Viggo Mortensen shares his advice for the cast of Amazon's upcoming Lord of the Rings television series. Even though Peter Jackson concluded his second (and presumably final) cinematic trilogy in Middle-earth a few years back with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, J.R.R. Tolkien's world is such a popular staple of pop culture, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood looked to bring it back in some capacity. Amazon will be the ones attempting to pull off the Herculean task, investing a considerable amount of money into a streaming show. Plot details remain under wraps for the time being.
Mortensen, of course, is well-versed with the Lord of the Rings universe, starring as Aragorn in the movies. Coming in as a last-minute replacement for Stuart Townsend, Mortensen quickly became a fan-favorite and will forever be synonymous with the role. However, someone may be following his footsteps in the near future, as reports indicate the TV show will focus on a young Aragorn. Should that come to pass, the new actor would undoubtedly seek a meeting with Mortensen, but the veteran is already giving advice to his would-be successor.
In an interview with Collider to promote this month's Oscar contender Green Book, Mortensen was asked what he'd say to an actor taking on a part in the new Lord of the Rings project. Apparently, making a trip to the library is a top priority:
“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."
Though the Lord of the Rings TV show is said to be a prequel set prior to The Fellowship of the Ring, this is still sound advice. Familiarity with the material is a must in this situation, especially since Middle-earth sports a very dense and sprawling mythology. Jackson's movies are infamous for their protracted runtimes, but even they couldn't fit in everything from Tolkien's texts. And while the films will surely be a point of reference for many, it's always best to have multiple sources to draw from, which hopefully will help inform any performance and make it stand out. During the interview, Mortensen noted how his history with Viking and Nordic stories aided his preparation for Lord of the Rings, and the results speak for themselves. Anyone involved with the TV show - whether they're playing Aragorn or another character audiences love - would be wise to heed Mortensen's words.
Before thespians pick the brain of Mortensen and others, Amazon still has some work to do. It was only a few month ago they hired writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay to work on the story, so it sounds like Lord of the Rings remains in the earliest stages of pre-production. Currently, the belief is it'll be ready to premiere at some point in 2021, meaning it could take a while before other pieces start falling into place. Fortunately, it sounds like Mortensen would be willing to lend a helping hand to someone feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of working in Middle-earth.