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Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 09:24 GMT
Mortensen's battle scars
Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen was a late addition to the cast
Viggo Mortensen was a last-minute addition to the Lord of the Rings cast, after Stuart Townsend left the set after four days of work as king-in-waiting Aragorn.

Previously best known for his role as a tough, poetry-spouting naval officer in GI Jane, Mortensen had a lot to learn very quickly - particularly as he'd never read Tolkien's novels.


Everyone got hurt at some point because we were throwing ourselves into it

Viggo Mortensen
"I had a couple of days to learn as much as I could," he recalls.

"Especially sword-work, because the first scene I had to do involved sword fighting. I was basically trying to read the book and the scripts, learn to use a sword and learn the Elvish dialect, and whatever the hell else I had to do, all at once."

The sword fights were tough, he remembers, as director Peter Jackson insisted on them looking as real as possible.

In fact, they were so real that Mortensen lost a tooth during the last third of shooting.

Tattoo

"Everyone got hurt at some point because we were throwing ourselves into it. There are no shortcuts with that kind of thing," Mortensen says.

With all three films being shot at once, Mortensen had the intellectual challenge of keeping track of his character as Jackson jumped between scenes from different parts of the trilogy.

"Part of what's interesting to me is putting the puzzle together and making sure that the pieces are set up in a way that they can be consistent, so that you can then just throw yourself into what has to happen," he says.

"It's much like learning the words and then forgetting them and trying to play it like it's the first time you've ever experienced this."

At the end of the shoot, Mortensen - also an artist, poet and photographer - designed a number nine tattoo for each of the actors playing the Fellowship.

Only Jonathan-Rhys Davies, who stars as Gimli, chose not to receive the tattoo. He sent his stunt double along instead.

"I suppose we didn't need to add another scar to commemorate the real scars," says Mortensen.

"But it was a way of saying thank you to each other, and reaffirming the bond that we had developed, and probably always will have, to one degree or another, as actors who played these roles."


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