Viggo Mortensen is an American actor who is most known for starring in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
You may be wondering how many languages does Viggo Mortensen speak?
He has a multicultural heritage and has lived in several countries so it’s natural to wonder if he also speaks multiple languages.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. This post will go into detail on what languages Viggo Mortensen speaks, how fluent he is in them and how he learned them.
What Languages Does Viggo Mortensen Speak?
Viggo Mortensen speaks 8 languages to varying levels. Viggo Mortensen speaks English, Spanish, French, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian and a bit of Russian.
Here are his levels in each language:
- English – Native
- Spanish – Fluent
- French – Fluent
- Danish – Fluent
- Norwegian – Conversational
- Swedish – Conversational
- Italian – Conversational
- Russian – Basic
What is Viggo Mortensen’s Native Language?
Viggo Mortensen’s native language is English as he was born in the state of New York in 1958.
Viggo had an American mother and spent part of his childhood in the US so naturally his first language was English.
Additionally his parents and family all spoke English growing up.
Does Viggo Mortensen Speak Danish?
Yes, Viggo Mortensen can speak Danish fluently as he is half-Danish.
Viggo Mortensen was born to a Danish father, Viggo Peter Mortensen Sr, and an American mother, Grace Gamble.
Viggo mostly picked up Danish as a teenager as he wanted to connect with his heritage.
He often heard his father speaking to his friends in Danish and wanted to be able to understand.
For this reason, he taught himself Danish and likely practiced often with his father.
He mentioned that he found Danish to be a difficult language to learn and actually thought it was harder than Arabic.
As a child, he spent a short period of time living in Denmark. Again, after graduating university, he returned to Europe and spent some more time living in Denmark.
During this time, he took up various jobs including driving trucks in Esbjerg and selling flowers in Copenhagen. At the time, he planned to become a writer.
Eventually he returned to the US to pursue his dream of becoming an actor.
Living in Denmark was easy for Viggo as he could speak Danish fluently by then and he has dual American and Danish citizenship.
Viggo regularly takes part in Danish interviews whenever he needs to promote one of his new films.
You can see Viggo Mortensen speaking Danish on a Danish TV channel in the video below:
Native Danish speakers have noted that he is fully fluent and speaks the language very naturally.
Did you know? Viggo Mortensen isn’t the only celebrity in Hollywood with a Danish background. Scarlett Johansson is also half-Danish.
Does Viggo Mortensen Speak Spanish?
Yes, Viggo Mortensen can speak Spanish fluently as he spent part of his childhood living in Argentina.
As a child, Viggo moved with his family to various places including some Spanish-speaking countries.
He lived in Venezuela for a short period but the family eventually settled in Argentina when he was around 2 years old.
They moved around Argentina continuously, moving to Cordoba, Chaco and eventually Buenos Aires.
As Argentina is a Spanish-speaking country, Viggo attended Spanish-speaking schools and he became fluent in the language.
Viggo has actually mentioned before that he was raised speaking both English and Spanish. He even once said that he ‘can get to the heart of the matter better’ in Spanish.
Based on this, Viggo is clearly incredibly fluent in Spanish. In fact, he actually speaks Spanish to a native level and has a standard Argentine accent.
At age 11, when his parents divorced, he returned to the US with his mother but his Spanish studies didn’t stop there.
In 1980, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish studies and politics from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.
After graduating, Viggo traveled to Europe and spent some time living in Spain as well as several other countries.
He also once starred in a Spanish-language film titled Alatriste where he played Captain Diego Alatriste.
Since 2009, Viggo Mortensen has been in a relationship with Ariadna Gil who is from Spain and the two actually live together in Madrid, Spain. No doubt they speak to each other often in Spanish.
How Well Does Viggo Mortensen Speak Spanish?
Viggo Mortensen speaks Spanish to a native level as he grew up speaking the language and attended Spanish-speaking schools.
Viggo Mortensen has actually taken part in multiple interviews in Spanish and appears to speak with ease. He has no problems communicating in Spanish at all.
Check out the video below which shows Viggo Mortensen speaking Spanish during an interview on Argentinian TV:
As you can see in the video, Viggo speaks with an Argentinian accent and is extremely fluent in Spanish.
Carlos from the YouTube channel Casa Spanish, who is a native Spanish speaker, analyzed Viggo’s Spanish in a video.
He said that Viggo is very fluent in Spanish which he found to be very impressive.
You can see the full analysis in the video below:
Does Viggo Mortensen Speak Norwegian?
Yes, Viggo Mortensen can speak Norwegian to an intermediate level.
According to Viggo himself, he can get by in Norwegian.
He does have some connection to the language. Firstly, Viggo’s parents actually met each other in Norway.
Additionally, Viggo does have some Norwegian ancestry as his grandmother (on his father’s side) was Norwegian. She came from Trondheim in Norway.
Danish and Norwegian are actually very similar languages. In fact, they are almost identical when it comes to vocabulary but they do sound a bit different.
As Viggo can speak Danish fluently, it was pretty easy for him to pick up Norwegian for this reason.
The reason why the languages are so similar is because they both descended from the same ancestral language – Old Norse.
You can see Viggo Mortensen speaking some Norwegian in the video below at a premiere in Oslo, Norway:
We can see from the video that Viggo Mortensen can speak some Norwegian but he definitely isn’t fluent. He appears to be at a conversational level.
Does Viggo Mortensen Speak Swedish?
Yes, Viggo Mortensen can speak Swedish to an intermediate level.
According to Viggo himself, he can get by in Swedish.
Reportedly, he even worked as a translator for the Swedish hockey team at Lake Placid during the Olympics in 1980.
Swedish is also closely related to both Danish and Norwegian with the 3 languages sharing almost identical vocabulary.
There are many words that look and sound the same but actually have a different meaning in Swedish though.
Swedish, which also descended from Old Norse along with Danish and Norwegian, is pretty easy for Danish and Norwegian speakers to learn which is why Viggo has learned it a bit.
You can see Viggo Mortensen speaking Swedish in the video below:
It’s clear from the video that Viggo can speak a bit of Swedish but he isn’t fluent.
Can Viggo Mortensen Speak Elvish?
Viggo Mortensen can’t speak Elvish fluently but he did learn some for his role as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings.
In the early 2000s, Viggo Mortensen rose to fame after starring as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
During the films, Viggo spoke frequently in the mythical Elvish language which is mainly spoken by the Elves in the fantasy films.
The language itself was created by J. R. R. Tolkien who wrote the books, meaning Elvish is a constructed language.
Whilst you can learn Elvish to a certain extent, the language itself is largely unfinished and there are no native speakers.
You can learn a fraction of the language but it isn’t a fully fledged completed language. Viggo did learn some of it though as part of his role in the films.
You can see Viggo Mortensen singing a song in Elvish in the video below:
Does Viggo Mortensen Speak French?
Yes, Viggo Mortensen can speak fluent French.
Viggo actually learned how to speak the Canadian variety of French.
In 2014, he then adapted his French and spoke the Algerian dialect when he starred in the film Far From Men.
In the film, he played Daru who was a schoolteacher that transports a prisoner to his trial. The film is set in French Colonial Algeria.
We also see Viggo speaking some Arabic in this film.
Viggo has never actually confirmed where he learned to speak French but it’s likely that he learned it in school as a child.
French is a very commonly taught language in schools across the world so it’s likely that he had some French classes as part of his education.
Due to his interest in language learning, Viggo probably spent a lot of his own time teaching himself the language too.
You can see Viggo Mortensen speaking French during an interview on French TV in the video below:
As you can see in the video, Viggo is pretty fluent in French and he was able to take part in the interview with ease.
He’s taken part in several French interviews over the years and can easily understand and answer questions.
Did you know? Viggo actually shares some languages with James Bond who can also speak French and a bit of Danish.
Does Viggo Mortensen Speak Russian?
Yes, Viggo Mortensen can speak some Russian as he learned some for a Russian speaking role.
Viggo first learned Russian for his role in the film ‘Eastern Promises’ where he played Nikolai Luzhin, a Russian mobster who moves to London.
At the time, he described learning Russian for this role as one of the best things about his job.
He said that he spent months studying the language and even visited Russia to brush up on it further. He actually paid for the trip himself as he wanted to do the job properly.
He also worked with a Russian translator to make sure his Russian was perfect.
He also said that he spent 6 months reading Russian novels and poetry and only listening to Russian music.
For the role, it was important that he spoke Russian with a British accent so he worked hard on this.
You can see Viggo Mortensen speaking Russian as part of this role in the video below:
This video shows Viggo speaking Russian in a movie so, of course, the script was already written for him and he likely worked with a dialect coach to perfect his accent.
It’s hard to assess his actual level of the language from a clip like this. As of yet, we haven’t seen him using his Russian in a more natural setting.
Did you know? Viggo Mortensen isn’t the only actor that learned another language for a movie role. Meryl Streep learned how to speak Polish for her role in Sophie’s Choice.
Does Viggo Mortensen Speak Italian?
Yes, Viggo Mortensen can speak Italian to a conversational level.
Italian shares many similarities with Spanish which means that many Spanish speakers find it very easy to pick up.
As Viggo Mortensen is essentially bilingual in English and Spanish, he wouldn’t have had much difficulty picking up Italian.
In fact, as a fluent Spanish speaker you’d already be able to understand a decent amount of Italian without doing any studying at all.
You can see Viggo Mortensen speaking Italian in the video below:
As you can see from the video, Viggo’s Italian is pretty good and he can definitely express himself and get by in the language.
It’s not quite as good as his Spanish and he does pause a lot to think of what he should say next.
How Did Viggo Mortensen Learn So Many Languages?
Viggo Mortensen credits his skill in learning languages to growing up bilingual.
He said himself in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that his secret to learning languages so quickly was growing up bilingual.
He grew up speaking English and Spanish primarily then taught himself Danish as a teenager.
It also helped that some of the languages he learned are very similar to other languages he already knows.
For example, Italian is very similar to Spanish and Norwegian and Swedish are very similar to Danish.
This meant that he already knew a lot of vocabulary in these languages and this essentially acted as a shortcut.
Additionally, Viggo is dedicated to his job as an actor and has learned some languages specifically for his roles.
He learned to speak Algerian French for one movie and studied Russian intensively for another.
He believes that perfecting a character’s accent is just as important as ensuring they look the part and are wearing the right clothes. He thinks this is less distracting for the audience.
Aside from the languages mentioned already, Viggo has also given speeches in Arabic and Catalan although it’s thought that he doesn’t speak these languages fluently.
It may surprise you that Viggo Mortensen speaks 8 languages. It surprised us too!
We’re super impressed that Viggo Mortensen has managed to learn so many languages over the years. He is the true definition of a polyglot!
Thanks for reading this post which answers the question ‘how many languages does Viggo Mortensen speak?’.