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Viggo Mortensen Says He Turned Down 'The Hobbit,' Gearing Up Directorial Debut With 'The Horsecatcher'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist May 29, 2013 at 11:18AM

There are few actors around as discerning, interesting and talented as Viggo Mortensen. As he's gained success in career, he's become choosier about this roles, usually going for something that stirs his heart or brain (or both), rather than the obvious star vehicle or blockbuster franchise. But of course, as Aragon in Peter Jackson's "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy, it brought the actor to the peak of fame and worldwide recognition, but count him out of any more trips to Middle Earth. Like it or not, Jackson found a way to turn the novella "The Hobbit" into three movies, in a new saga that overlaps with 'LOTR,' with a handful of characters carrying over. But for Mortensen, he wasn't interested in reprising a role that deviated from the text.
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Viggo Mortensen The Horsecatcher

There are few actors around as discerning, interesting and talented as Viggo Mortensen. As he's gained success in career, he's become choosier about this roles, usually going for something that stirs his heart or brain (or both), rather than the obvious star vehicle or blockbuster franchise. The role of Aragon in Peter Jackson's "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy brought the actor to the peak of fame and worldwide recognition, but count him out of any more trips to Middle Earth. Like it or not, Jackson found a way to turn the novella "The Hobbit" into three movies, in a new saga that overlaps with 'LOTR,' with a handful of characters carrying over. But for Mortensen, he wasn't interested in reprising a role that deviated from the text.

"Before they started shooting, back in 2008, one of the producers did ask if I would be interested," the actor told The Guardian. "I said, 'You do know, don't you, that Aragorn isn't in The Hobbit? That there is a 60-year gap between the books?' " Ooh, burn.

That said, he is far from dismissive of the enterprise, and is eager to catch up with what Jackson has created. "I'm interested in seeing that world again, and seeing what Peter Jackson's done, how he's made use of the improvements in special effects and cameras and the different way of shooting, which will probably enhance the visual aspect of the experience, the sound also," he explained. "And I'm interested in seeing how he's managed to make three movies out of a relatively slim volume…Jackson is a clever person – I'm sure he'll have done something really interesting with it." 

So, what's next on Mortensen's plate? Well, you might have missed him at the arthouse playing twins in "Everybody Has A Plan," but he recently wrapped the thriller "The Two Faces Of January" starring Oscar Isaac and Kirsten Dunst. And perhaps more intriguingly, Mortensen has plans to direct. He's recently adapted the 1957 book "The Horsecatcher" by Mari Sandoz for the big screen, and he hopes to helm it too. "It's a universal story – it speaks about peer pressure to be violent. You could transpose it to an inner city and have instead the pressure to take drugs," he explained of the story about a young Cheyenne Indian boy who must kill the enemy as a rite of passage.

We'd love to see Mortensen take his skills behind the camera and hopefully we won't have to wait too long for that to happen.

This article is related to: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, Viggo Mortensen, The Horsecatcher


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