Byline: Robin Walker
Actor, writer, musician and photographer Viggo Mortensen has been labelled Hollywood's 'True Renaissance Man'.
Now the imposing Danish-American is having to cope with fame -as starring in Peter Jackson's trilogy, Lord Of The Rings, has transformed him into an international superstar.
For over a decade Mortensen had been on the brink of screen stardom but until he signed on to Jackson's New Zealand-made epic he was struggling to break through. Even roles in films like A Perfect Murder and Crimson Tide didn't get him beyond the supporting role jungle.
As the sinewy 44-year-old once joked: 'I've arrived so many times I don't know where I went.'
Now he just feels lucky. 'I have just been in the right place at the right time.'
Mortensen went to New Zealand to play Aragon, the exiled heir to the throne of Gondor in Lord Of The Rings and he hasn't looked back since.
But true to his celebrity-resisting reputation, Mortensen says the Lord Of The Rings trilogy owes its success to the whole cast. 'It's an ensemble piece, it's about the whole group and that is important. There was no big ego that needed tending.'
In The Return Of The King, the soon-to-be-released final instalment of the awardwinning trilogy, hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) come to the end of their quest to keep the One Ring from the grasp of Dark Lord Sauron by destroying it in Mount Doom.
As one of those leading the fight against Sauron, Mortensen's enigmatic Aragorn is both noble and flawed.
'I related to this brave and honourable man plagued by self-doubt and insecurities,' admits the actor. 'Aragon's burden is what shapes and colours his perceptions.'
The actor was so into the role he spent a lot of time in his fighting outfit 'to grow into it' and was even reportedly stopped by a policeman in Wellington while carrying his sword around.
When he agreed to step in to replace British actor Stuart Townsend, the New York-born actor says he didn't realise what he was letting himself in for.
'The shoot was meant to last about a year and we were supposed to have a break and be permitted to go home every third month. But the shooting lasted 18 months and we had no breaks.'
For the actors it was a gruelling project, particularly the elaborate battle scenes and the demands of swordfighting.
'I did pretty much all …