Viggo Mortensen offers advice for Young Aragorn in Amazon’s LOTR series

Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn has already gone down as one the greatest cinematic heroes of all time, mixing his cunning skills as a warrior with a rugged-yet-poised disposition and an abundance of grace, all with a bit of humor peppered in. Mortensen was up to the daunting task of bringing such a recognized literally hero to the big screen, and now the character has become so popular over the years that Amazon will be focusing an entire, expensive series on him.

That means whoever gets the role as the young Aragorn will have even more pressure ahead of him to get it right, and they will certainly need a bit of advice from the man who’s been there before. Mortensen was speaking with Collider in promotion for the new movie GREEN BOOK and was asked about what advice he would give whoever is lucky enough to wield the sword.

As to be expected, his sage, wise advice is rather simple and tells the future actor to stick to the source material by J.R.R. Tolkien.

“I would say, not only read the book, you know, very thoroughly, that giant book of Lord of the Rings, but you could read some of the Nordic sagas. You’ll get some clues there as to where Tolkien got his information. Like, Sigurd the Dragon Slayer, and the Volsunga saga. Read that.

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He follows that up by saying to watch the movies of legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa (SEVEN SAMURAI, YOJIMBO, SANJURO). This advice comes from Mortensen’s own experience on the LORD OF THE RINGS series, as he was actually a last-minute replacement for actor Stuart Townsend, who had been training and rehearsing with the crew for some time before having to drop out. Mortensen recalls having very little time to do his research and explore the character, and he used that time to read LOTR and draw from stories he read in his youth.

“Lord of the Rings was a case where I replaced an actor and they were already filming – not only filming, but they’d been rehearsing for months and learning all these skills they had to have for those movies – language skills, invented the Elvish, and swordplay, and horse riding, all this stuff. And I was kind of freaked out because I said yeah and I’m on the plane, on this 13 hour plane flight, and I’m looking at the book, which I had never read. But as I started looking at it, I was like, ‘Well, there’s something.’ There’s always something that you can draw on. I had read or been read to as a kid, stories about Vikings and Nordic sagas and stuff, and there was something there that was familiar, but it was still – you know, fortunately when I started doing that shoot it was physical stuff, not dialogue. So it was like sword fighting, so I could get my feet wet with that before I actually had to start speaking. It’s not ideal, but it seemed – my son was really into me doing it, and he was 11 at the time, and that kind of pushed me over the edge to say, ‘Yeah, okay.’ And obviously I’m glad I did it. It opened a lot of doors for me, and we had a lot of fun making those three movies. But it’s not ideal. I sometimes have said no because I’m not gonna be able to do justice to it.”

Whoever gets the job better heed this advice, as Amazon has big hopes for this series already. Not only does the show have a massive production budget set in the hundreds of millions (on top of the amount they paid to secure the rights), but they’ve already secured the show for a five-season run. Though Peter Jackson won’t be involved in the show, STAR TREK 4 writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay have been enlisted to write the series.

GREEN BOOK is in theaters November 16.