The conversation, and a subsequent one by telephone from Iceland, Mr. Mortensen's next stop, meandered into philosophical discourses on the humiliations of Hollywood auditions, the delights of Norse mythology, the difficulties of trying to do too many things at once, and the possible parallels between selling a film and selling the Iraqi war to the American public. In turning the talk from the specific to the general, the actor repeatedly demonstrated the self-effacement that, according to an article in Premiere, had his "Lord of the Rings" colleagues calling him "no-ego Viggo" on set.
Indeed, the affable Mr. Mortensen seems almost pathologically unable to talk about himself for more than a few minutes at a time, a quality that Peter Jackson, the director of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, said was a key to understanding him. "People are motivated by different things," Mr. Jackson said in a telephone interview. "But Viggo literally seems motivated by personal interest in what he's doing, the character that he's playing and the integrity of the finished result."
"One of the things that appeals to Viggo about Aragorn is that he's not just an action hero," Mr. Jackson continued. "In his own way, Aragorn is just as thoughtful as Viggo. There's a reluctance on his part to become the king he was meant to be. In a sense, that mirrors Viggo's reluctance to become a movie star."
In the random way these things go, Mr. Mortensen had been verging on movie stardom for quite some time. After a run of unmemorable roles in a run of unmemorable movies, he began attracting notice with a series of stirring performances.
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