There’s a huge difference between acting “manly” and being a man.
Popular media is prone to glorifying stereotypical traits of masculinity that, while aesthetically pleasing, aren’t the kind of qualities young men should be identifying with or searching for in a celebrity role model.
However, despite what you might see via entertainment news or scattered across the covers of gossip rags at your local grocery chain, there are several male celebrities that possess the kind of strong and admirable qualities all young men should look up to.
Such is the case with fifty-five year old actor Viggo Mortensen. Mortensen (best known for his role as Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy) is an articulate, multi-lingual, soft-spoken man with more of an interest in satisfying creative hunger and being a father than whether or not his bank account keeps rising.
When he’s not in front of the camera, Mortensen keeps busy with projects close to his heart, such as writing poetry, photography, or playing music (most notably with underground guitarist Buckethead).
And as if this weren’t enough, Mortensen takes it one step further in the creative arena by overseeing operations of Perceval Press, his personal publishing house that helps artists of all types gain exposure.
Simply, put: Mortensen is an artistic workhorse.
One of the rare men in Hollywood culture, it’s well-known that Mortensen has turned down big-budget roles that would allow him to keep collecting big paychecks. However, that’s not where his interests lie and more often we see him taking on challenging roles that take him out of his comfort zone. For instance, in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises (2007), Mortenson not only learned Russian, but went completely nude in the infamous bathhouse fight scene that the film is known for, which takes not only guts, but patience and confidence in one’s own abilities.
It’d be easy for one to label Mortensen as the “method” actor, but the reality is Mortensen’s approach and attitude is much closer to your average working man—work hard, stay true to your beliefs, and you will succeed.
Interestingly, Mortensen knows that to live one needs to keep working. And if there ever came a time where he had to sacrifice his own wants to provide for his family, he wouldn’t think twice before taking a role that might be “beneath” his standards—as we’ve seen with some of his earlier roles, such as Lucifer in 1995’s The Prophecy and a backwoods cannibal in Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 (1990).
What young men can take away from Viggo Mortensen is that passion, dedication, and a firm grasp of the world we live in, helps build the qualities of what it truly means to be a man in the modern world.