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Viggo Mortensen Isn’t Wild About ‘The Hobbit’

There’s a riff in the realms of men.

Viggo Mortensen, who played Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, has some harsh words about director Peter Jackson’s career — specifically, The Hobbit films, and even the final installments of the original trilogy.

It’s best to let the man speak for himself. Here are Mortensen’s thoughts on why The Fellowship of the Ring was the best of the three Lord of the Rings films, and why he’s not a fan of The Hobbit:

“Peter was always a geek in terms of technology but, once he had the means to do it, and the evolution of the technology really took off, he never looked back. 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. 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.

“I guess Peter became like Ridley Scott – this one-man industry now, with all these people depending on him. … But you can make a choice, I think. I asked Ridley when I worked with him (on 1997’s GI Jane), ‘Why don’t you do another film like The Duellists [Scott’s 1977 debut, from a Joseph Conrad short story]?’ And 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. 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. And he’s happy, I think…”

(via The Guardian)


  • Rennoir

    Couldn’t agree more.

  • ishmaelbbc

    If only more celebrities spoke out some truths about their business…

  • BeastieRunner

    A mix of practical and CGI is nice. Too much of one or the other I think can ruin the immersion.

  • Chicken McPhee

    Right on Viggo!

  • J

    Dead on

  • Outside

    Wouldn’t call them harsh, the way Peter is doing movies now is just not to Viggo’s preference.

  • J.p. Ducey

    This was how I felt about Star Wars Episodes I, II & III.


    Whatever you think of The Hobbit movies, they’re still more entertaining than anything Viggo Mortensen has been in since 2008.

  • Drithien

    Is there a part of his comments edited out from the article? Because I don’t see any “harsh” words of Mortensen towards Jackson. Just that he prefers movie-making to be less based on cgi. Or is a difference in taste what passes for harshness nowadays in the name of the internetic hunt for page visits?

  • Alex Evans

    I’ve always said that Fellowship was the best LOTR movie but I’ve often struggled to say why I felt that way. Ultimately, I settled on just saying that it was the most intimate and emotionally resonant of the three movies. Reading what Viggo’s said, I think he’s hit the nail on the head. I never thought of it, but I think what he’s saying really contributed to how I ranked the LOTR movies (I really love all three, but I rank them just like Viggo does).

  • MarrowMan

    History of Violence and Eastern Promises not good enough for you?

  • David Fullam

    Sounds like someone has never seen The Road.

  • David Fullam

    Thumbs up Viggo.

  • Emiliano Ulises Figueroa Garci

    Yeah, u end putting to much effort on fx and u end having hollow movies like transformers, hahaha, ofc we are talking about a book adaptation so the tale was already there.

  • MychaelDarklighter

    You thought that Star Wars ought to be intimately scaled with fewer effects..? May I suggest that you were simply watching the wrong sort of movie? Star Wars tends to be fairly fantastic, as you may have surmised from the title.


    Both were made pre-2008.


    I have not.

    But I can’t imagine it being more “entertaining” than The Hobbit movies, especially considering that everyone I know that has seen The Road has told me that it is one of the most depressing movies of all time, which is pretty much the main reason I haven’t seen it.

    It’s funny, though, I thought, at first glance, that your message said I had never seen The Raid. I can assure you I have seen The Raid, and it was more entertaining than anything either Mortensen or Jackson have done in years.

  • Thrillomania

    He didn’t say they weren’t entertaining, he’s implying Jackson relies too much on Special Effects and not enough on actors acting, “for his taste”.


    Maybe I would take his criticisms seriously if he had displayed more than 3 emotions over the entirety of his career.

    I realize I sound like a Peter Jackson fanboy (mostly because I am), but I think there is a pretty good reason why Viggo Mortensen hasn’t been in anything anyone has seen in years and never gets mentioned during any awards season.

    Viggo Mortensen couldn’t act his way into a Golden Razzie nomination.

  • kalorama

    He makes some interesting points, but I don’t really think his words were all that “harsh” per se.

  • J***

    Rankin/Bass did in 90 minutes what Peter Jackson can NOT do in three overbloated movies, make a entertaining Hobbit movie.

  • Episteme

    Personally, I’ve enjoyed what Jackson’s done with THE HOBBIT (and consider THE TWO TOWERS my favorite of the first trilogy). Nevertheless. I think that Mortensen has a valid opinion here on moviemaking — and not a harsh one at all. Mind you, I also would be interested in seeing Jackson working on a smaller-budget film at this point in his career, just to see how he approaches it from a logistical point-of-view.

  • J.p. Ducey

    The original trilogy didn’t rely solely on cgi to sell their movies

  • MarrowMan

    Ah fair enough.

  • rjschwarz

    Lord of the Rings needed the escalation into epic in the second and third installments. I agree the Hobbit didn’t need that, at least until Smaug and the Battle of 5 Armies but the rest of Viggo’s issue seems to be a basic preference for small indie movies. So be it, but maybe Peter Jackson and Ridley only made those because they had no choice before.

  • Andrew Breneman

    That is because it didn’t exist in any comparable form. In comparison to other movies of the time, Star Wars was as reliant on effects as it has ever beem.

  • J.p. Ducey

    IMO I thought Episodes 1 -3 were pretty horrible in almost every aspect. I just didn’t like them period and I do love big epic sci-fi. But Lucas relied wayyyyy too much on CGI to sell these movies instead of focusing on making the movies better, which is what I believe Vigo is saying about Jackson’s films.

  • Adrian

    You know, THRILLHOU, it’s really nice and all that you’re outspoken and bold in your beliefs and passions.

    But you claim to not have seen The Road because of its mood. Moods are like an actor’s expressions, since you brought that up: they’re all perfectly human and – because of that – equally valid. And comparing The Road to the LOTR / The Hobbit films is like comparing apples to oranges.

    Entertainment comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s not and shouldn’t be in the one-size-fits-all happy-is-the-only-mood playcourt.

    Might I add that the Tolkien universe is not particularly utopic itself… it’s actually quite gruesome, tragic and sad if you look past the apparent glory of times long set.

    Granted, Mr. Mortensen doesn’t quite convince me either of Aragorn’s kingly pedigree, nor do I feel particularly happy about the character’s crowning as king. I actually feel a bit sad for him that he goes from trekking through the beautiful Middle Earth scenery (which seems to suit him best) to sitting his royal behind on the throne boringly ever after. He’s a great deal more believable and natural as a lone strider than he is as a ruling figure. Remember the rather shouted speech he gives before the troops charge to battle at the gates of Mordor? Truly that strained voice wasn’t made for it.

    But he is an interesting actor nevertheless and some folks enjoy taking on less blockbustery projects in favour of whatever obscure pursuit their soul desires to go for. Would you call Christopher Walken a bad actor since he’s always pretty much the same in every movie? If you really need a stoneface to bash, have a go at Keanu Reeves. Now THAT’s a guy to have starred in films too good for him.

    As for Viggo Mortensen’s comments on modern cinematography, he rather hits the nail on its head with filmmakers relying far too much on CGI and just too little on important stuff such as screenplay (you’d imagine they’d get good writers for the amounts they spend), acting, pacing and all those subtleties that add character to a flick and define (or invent!) eras.

    1970s science fiction films (take Ridley Scott’s “Alien” and James Cameron’s superb sequel “Aliens”) have a solid, palpable feel to them because of the just-as-real (if miniaturized) nature of everything in them. A feel that’s been all but lost nowadays when just about everything is computer-animated and feels fake, weightless, too sleek and… all that.

    But what I’m ultimately trying to say is that it can’t hurt to be a little less convinced of your convictions and consequently more open to what’s outside your comfort zone. Not having a firm opinion is not the same as being ignorant. Actually, quite the contrary!

    All the best!


    You know, maybe you shouldn’t assume so much about people because they haven’t seen one movie you like.

    I’ve had The Road on my Netflix queue for a while now, along with 111 other films (not including streaming), so you’ll excuse me if I have found other films more worthy of my time.

    I’m sure there are plenty of movies that you haven’t seen, so I could give you the same speech.

    And hey: everyone loves a ridiculously long, condescending lecture about their taste in films based on the opinions of 2 movies.

  • MychaelDarklighter

    Nor did the second.