Viggo Mortensen Reveals His Unusual Audition Tactic That Made People Think He Was A Stoner

Mortensen says he got the nickname "Sleepy Mortensen" because of his odd pre-audition tactic.


Actor Viggo Mortensen, who famously portrayed Aragorn in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings series, has revealed his unusual audition tactic that led other actors to believe he was a stoner. Speaking to James Corden, Mortensen early in his career he used to intentionally fall asleep in the waiting room for his auditions to help calm his nerves as he awaited his turn.

The unintended consequence of this was that other actors thought he was a stoner. They even gave him a pet name: "Sleepy Mortensen."

"I used to get very nervous when I was in the waiting room, sitting there with other guys, knowing they're your competition. My automatic way of dealing with it, I guess, was that I would just fall asleep," he said. "If I was nervous, I'd sleep so I wouldn't be stressed. I would just doze off. Snoring away. And then somebody would come and wake me up when it was my turn. I found out sometime later that I had gotten a reputation for being a stoner or something. So... they just thought, 'That's Sleepy Mortensen, he's probably smoking too much weed.'"

The other actors who saw Mortensen in this state thought he was a big fan of the jazz cigarette, but no, it was just Mortensen's way of dealing with anxiety. Years in the future, Mortensen met one of his contemporaries who was often up for the same roles, and Mortensen said this person--whom he did not name--told Mortensen that he was being dastardly with this tactic. This actor thought Mortensen was falling asleep on purpose to make the other actors in the waiting room think he barely cared.

"Years later, I ran into one of the guys who was always the competition, and got most of the roles, he said, 'That was a really cruel thing you used to do to us.' I said, 'What thing?' 'Oh you did this psychological warfare thing where you'd pretend to be sleeping before the audition.'"

Mortensen laughed in the interview because it's so far from the truth because the irony is that he was not feeling confident but instead very nervous.

Well, it all worked out for Mortensen in the end. He got cast as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, a performance that would define his career, and he went on to earn Oscar nominations for Eastern Promises, Captain Fantastic, and Green Book. He just recently wrote and directed his first movie, Falling, which is out now.

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