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Viggo Mortensen was a virtual unknown before director Peter Jackson cast him in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, propelling the actor to stardom. But Mortensen has mixed feelings about how the trilogy turned out.
In a new interview with The Telegraph that made headlines, Mortensen — who played Aragorn in the series — revealed that the trilogy’s first film, 2001’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, is his favorite of the three. He feels that Jackson relied too heavily on CGI effects for 2002’s Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and especially 2003’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
The actor explained that Fellowship incorporates expansive visual effects but still feels grounded in reality. “In the first movie, yes, there’s Rivendell and Mordor, but there’s sort of an organic quality to it, actors acting with each other and real landscapes; it’s grittier,” Mortensen said. “The second movie already started ballooning, for my taste, and then by the third one, there were a lot of special effects. It was grandiose and all that, but whatever was subtle in the first movie gradually got lost in the second and third. Now with The Hobbit, one and two, it’s like that to the power of 10.” (Mortensen does not appear in the Hobbit films.)
Mortensen said he wishes that Jackson would go back to making smaller films, as he did earlier in his career. “Peter, I was sure he would do another intimately scaled film like Heavenly Creatures, maybe with this project about New Zealanders in the First World War he wanted to make,” Mortensen continued. “But then he did King Kong. And then he did The Lovely Bones — and I thought that would be his smaller movie. But the problem is, he did it on a $90 million budget. That should have been a $15 million movie. The special effects thing, the genie, was out of the bottle, and it has him.”
All three of the LOTR films were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, but only Return of the King took home the coveted prize. Return also brought Jackson the only Best Director Oscar win of his career thus far. The final Hobbit film hits theaters later this year, while Mortensen’s newest film, The Two Faces of January — co-starring Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac — premiered at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival in February.
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