Six of the Best Viggo Mortensen Movie Roles

Viggo Mortensen

Sort of like Clive Owen, Viggo Mortensen didn’t start getting big roles until relatively later in his career. A lot of Viggo’s characters are strong men living in a world of violence, and he does a great job of presenting their idiosyncracies. He’s not type-cast by any means – as evidenced by his role in A Perfect Murder – but nobody plays the silent tough guy with a heart of gold better than Viggo.

The guy is over 50 years old, but seems at least 10 years younger. Plus, he’s one of the few guys with a cleft chin that I don’t have any issue with. Here are 6 amazing Viggo Mortensen movie roles that if you haven’t seen him in, you must.

Aragorn – Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Return of the King

Aragorn, the King of Men, slices and dices orcs and Uruk-hai like a velociraptor let loose in a petting zoo. As deadly as Aragorn is, though, it was he who had enough sense to tell Frodo to leave the Fellowship and thus take away any temptation to obtain the Ring of Power. Viggo plays the role of Aragorn perfectly, portraying reluctant leadership, courage, sympathy, and a penchant for decapitations.

Nikolai – Eastern Promises

Viggo earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his role as Nikolai, and he probably would have won if he didn’t have the bad luck of going up against Daniel Day Lewis that year. Nikolai is a driver for the Russian Mafia and also helps perform some of the mob’s “clean up” work. Viggo became a very, very scary dude for this role – Nikolai is covered with symbolic tattoos and participates in a knife fight to the death in a bath house. I didn’t know much about the Russian Mafia before seeing this movie, and if Cronenberg’s portrayal of it is anything close, I don’t want anything to do with it. If Nikolai did that two-fingers-pressed-against-the-throat gesture, I’d lose my shirt.

Tom Stall/Joey – A History of Violence

Tom Stall isn’t as scary as Nikolai, but that’s only because Tom has done his best to escape his violent past. Posing as the owner of a coffee shop, Tom managed to keep his family in the dark concerning his wilder days as a brutal criminal. The front only lasts for so long, though, and “Joey” makes one more bloody mess at the expense of his brother and his brother’s henchmen. Viggo is great as Tom Stall/Joey, and his switch from the humble, quiet Tom to the lethal Joey over the course of A History of Violence is quite impressive.

Command Master Chief John James Urgayle – G.I. Jane

Viggo’s Urgayle seems to relish running “hell week” for the soldiers trying to become SEALs, but you can’t fault him for that too much. After all, Urgayle himself completed hell week, became a tough soldier, and grew one of the sweeter mustaches I have had the honor of seeing on the big screen. Lt. O’Neil (played by Demi Moore) clashes with Urgayle throughout G.I. Jane, ultimately earning his respect when she proves she can hang with the men.  Urgayle is memorable because he held O’Neil to the same standard as his male soldiers, ensuring that her becoming a SEAL wasn’t some type of fluke or exercise in novelty.

Frank Hopkins – Hidalgo

I liked Hidalgo, and a lot of that was because of Viggo as Frank Hopkins. He’s up front and center throughout the film, so if the character is off or unbelievable, the entire movie crumbles – sort of like Juno. Yes, Juno – Ellen Page is adorable, but wow, was she unlikable in Juno. Not a terrible movie, but Best Picture nominee? Please. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Hidalgo. I loved the 3,000 mile race across the Ocean of Fire, and Viggo creates a relationship with the horse.

Lucifer – The Prophecy

The Prophecy is kind of a bizarre movie, but playing Lucifer in any context has got to be pretty cool for any actor. Viggo’s Lucifer is creepy and manipulative, just how a manifestation of the Devil should be. The role of Lucifer isn’t a big one in The Prophecy, but with Viggo and the screenplay, his part is definitely a memorable one.

Honorable Mention – David Shaw – A Perfect Murder

Having an affair with someone’s wife while conspiring to kill her and scheming to make some major money score deserves a mention. Also, David’s paintings in A Perfect Murder were actually those painted by Viggo himself. Have you seen The Road? That’s another one we’ve got to mention.  Would be nice if he had gotten a Best Actor nomination for that one.   It’s just too bad the movie wasn’t as up to snuff as it should have been.

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