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Mortensen made his first film appearance playing an Amish farmer in Peter Weir's Witness (Mortensen had actually acted in at least one prior film, The Purple Rose of Cairo, but his scenes were deleted from the final cuts).

In a 2012 interview, he denied that he ever said he was retiring, only that he didn't have "plans to do another movie" at the time and that he was "taking a little break now.I don’t have anything lined up.” With part of his earnings from The Lord of the Rings, Mortensen founded the Perceval Press publishing house—named after the knight from the legend of King Arthur—to help other artists by publishing works that might not find a home in more traditional publishing venues. His paintings are frequently abstract and often contain fragments of his poetry in them.His nude fight scene in a steam room was applauded by Roger Ebert: "Years from now, it will be referred to as a benchmark." In 2009, Mortensen appeared as himself in the film Reclaiming The Blade, in which he discussed his passion for the sword and his sword-work in films such as The Lord of the Rings and Alatriste.Mortensen also talked about his work with Bob Anderson, the swordmaster on The Lord of the Rings, Alatriste, Pirates of the Caribbean and many others.His paintings have been featured in galleries worldwide, and many of the paintings of the artist he portrayed in A Perfect Murder are his own.

Mortensen experiments with his poetry and music by mixing the two art forms.In 2005, Mortensen won critical acclaim for David Cronenberg's crime thriller A History of Violence.Two years later, another Cronenberg film Eastern Promises (2007) earned him further critical acclaim and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor.The 58-year-old actor was joined at the event by his 29-year-old son Henry.Viggo is nominated for his second Oscar this evening.Of these roles, Mortensen was probably best known for playing Master Chief John Urgayle in G. According to the Special Extended Edition DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Mortensen was a last-minute replacement for Stuart Townsend, and would not have taken the part of Aragorn had it not been for his son's enthusiasm for the J. He received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Aragorn, and was ranked No.