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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Middle-earth TV Series Discussion:
Viggo Mortensen's Advice for Whomever Plays Young Aragorn

Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Nov 8 2018, 1:51am

Post #1 of 17 (2820 views)
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Viggo Mortensen's Advice for Whomever Plays Young Aragorn Can't Post

Story at the site Bleeding Cool. The original article appeared at Collider. Here is a quote:


Quote
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.


"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by entmaiden on Nov 8 2018, 4:08pm)


squire
Half-elven


Nov 8 2018, 2:14am

Post #2 of 17 (2774 views)
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Is Mortensen right? Study sources for character, whether or not the screenwriters have done so? [In reply to] Can't Post

I admire Mortensen, but I am surprised that he assumes that 'Young Aragorn' will be best acted by someone who has read Tolkien and Tolkien's sources, rather than whatever the writers at Amazon have been using for their inspiration.

If the writers have gone in a different direction, say, conceiving young Aragorn as a conflicted soul with an interest in transgression and a kind of existential doubt about his future as the heir of Isildur, which will eventually be reconciled by his adventures in the East and the South, Mortensen's advice could cause major problems for the character actor on the set.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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Darkstone
Immortal


Nov 8 2018, 2:29am

Post #3 of 17 (2757 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder if the "character bibles" from Jackson's production will be available? From Jackson's stories of Mortensen's continual input I'd imagine Aragorn's character bible ended up quite extensive.

******************************************
"Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"
"Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in
thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond
all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled
mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
"Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may."
"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
"But no living man am I! I am Eowyn, daughter of Theodwyn!"
"Er, really? My mother's name was Theodwyn, too!"
"No way!"
"Way!"
"Wow! Let's stop fighting and be best friends!"
"Cool!!"

-Zack Snyder's The Return of the King


Silmaril
Rohan


Nov 8 2018, 7:31am

Post #4 of 17 (2719 views)
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Nice find! [In reply to] Can't Post

I also like what he says about his time in LOTR in this interview.


Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Lorien

Nov 8 2018, 2:19pm

Post #5 of 17 (2662 views)
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To be fair [In reply to] Can't Post

Mortensen's Aragorn also suffered a kind of existential doubt about his future as the heir of Isildur. And what else other than the Lord of the Rings is going to be the inspiration for Aragorn? Sometimes you seem unnecessarily harsh towards this series, when we don't even know a thing about it yet. Mortensen's advice seems pretty good to me. I get what you're saying, obviously, but I just don't think we can assume that the screenwriters aren't going to read the Lord of the Rings, or that they haven't done so already.

"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord."


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Nov 8 2018, 2:24pm

Post #6 of 17 (2655 views)
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I think that it seldom hurts to be familiar with sources. [In reply to] Can't Post

It should be very helpful--if not essential--for the showrunner(s), writers, and even the actor playing Aragorn to be familiar with "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" and other relevant excerpts from the LotR appendices. Interestingly, Mortensen also advised familiarity with the films of Akira Kurosawa. I wonder if he had any specific movies in mind? Now, whether being knowledgeable about the old Norse Sagas would be useful I could not say; but it I doubt it could do any harm.

I do find it Ironic now that Stuart Townsend, whom Mortensen was hired to replace, was in the year 2000 arguably around the right age to play the younger Aragorn, being still in his twenties.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Nov 8 2018, 2:29pm)


Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Lorien

Nov 8 2018, 3:21pm

Post #7 of 17 (2635 views)
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As someone who has read Beowulf and a handful of others [In reply to] Can't Post

I can say it would probably be very helpful - I'm also a devout fan of Norse mythology, which provided Tolkien with a bunch of inspiration. I've never heard of Akira Kurosawa, however.

"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord."


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Nov 8 2018, 3:53pm

Post #8 of 17 (2626 views)
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Kurosawa [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I've never heard of Akira Kurosawa, however.


Akira Kurosawa was arguably the most influential Japanese director who has ever lived. Just to name three of his films:

- Yojimbo (remade as A Fistful of Dollars)
- The Seven Samurai (remade as The Magnificent Seven)
- The Hidden Fortress (a primary inspiration for Star Wars)

Check some out!

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Lorien

Nov 8 2018, 4:02pm

Post #9 of 17 (2622 views)
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Oh, Seven Samurai! [In reply to] Can't Post

Okay, now I've heard of him, I just didn't know his name. An interesting source material for Aragorn.

"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord."


Belegdir
Lorien


Nov 8 2018, 5:42pm

Post #10 of 17 (2601 views)
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Looking back at Mortensen's Aragorn [In reply to] Can't Post

I can see a sort of ronin type character influence there. The idea that, although he's a great warrior, he's still searching for his true place in the world. So Kurosawa films could have helped him get that feeling.


Eruonen
Valinor


Nov 8 2018, 10:22pm

Post #11 of 17 (2532 views)
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Agree, of course you would read the source material and the influential material. [In reply to] Can't Post

Amazon is not going to write the character divorced from what he is.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Nov 10 2018, 6:22pm

Post #12 of 17 (2424 views)
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He might have recommended the anime "Samurai 7" as well, [In reply to] Can't Post

featuring a very Aragorn-esque lead character, Shimada Kambei.



Meneldor
Valinor


Nov 10 2018, 9:18pm

Post #13 of 17 (2398 views)
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And you can't forget Battle Beyond the Stars! [In reply to] Can't Post

Believe me, I've tried.


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. -Psalm 107


mae govannen
Tol Eressea


Dec 29 2018, 7:41am

Post #14 of 17 (1142 views)
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Tolkien's major Source for his Middle-earth Mythology (a rather long post!) [In reply to] Can't Post

Of course there is validity in all that has already been said in this very interesting thread. My thanks to Viggo for somehow starting it in this interview, and to Otaku-sempai for bringing it here!But I am surprised that in all the posts written already, there is no mention of the Kalevala, which was so important a literary source, along with Beowulf, for J.R.R.T., at least as a young writer, before he came into his own brand of genius.For, even with adding the Kalevala, I feel all this represents only one layer of Tolkien’s inspiration for what is more and more called(although I don’t think he ever did) his Middle-earth ’Saga’: the most visible layer - that is, the most superficial one, the easiest to trace.
It certainly had its importance for giving young Tolkien literary examples that he resonated to and whose forms he could use as first moulds in which to pour his own first literary expression. But let’s not forget the overall aim and deep Purpose he had when he started writing it: to compose a proper Mythology for his beloved country, England. And for such a Mythology, because Tolkien happened to be a devout Christian, and more specifically a fervent Catholic, the contents of his Mythology would necessarily have as their most crucial element something that cannot be found in the traditional mythologies, be it those of the North, of Ancient Greece and Rome, or of Kuroshawa: the presence of One Supreme Being above all the gods and goddesses and other various beings who were emanated from that One Being and who also have a free will of their own. In the Silmarillion Tolkien called this Being ‘Eru', or ‘Iluvatar' as the Father of All.This eternal Presence, of Love and Wisdom as well as absolute Power, overlooking a Creation happening through a process of Evolution that is constantly guided from above, but also altered at every moment by the various choices of everybody involved, is what gives to Tolkien’s world its distinctive, so important Flavor: the flavor of Hope.
Distancing himself more and more from those old Epics with blind and harsh Fate ruling everything, Tolkien makes it felt that there is that Loving Wisdom watching above everything, able at any moment to create what he himself called, in a Greek-based neologism, a ‘Eucatastrophe’: a sudden happy turn of events when the situation before seemed to be impossibly desperate.
From his own Letters, it can be seen how well Tolkien knew of such ‘Eucatastrophes’ through personal experience, able as he is to describe so wonderfully the effect of it on the being: a specially sweet, quiet and yet intense Joy, that may bring tears to the eyes, because it is the soul within that springs up, recognizing with gratitude the Help from its beloved Creator.The major source of inspiration for Tolkien’s Middle-earth Story was, I would say, from within: straight from his own soul and its Love relationship to the Divine, still guarding Arda’s evolution, however marred it is - down to its very Matter, by Morgoth’s influence - until it becomes again Arda Unmarred, and Life on Earth can be again the Earthly Paradise Tolkien felt it had been in the beginning.Peter, Fran and Philppa, and often some of the actors as well, have perceived and managed to express something of that crucial Element, even in the films themselves: it is what is alluded to by Gandalf, for example, when he says to Frodo that he was ‘meant' to be the Ring-bearer, just as Bilbo too had been ‘meant’ to find the Ring and take it from Gollum to his home in the Shire, away from Sauron’s searching Eye: there is a Plan, a Divine Plan, behind that huge Story, as Sam calls it, that their individual stories are all part of, and every being in that Story, whatever their status or power, has constantly to choose to adhere to this Divine Plan - or not. It is not true that his is a Manichean world, with the good ones and the bad ones already known from the start, and for ever so. Everyone has the choice, always.
Whether this Hope, based on Faith in Eru, prevails in each one's decisions, or whether pride, arrogance, ambition, desire for personal power, prevail instead, is the real reason why Morgoth, Sauron, Saruman, Denethor, etc, finally fall and fail, when Gandalf, Galadriel, Frodo, Aragorn and others are finally saved and grow into the full bloom of their being, in the role they have accepted to play in that Divine Plan prepared by Eru for the benefit of All.Aragorn, the one we are now speaking about, happens to be especially linked inwardly with this Hope, ‘Estel’, that they must all keep in their heart, for as a child and youth, being the secret and hidden last Heir of Isildur (and so, also of the whole Lineage of Numenor still faithful to the Valar and, through them, to Eru), he was called precisely ‘Estel’. This ‘Estel' is what the young new actor would have to try to somehow embody more and more too, I would say.
I personally love that scene suggested by Viggo himself, in ‘The Two Towers’, just before the Battle at Helm’s Deep starts, where he speaks with that youth, almost still a child in spite of the arms kids his age have been given like also the old people, because there is no one else there who can fight the huge army coming to attack them. That poor kid is so afraid, having heard that there is no hope… and Viggo-Aragorn's inner strength, awakened by his intense compassion for him, finds the right gestures, the simple but vibrant words:
’This is a good sword. There is ALWAYS hope.’
This is not from any old well-known Epic, but straight from the soul of one who is falling in love with his fellow Men, his people, and who later on will become their King, not out of ambition or desire for power, but because of his love for them, who need his strength and true, inner as well as outer kingship, to protect them and the whole of Middle-earth.This is what I would wish the new actor for young Aragorn to find a way to express from within, whatever the actual script and other outer factors direct him to put into his role.

'Is everything sad going to come untrue?'
(Sam, 'The Field of Cormallen', in 'The Return of the King'.)

(This post was edited by mae govannen on Dec 29 2018, 7:47am)


Mari D.
Bree


Dec 29 2018, 10:47pm

Post #15 of 17 (1119 views)
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Deeper ... flavour of a story, dimensions of a character ... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
... is what gives to Tolkien’s world its distinctive, so important Flavor: the flavor of Hope.
Distancing himself more and more from those old Epics with blind and harsh Fate ruling everything [..]

... who later on will become their King, not out of ambition or desire for power, but because of his love for them, who need his strength and true, inner as well as outer kingship, to protect them and the whole of Middle-earth.


Thanks for your post! Especially these two thoughts spoke to me ... the first, because, yes, I think it makes quite a difference, which I think I had not observed in this clarity before. Cruel fate or ever-present hope ... thanks for pointing this out!

The second, because the idea that you could rule over others for their own sake rather than your sake ... IF you really ARE a good leader ... then being under your authority is a good thing for the people you rule ...
It's an idea people are so unfamiliar with these days ... in our time there's so much rejection of authorities (police, politicians, church, teachers are often critisised rather than honoured). But I found it in the Bible recently, people in biblical times were aware of this (Isaiah 3:6-7) also calling a king "their shield" somewhere I believe? ... it's also an attitude I could strive for whenever I'm in a position of authority.

Seems there is a lot of potential in the role of Estel ... in what dimensions of the human reality or divine influences on this reality you could express, lay into the role ...


(This post was edited by Mari D. on Dec 29 2018, 10:50pm)


mae govannen
Tol Eressea


Dec 30 2018, 4:19am

Post #16 of 17 (1104 views)
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Glad those thoughts of mine found an echo in yours, [In reply to] Can't Post

on top of it so nicely expressed!

'Is everything sad going to come untrue?'
(Sam, 'The Field of Cormallen', in 'The Return of the King'.)


mae govannen
Tol Eressea


Dec 30 2018, 4:41am

Post #17 of 17 (1106 views)
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Very valid practical question, squire! [In reply to] Can't Post

But my answer to you would be: 'Both.'
For I am inclined to think a good actor could, and often does instill into his role, beyond what script and director may have put, whatever even deeper understanding of his character that he himself may have gained from reading the book(s) being adapted, in this case Tolkien's 'Hobbit' and 'Lord of the Rings', and 'Silmarillion' too, ideally.
I am actually answering this question of yours a second time now... The first time was two days ago, and my answer expanded into quite a long one, which I attempted to post in the end... only to see it vanish into thin air: by that time I had been logged out and couldn't post any longer!!!
Aaaargh. Shock of the loss of a post lovingly written... And no way that I could find to retrieve it from its past digital existence. How frustrating. *big sigh*
Anyway, I survived the shock and the misery, and just wrote it again yesterday, almost the same, but this time down below, as my own post answering directly the topic from Otaku-sempai. I just wanted to let you know, though, in case you like to have a look, as at first it was meant to be an answer to your question, and I think it still is.

'Is everything sad going to come untrue?'
(Sam, 'The Field of Cormallen', in 'The Return of the King'.)

(This post was edited by mae govannen on Dec 30 2018, 4:47am)

 
 

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