New Line Cinema
Lord of the Rings is one of the most popular and enduring series in all of fiction. Its story and characters are indelible, from the hobbits to the dwarves to the elves. There's one human at the center of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy epic, though, and his name is Aragorn. In the films, Aragorn is played marvelously by Viggo Mortensen. Between J.R.'s words and Viggo's performance, Aragorn has become a popular character in the hearts of many fans. BUt there are plenty of Aragorn facts that even those die-hard fans might not know, though.
Aragorn has already led a fairly long life when we're first introduced to him. There's plenty of fascinating tidbits from Aragorn's life in the books. What's more, there are also some juicy details from the filming of director Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. As portrayed by Viggo Mortensen, Aragorn is a stubborn, hard-working, good man. He's one of the best characters in the entire series.
Aragorn was essentially a foster child. His father died when he was only two years old, so he spent the vast majority of his childhood being raised by Elrond. That explains why he's so familiar with the elven lord when the series begins.
Elrond is essentially Aragorn's surrogate father, but it doesn't seem like their relationship is particularly great. Of course, some of that strain may have materialized after Aragorn began his relationship with Arwen. Whatever the case might be, plenty of heroic figures have issues with their father. As strained as Aragon's relationship with Elrond might be, Elrond was still willing to help when Aragorn needed it most.
Because Aragorn was the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor, his identity was kept a secret for many years from even him. In order to better disguise his identity, Elrond gave him the name Estel while he was a child. Estel means hope, so it was an apt name for Isildur's heir.
While Aragorn doesn't save Middle Earth on his own, it's hard to argue that he didn't play a huge role in saving the realm. His pseudonym was a sign of Elrond's belief in him, even if their bond wasn't perfect. Aragorn succeeded where Isildur failed, and banished Sauron's evil from Middle Earth once and for all.
Peter Jackson's decision to direct the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy was quite an undertaking. It's no wonder that, on occasion, he got a bit confused. In fact, there were several instances when he referred to Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn or vice versa. His confusion is totally understandable, especially when you consider how good Viggo is in the films.
He became Aragorn so thoroughly that even the director had trouble telling the actor and character apart. There are stories that Viggo went a little method on set. He really wanted to live inside Aragorn's skin, and the onscreen results speak for themselves.
Although Aragorn spent much of his life denying his place on the throne, his name didn't help much. Aragorn means "revered king," so it seems only natural that Aragorn would eventually ascend to the throne. Those lofty expectations came from his parents and they must have been a lot to live up to.
Fortunately, Aragorn was just the kind of man who could do it. He was a reluctant leader, and those are often the best kind. He didn't want power, it was simply thrust upon him. Aragorn was a good man and a great king. He earned the name he was given.
Arwen and Aragorn are soulmates. Their relationship is one of the emotional cores of the entire saga. It seems that Elrond may have foreseen the relationship between them. That's why he chose to keep them apart from one another for as long as possible. Elrond never approved of the relationship, in large part because Arwen was immortal and Aragorn was not.
Of course, Elrond couldn't keep them apart forever. They met and fell in love almost immediately thereafter. Arwen knew a good man when she saw one. Aragorn may not have been a childhood friend of Arwen, but that hardly mattered in the end.
Although Elrond was not hugely fond of the relationship between Arwen and Aragorn, he eventually consented to their marriage. As part of his consent, though, Elrond made one final request: Aragorn would have to become king of Gondor and Arnor. After all, what's the point in marrying a mortal if he's not also a king?
Of course, Aragorn didn't just become king to please his father. He did it to serve the people that he ruled over, and protect them from evil forces like Sauron. Aragorn was a perfect fit for the role because of his innate goodness. He's also pretty good with a sword.
Ages work a little bit differently in the world of Middle Earth. Aragorn is 87 during the events of Lord of the Rings, which would mean he was quite old if he was on Earth. In Middle Earth, though, aging works a bit differently. As a result, Aragorn still isn't even halfway through his life yet.
He gets to live about twice as long as most humans, and it seems like he makes the most of those years. Aragorn deserves the long life he gets, even if it's typical for the people of Middle Earth. He fought many wars so he could die in peace.
Aragorn has already led a pretty long life when we meet him in Lord of the Rings. That means that, for the most part, he has some familiarity with the rest of the fellowship before they set off on their quest. In Gandalf's case, Aragorn first met him when he was 25.
It's not totally clear how the two first met, but they ended up striking a long-time bond. Although Frodo is by far the most evidently grief-stricken when Gandalf falls, Aragorn also looks pained. That pain comes from a lifetime of knowing and loving the benevolent old wizard, and relying on him for wisdom.
Hobbits are the real heroes at the heart of the Lord of the Rings series, and it seems like J.R.R. Tolkien knew that from the start. In fact, Aragorn is the only major human character who gets to be at all heroic, and that almost wasn't the case. Originally, Aragorn was supposed to be a hobbit as well.
Thankfully, Tolkien decided that at least some of his central characters should be human, and rewrote the character. This allows Aragorn to have a more protective relationship with the hobbits. He's not only taller than them but a world traveler. Hobbits keep to The Shire, but men like Aragorn travel the world.
During the years when Aragorn wandered through Middle Earth, he became a Dúnedain ranger. His father was a part of the Dúnedain, so Aragorn knew that he would be welcome there. He became the 16th Chieftan of the Dúnedain and helped them fight off Orcs.
Aragorn's skill with a sword and with a bow comes in part from his time with the Dúnedain. It's also where he learned how to battle against the armies of Mordor, which is a skill he ended up needing. The fight against Mordor is ultimately what defines Aragorn's life, so his time with the Dúnedain is hugely important.
During the Battle of Helm's Deep, things got pretty gnarly for many of the Lord of the Rings characters. As it turns out, things also got a little tough for the cast. During the filming of the battle, Viggo Mortensen chipped one of his front teeth pretty badly.
Instead of freaking out about it, though, Viggo simply went to the dentist on his lunch break and had it repaired. He was back filming that very afternoon. Needless to say, Viggo wasn't exactly a diva on set. Acting can be grueling work, especially if you're willing to ruin your teeth on a job.
When the hobbits first meet Aragorn, they refer to him as Strider. As it turns out, that's just one of the many nicknames that Aragorn accumulated over the course of his life. He was also known as Longshanks and Wingfoot.
Additionally, he was given the pseudonym of Estel as a child, and as a soldier for Gondor, he adopted the name Thorongil. Needless to say, Aragorn's identity was a bit flexible, and his name was even more so. He was willing to become anybody at the drop of a hat, as long as that person didn't have to be king.
J.R.R. Tolkien made a somewhat radical decision when he chose to make Aragorn a supporting player in Frodo's story. Frodo is the one who suffers the most and sacrifices everything. It's the hobbits who are the story's real heroes. Aragorn is not unheroic, but he exists to help them. There's a reason he says "for Frodo" before charging into battle.
The movie version of Aragorn is an incredibly noble character. He's noble in the books too, but he's also a little more interested in the throne than his filmed counterpart. That doesn't necessarily make his character worse. In fact, it makes him more complicated.
Still, the simpler version of Aragorn that we get in the films is no less fascinating. Viggo Mortensen understands how to make the character compelling. He's the one who might have to rule when all is said and done, and Viggo makes that burden compelling. Aragorn is a great man in the books and the film, whether he's interested in the throne or not.
The Ring of Power is an old object. It was forged during the Second Age of Middle Earth, which means that it's more than 3,000 years old. It wouldn't be destroyed until the end of the Third Age. Aragorn wears a ring that's even older, though.
The Ring of Barahir was crafted during the First Age, which makes it one of the oldest objects in Middle Earth. Arwen ultimately winds up with this ring, as Aragorn gives it to her when they are married. That's fitting, given the fact that the ring was forged by the elves when it was originally made.
During Aragorn's years of exploring, he was tasked with tracking Gollum and finding out more about the ring. Although Aragorn doesn't interact with Gollum much inside the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he does carry some prior knowledge of Gollum with him.
He also learned some things about the ring, and the powerful effect it had had on Gollum. That may make his eventual decision to reject the ring somewhat easier. Having seen how it corrupted Gollum, Aragorn knows that its power is not worth the cost. Aragorn's life has made him the noble man that he is, not his bloodline.
Aragorn spent the first 20 years of his life without the knowledge of what his future held. As far as he knew, he was just a normal man. When he turned 20, though, he learned that he was Isildur's heir, and thus the rightful ruler of Gondor.
That kind of burden can change who you are, especially when it comes after 20 years of ignorance. It's probably for the best that Aragorn didn't find out sooner. He got to have some time as a care-free kid. As soon as he turned 20, though, he found out that he may be man's last hope of survival.
The day after Aragorn found out who he really was, he met the love of his life. Those two days would ultimately set the course for the rest of his life. He would go on to become king, and the girl he met would be his queen.
Aragorn lived one kind of life before he turned 20, and a totally different life afterward. Not only did he have to become an adult, he had to carry the burden of being in line for the throne. On top of that, he also met the love of his life and knew her to be that as soon as they met.
Aragorn and Arwen didn't need much time to figure each other out. They knew they would be together forever pretty much as soon as they met. That kind of love isn't the most realistic thing, but it's perfect for a world of fantasy.
The love that exists between Arwen and Aragorn is totally pure. There's never a conflict between them that keeps them apart. Instead, everything that separates is external, based on the expectations he's surrounded by and the disapproval of her father. Aragorn and Arwen are simply meant to be, and they knew that was the case the second they saw each other.
The Kingdom of Arnor doesn't get a lot of mentions in the movies, but it's also a part of Aragorn's lineage. Although the more important throne is certainly the one in Gondor, Aragorn is also the king of Arnor. Arnor's lack of recognition stems from the fact that, during the war of the ring, it doesn't have much power.
Although all of man's great kingdoms have been diminished somewhat, Arnor is even worse off than Gondor or Rohan. It's a kingdom Aragorn will have to work to restore. As a great king, he may have known just how to make it a thriving place once again.
Elrond worked hard to keep Aragorn's identity a secret from everyone around him. He knew that Isildur's heir would be an instant target for Sauron and his allies, and wanted to keep Aragorn safe. Isildur's heir could ultimately prove crucial in beating Sauron back.
Elrond's gambit certainly paid off. Aragorn plays a huge role in Sauron's defeat. Although Elrond and Aragorn don't agree on everything, Elrond always had Aragorn's best interest at heart. Conveniently, what was best for Aragorn was also best for Middle Earth. By keeping Aragorn's identity a secret even from Aragorn himself, Elrond killed two birds with one stone.
All of the actors on Lord of the Rings had to deal with the film's many elaborate fights. To choreograph those fights, Peter Jackson brought in Bob Johnson, a British Olympic fencer. Johnson had trained many actors for sword battles but believed Viggo Mortensen to be one of the best he'd ever worked with.
Viggo's skill in this area speaks to his commitment to the role of Aragorn. Although he was never properly recognized for his work in the role, he's giving an incredible, lived-in performance. The Lord of the Rings trilogy wouldn't work nearly as well without him there to hold things together.
Aragorn and the world of Middle Earth are both fictional, but that doesn't mean that he wasn't based on actual kings. J.R.R. Tolkien's main source of inspiration for the character was the Anglo-Saxon King Oswald of Northumbria, but that wasn't his only inspiration.
The character was also inspired by King Arthur as well as some aspects of Edward the Confessor and Alfred the Great. Because history is so long, there are plenty of real kings to base characters on. Of course, King Arthur doesn't exactly fit that bill, but there aren't many fictional kings who don't have some aspects of that character in them.
In the world of Middle Earth, men live quite a bit longer than they do on Earth. Aragorn is 210 when he dies, having lived a long life and served for more than 100 years as king. His death was a mournful one, but it's one that Arwen knew would happen.
She believed that her love for Aragorn would be worth the pain of losing him. Whether that was ultimately the case is unclear, but it seems likely. Arwen and Aragorn's love was real and pure. Even after he was gone, the love between them probably lived on into eternity.
Aragorn's final words to Arwen were a celebration of his life. He did not mourn his passing. Instead, he suggested that he was glad to have lived the full life that he had lived. "In sorrow, we must go, but not in despair," he said. "Behold! We are not bound forever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!”
Aragorn knew that his death would not be the end. He would live on in Arwen's memory, and meet her again someplace else. Death is not the end, but a new beginning, and not a moment of tragedy.
During his time wandering through Middle Earth, Aragorn served in both the Gondor and Rohan armies. That explains why he's so familiar with their tactics. It's also another piece of evidence to support the idea that Aragorn is fit to rule because of his experience living alongside his subjects.
Of course, when Aragorn served in these armies, he assumed a pseudonym so that his identity wouldn't be discovered. His name in these armies was Thorongil, and he earned something of a reputation for his skill in battle. Aragorn was undoubtedly a great warrior, and he didn't need his bloodline to convince others that was the case.
When Aragorn is tracking Merry Pippin after they've been taken by orcs, he initially believes they've been killed by Rohan soldiers. While that's ultimately not the case, Aragorn is so anguished over this discovery that he kicks an orc helmet and screams.
It turns out that at least some of that anguish was real because Viggo Mortensen broke his toe when he kicked that helmet. What's more, the take where he breaks his toe is used in the film. Good actors can imitate their characters feeling pain. The best actors, though, actually put themselves through the kind of pain their characters experience.
Viggo Mortensen gave Aragorn a bit of scruff, in part so that he could be distinguished from the film's many clean-shaven characters. That scruff gives Aragorn a somewhat rougher look. He's not as immaculately manicured as the elves, or as boyish as the hobbits. The scruff feels like a natural fit for the character.
The ruggedness of Aragorn's face does make it slightly harder to imagine him as king, though. Even so, the choice to give Aragorn a more unkempt appearance was definitely the right one. It makes him look like a man of the people, willing to work and fight for them.
Yet another case of Viggo Mortensen doing something insane, this fact comes from Aragorn's battle with Lurtz. Lurtz is the chief Uruk-hai who kills Boromir and is then defeated by Aragorn. During the fight, Lurtz throws a dagger at Aragorn, and Aragorn deflects it.
Apparently, Viggo Mortensen actually deflected that dagger on set, and on the very first take. It's no wonder that he ultimately bested Lurtz in battle. If the actor playing Aragorn is that committed to deflecting actual daggers with his sword, Lurtz doesn't stand a chance. Viggo Mortensen clearly wanted to become Aragorn as much as possible, even when it meant putting his life in danger.
When Viggo Mortensen first accepted the role of Aragorn, he made a few requests of director Peter Jackson. First, he requested that his character spend more time on horseback than he does in the books. That's because Viggo is a talented horseback rider, and he knew he could pull off some pretty remarkable stunts on horseback.
Viggo also requested that Aragorn receive more scenes in Elvish. That's the language that Tolkien made up for his books, so Viggo probably didn't know it before he started filming. The actor likes a challenge, clearly, and he wanted to take on as much as he could in these films.
Aragorn knows by the end of Return of the King that he will be taking the throne. Even so, Aragorn refused to assume his role as king until he had saved the world. Aragorn declined to be crowned king until he had defeated Sauron and the war had ended.
Aragorn has no interest in power for its own sake. He wants to use it to help those he rules over, and he isn't afraid to get his hands dirty in the process. Aragorn fights for his people, and he wouldn't even enter the capital of Gondor until he knew they were safe.
When Lord of the Rings began filming, director Peter Jackson still didn't have the right Aragorn. Initially, the role was played by Stuart Townsend, but he didn't last long. After one day of shooting, Stuart was fired and replaced by Viggo. That choice seems more than correct.
The fact that Viggo didn't start working on the films until after production had begun only speaks to what miracles these films are. All of the pieces had to come together at exactly the right times. Thankfully for fans of the trilogy, that's exactly what happened, and fantasy storytelling was changed forever as a result.
Viggo Mortensen wasn't the first choice to play Aragorn, although he may have been the right one. The role was initially offered to Daniel Day-Lewis, who is widely regarded as one of the best actors alive. Had he decided to take the part, the movies would have been irrevocably changed.
Viggo and Daniel share a lot of traits in common, though. They're both very committed to their work, and willing to go deep on their characters. Daniel ultimately declined the role, allowing Viggo to eventually step in. Although Daniel would have been great, he doesn't have the same ruggedness that Viggo brings to the part.
Peter Jackson's original trilogy was such an enormous success that it seemed only natural that he would try to replicate it. When he made The Hobbit trilogy, it seemed doomed from the start. Part of the reason Jackson's second trilogy didn't work as well was that Peter didn't have the same well of characters to draw from.
Because The Hobbit takes place years before the events of Lord of the Rings, Aragorn is only 10 when Bilbo begins his adventure. That's why only the elves and Gandalf were able to reprise their roles. Every other major character was either very young or not born yet.
There are very few characters in Lord of the Rings who are not corrupted by Sauron at some point. Even Gandalf, the wise wizard, is hesitant to touch a Palantir, the dark crystal spheres that Sauron used to spread his evil.
The fact that Gandalf feels corruptible speaks to the immense power Sauron wields. Even that power wasn't strong enough to corrupt Aragorn, though. We see that he willingly returns the ring to Frodo. What's more, Aragorn was able to use a Palantir and speak directly to Sauron without being corrupted. He's truly the very best that mankind has to offer.
Every author writes based on their own experiences, and Tolkien is no different. In fact, Aragorn's relationship with Arwen is based in large part on the author's relationship with his wife, Edith. It should be abundantly clear based on Aragorn and Arwen's relationship, but J.R.R. loved his wife a great deal. It's obviously the best reason to pay tribute to her in your definitive fictional work. The prose about Arwen and Aragorn is beautiful. It's clear that the affection Tolkien had for his wife was as large as the story he was attempting to tell.
While most of the actors in the films chose to use rubber blades for safety, Viggo Mortensen decided to throw caution to the wind. He used a steel sword and performed all of his own stunts. That decision likely stemmed from Viggo's desire to be as in character as possible throughout the filming.
Using a real steel sword allowed him to feel the exhaustion that Aragorn might feel during battle. Of course, it also probably made scenes where the sword was used a little more dangerous. Even so, no price is too high to create a sense of realism in high fantasy.
Aragorn is undoubtedly a mighty warrior. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll make a great king, but Aragorn's the full package. Even as Aragorn battles for the fate of Middle Earth against a massive army, he manages to leave that battle without any major or minor injury.
It's one thing to remain uninjured in a battle where guns are the primary weapon. In that kind of conflict, you're either hit or you aren't. In a battle where swords are the weapon of choice, there's much more likely to be some injuries. After all, close combat leaves enemies very close to one another.
As mentioned, Aragorn was raised by Elrond as a child. During the early part of his adult life, though, Aragorn transformed into the ranger we meet in Lord of the Rings. For 33 years, he wandered through Middle Earth, learning the land and its people.
Although Aragorn was reluctant to assume the throne, his tour through Middle Earth was likely great preparation for the job. By traveling the way he did, Aragorn got a chance to meet and live among the people he would rule. He knows Middle Earth well and understands its customs and people. That's why he's the perfect ruler.
When we meet Aragorn, he's first referred to as Strider. That's not his given name, but it fits him like a glove. Originally, though, J.R.R. Tolkien wanted to give Aragorn the nickname "Trotter" instead. This nickname was supposed to be based on the noise his wooden shoes made when he walked.
Instead, Tolkien went with something a little sleeker. Aragorn is a creature of the forest, capable of moving quickly and stealthily. If his shoes made an awful racket, that would be much harder to do. Aragorn is a strider in the truest sense, capable of moving swiftly and quietly.
Arwen and Aragorn are not closely related, but they are distant cousins. Elrond comes from a mixed lineage, which means he and his siblings could choose whether they wanted to mortal or immortal. Elrond chose immortality, but his brother chose to be a mortal.
Many generations later, Aragorn was born. That means that Arwen and Aragorn are distant cousins, but that never had an impact on their relationship. Their love for one another was too strong. It also means that Arwen wasn't the first relative of Elrond's to choose a mortal life. She follows in the footsteps of her uncle, choosing to live with Aragorn.