screaming and then soon announces her plans to become a psychiatrist? She can give her patients crazy lessons.”

New York Times Magazine “Mortensen’s combination of cheekbones and limpid-eyed sincerity has tended to inspire a slightly awestruck tone in journalists over the years. Some of their more breathless accounts of his chilled-out, barefoot demeanor have come perilously close to making him sound a bit of a pill: a parody of the soulful gypsy artiste, all flared nostrils and rippling Kant quotations. ”

Video: ‘A Dangerous Method’ Trailer

This video is the official trailer of the new David Cronenberg film, ‘A Danerous Method’ about doctors Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Viggo Mortensen plays Freud.


“The Fellowship” (Theme from Lord of the Rings) Howard Shore
“Gone” Viggo Mortensen & Buckethead
“Reflection” (Theme from A Dangerous Method) Howard Shore

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  • Modavations

    Check the flick,History of Violence!!!!!!

  • Elizabethbrown

    No thanks.  I am not into porn movies.  

    • Anonymous

      Porn? Are you saying that because this film deals with sexuality it’s a pornographic?

    • Andrew

      What on Earth are you talking about, Elizabethbrown?!?

    • Helen


  • gala

    not a flattering picture of him up there. can’t you find a better one?

    he is one sexy man! woo hoo! loved him in the “The Road” and the LOTR. He was perfect for the role of Aragorn.

    Does he miss being part of the cast and crew, now that they are working on the Hobbit?

  • gala

    Oh yeah, he was AWESOME in the “History of Violence”!
    I am big fan. Swooning over here …
    Can’t wait to hear his sexy voice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

    I am a big fan Mr. Mortensen. LOTR’s glory aside, History of Violence and Eastern Promises are two of my favorite movies and I am looking forward to A Dangerous Method! How do you prepare yourself for such challenging and cerebral roles?

    • Dan

      I am also a big fan.  He was excellent in LOTR but after seeing him in A History of Violence and The Road, I have to see every new film he does!

  • Elisabeth

    Please, ask him about the horse in Hidalgo. I loved that horse. What happened to him/her? Was it one or more horses… please ask him to talk about the bond between person and pony.

    • Marijane Wernsman

      He bought the horse as his own.  Don’t know if he still has it.

  • L armond

    Can’t afford movies, for last ten years.  But the promo’s and interviews on the talk shows always made be think :  That is one fine young man.

  • Anonymous

    One of the most attractive things about Viggo Mortensen is his ability to lead many lives within one as well as communicate in a number of languages — actual languages and ways of expression.  I’ve been over at the Diane Rehm show this morning listening to a discussion of the woes of private equity and capitalism gone wrong.  Money is nice, but not a healthy goal. Looking forward to an hour of talk about talent and other ways of leading a good life!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Michael Crichton called Freud the greatest novelist of the twentieth century.  He wove a mythological world that has seized the imaginations of many.  Fortunately, The Lord of the Rings has its own separate following.

  • Carl

    Shout out to Viggo for being a Habs Fan! 

  • http://www.dpsinfo.com LaurieMann

    Have really enjoyed Mortensen’s movies, especially his recent collaborations with David Cronenberg.  Is A Dangerous Method ever going to get more distribution?  I’d love to see it in a theater – will I have to wait to Netflix it?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    There are many moments in The Lord of the Rings trilogy that give me a catch in the throat or tears in my eyes.  The whole thing is inspiring, and Mortensen’s acting was a big part of that.  Many movies are entertaining, but a few rise to higher levels.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Yup, there was one of the moments–his speech to the men before that final battle.  Beautiful scene, that one.

  • Anonymous

    As an alum, Viggo exhibited some of his photographs at St. Lawrence University several years ago.  Is he still making art?  And writing poetry?  Please say hi from northern New York!  Big ice storm all over the region today.  :)  

  • Heather

    I think I first saw him in A Perfect Murder and was like, who is this hottie?  Then every movie got better and better.  I am a huge fan.  LOTR is always going to be a favorite of mine, but I am excited about anything he does, I will be seeing this movie for sure!! 

  • Helen

    Tom please mention Sean Penn’s film Indian Runner. Viggo Mortensen’s performance as Frank is stunning. My favorite scene is that in which Frank’s brother visits Frank in his dive apartment to report that their mother has died. I’ll never get over the way Mortensen uses his feet to display his otherwise hidden emotion. I couldn’t be a bigger fan- if only for his fondness for going barefoot and connecting with horses…

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    His portrayal of Aragorn had the same qualities that he just attributed to the Danish royal family.

  • Michael Popovic

    As a teacher in the Government Department at St. Lawrence University I would love to ask Viggo what role his education here in Northern NY played in his development as an actor. Viggo has had all these different experiences all across the world, but how did the rural North Country of NY influence him? Has his Government major influenced what roles he picked in the past. What perspective has it added to your life?  Michael Popovic

  • Carrie

    Mr. Mortensen ,in Lord of the Rings and Hidalgo your character sings, and in G.I. Jane your character recites a poem, were these moments part of the original script or were they added because of your ability and interests in these other arts?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    I had seen Mortensen in movies before, and when I heard that he was cast as Aragorn, I didn’t understand that choice.  Then I watched the film.  I now cannot think of any other actor in that role.  That must be one definition of great acting.

  • Jan

    I am a huge fan, and have made a personal quest to see his film catalog. I would love to know Viggo’s favorite movie in which he acted.

  • Blair

    Some questions for Viggo: Describe why you love hockey.
    Have you read Fifth Business (a very Jungian Novel) and could you ever see it being filmed? Maybe with you in it?

  • Colleen

    Viggo was the graduation speaker at my 2006 commencement from St. Lawrence University (also his Alma matar). At the time I hadn’t seen too many of his movies, and I thought, “oh an actor as a graduation speaker, he will probably just have silly things to say.” However he used his time to talk about the importance of health care. I’ll never forget it, and he definitely won my respect. (Colleen from Worcester)

  • SaraKY

    I visited the Freud Museum in Vienna a few years ago – what a really cool experience! However, even though it was where Freud did so much of his work, the Museum in London is the ‘mecca’ of Freud history. So my question to Mr. Mortensen: In your research for the role in the film, can you comment on Freud as the Jew who was ‘allowed’ to leave Austria with his family after Nazi Germany annexed Austria in 1938. 

    I consider Freud one of the most prolific writers in history. His books were targeted by Nazis to burn, and I like Freud’s quote: “What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now, they are content with burning my books.”

  • Helen

    Hi Viggo, I love your take on politics. We share the same heroes. I’m excited about Elizabeth Warren, what about you?

  • Mar E

    Just want you to know how much I admire your mastery of the craft of acting – so many wonderful roles…maybe The History of Violence, oddly enuf, is my favorite. Your politics are worthy too!!

  • Debharmyak

    My Question for Mr. Mortensen is how do you manage to accomplish so much each day?  Many of your accomplishments from poetry, music, acting, being a father, painting, these are time consuming.  I believe many people, including me, would love to pursue the arts, mostly for our own pleasure, however after a 40+ hour work week, raising our children, chores, there does not seem to be time.  Again, how do you do it?  Thank you, Deborah Harmon

  • Viglin from Sutton

    Viggo, run for office!  I’d vote for you!  Social/Societal Justice needs strong voices and you have such a voice!  Keep speaking out!!

  • Martha

    Hidalgo and Appaloosa are two of our all time favorite movies.  Do you have alot of experience working with horses?  Can you talk about what it’s like filming movies with horses?

  • JLaP

    Hello Viggo! I am sitting in Cape Vincent right now, and saw you in the Mustard Seed when you were there over the Holiday! Just a light question! How did you end up in Watertown, NY??
    I am enjoying this conversdation- some real insights into where you are coming from!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The same is true about the lay of Beren and Luthien in the extended edition of “The Fellowship of the Ring.”  Those songs are Tolkien’s.

    • Charles A. Bowsher

      How much do you have to pay to pollute our comments page with your advertising?

  • MarkwCrawford09

    I’m not trying to go off on a Ron Paul tangent (there are plenty of those out there). But does he wish to voice support for other politicians who have been outspoken against the Patriot Act (i.e. Ron Paul). Kucinich and Paul do see very clearly the dangers in these overreaching powers of the Federal government on the people and the precedents these acts by Congress or the president play on future generations. 

  • Scgbarnard

    I would be interested to know what sources for political news and information Viggo M. trusts and why?

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    The Marine commander should not have to undertake an investigation of the urinating debacle if these are real “Marines”. They should be man enough to step forward on their own and own up to what they did. It is doubtful these guys understand honor or Semper Fi though.  The picture I saw was of cowards, not Marines.

  • Haibatsu

    That’s right Viggo! Go Giants!

  • Billjanis

    I first met Viggo as Satan in The Prophecy. He SO pulled it off. Then it was Lord of The Rings, and he became a fav. And in The Road, amazing!

    In cant imagine another person being able to be Aragorn!

  • Brett

    If by “formative days of psychoanalysis” do they mean Freud seeing his very first patient, who suffered from hysteria–a woman revealing while under hypnosis that she was abused by her father–then deciding all patients suffering from hysteria were abused by their fathers? (He had some problems with his own father, to say the least, not to mention legitimate scientific method.) Of course, a film about Sigmund Freud would be infinitely more interesting than a film about Skinner!    

    • http://www.facebook.com/AuntScilly Priscilla Ballou

      He later reversed himself and invented the Electra complex to account for all the women who were reporting having been sexually abused.  It couldn’t possibly be that there has been rampant sexual abuse of girls, often by their fathers, throughout history, could it?  No, he couldn’t deal with that possibility, so he decided they were all making it up and really wanted their daddies to f*ck them.  Thus he perpetuated the denial which is only somewhat challenged to this day.

  • Modavations

    One of the most erotic scenes I’ve ever seen was the sex on the stairs in “History of Violence”

  • nqwerty

    I tuned in during a political rant and thought it was Geoge Clooney momentarily. Voice is all wrong but sounded like him as far as content. When it comes to Cindy Sheehan and Iraq, I find I align with Christopher Hitchens more than Dennis Kucinich. Post-socialist hawks. Internationalist interventionists. What have you.

  • Karen

    I’m indeed impressed with all of Viggo’s accomplishments, his diverse skills and intellectual chops. But let’s not forget his raw, mind blowing sex appeal with Diane Lane in A Walk on the Moon. Hubba hubba.

  • Liz

    Big fan of Viggo since LOTR. Great actor. 

  • Steven Passarello

    Am also a fan of Viggo’s and have a connection with him going back to days in Argentina, 1965 and 1966. I was production mgr at the poultry operation that was one of the businesses Voggo’s father, Viggo Peter Mortensen, was president of. Viggo may not remember but I drove him, his brother and their mother to the summer house at the Pilar farm. We drove from “ruta 8″ over 2km of a dirt/ muddy road and got stuck in the greasy like mud half way there. Viggo’s father was not happy with me! One time at a farm “asada”, Viggo showed my wife how to play soccer. He said to her that, “you must try to catch the ball with your feet”.
    Our 3 years in Argentina created many, wonderful memories as I’m sure they did for Viggo and his family.

  • Joey

    I believe that Viggo in one of the most creative actors of our time. I hope we keep seeing this kind of art in our world. 

  • Christine Envyme

    i love viggo.he is so talented and handsome

  • Loubell57

    Okay,I am without a doubt Viggo’s hugest fan from Northern NY-went to High School with him here. This man is extremely intelligent,motivated,friendly & kind. We could all take a lesson in humanity from Mr.Mortensen. If their were more Viggo’s in the world it would be a much better place in which to live. Long live Vigoo & go Giants,Habs & San Lorenzo !!!!!!

  • Joe Doc

    Dennis Kucinich and Cindy Sheehan?! Ugh. Polar opposites of Aragorn: “Show no mercy, for you well receive none!” I guess Vigo learned nothing from his time on the LOTR set.

    • C-e_p

      There is so much wrong with what you wrote here, that it beggars belief…

  • HyacinthGirl

    Viggo is amazing, inspiring and talented. They couldn’t have cast a better Aragorn. (You know Nicholas Cage nearly got the part? We really dodged a bullet there.)

  • Pingback: el Alma de Viggo

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