Viggo Mortensen Finally Reveals How It Felt To Replace Another Actor On Set For Lord Of The Rings

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Joining a massive film franchise in a major role can’t be easy for an actor to do. What’s even more difficult, though, is when an actor has to replace someone in a major role in a massive film franchise. This is the exact situation that Viggo Mortensen found himself in when he snagged the role of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings franchise after Stuart Townsend was originally cast in the role. So how did Mortensen feel about the situation? Well, he’s now provided some thoughts on the matter.

Years ago, Stuart Townsend was set to take on the role of Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, but he was suddenly replaced by Mortensen the day before filming began. It was definitely an unusual and somewhat unfortunate situation and, when Mortensen reflected on it with The Irish Times, even he had to admit that it was “awkward.” He also revealed the he even met Townsend sometime later:

When I was told that I would be replacing someone I felt awkward about it. I wondered if I would meet the actor but he was gone when I got there. I was just thrown into it and had to do the best I could. That’s all I know. And I did run across Stuart after we finished – I think it was in Los Angeles – and said hi. I hear he’s a nice guy and I am sorry that happened.

I guess, at the very least, it is nice that the two did eventually meet, though Mortensen didn’t give any major details other than the fact that he said hello. One can only hope that both weren’t too uncomfortable when it happened.

As rough as they may be, situations like these do tend to happen from time to time, especially when it comes to high-profile properties like The Lord of the Rings. Some superhero fans may remember that the role of James Rhodes a.k.a. War Machine in the MCU was originated by Terrence Howard and that he would be let go after Iron Man and be replaced by Don Cheadle. Although Howard did actually get to play the role in this case, there’s a chance he likely still feels the sting of being let go from what is now a billion-dollar franchise.

In regard to Viggo Mortensen, he ultimately proved that his casting was no fluke, as he was praised for his performance as Aragorn. Even to this day, movie lovers still recognize him for his role in Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed set of films.

If anything, the nature of Viggo Mortensen and Stuart Townsend’s situation is only further proof of the rough and unpredictable nature of the film industry. Even when something seems set, plans can change at the drop of a dime.

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Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.