Mortensen’s big break came in 2001 with his starring role in the first part of the now legendary “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. When a young hobbit (Elijah Wood) stumbles upon the ancient ring of power, he teams up with a coalition of friends (plus a wizard, a couple of knights, a dwarf and an elf) to destroy the ring and prevent that he falls down the hands of the dark lord Sauron.
Part of the highest-grossing film trilogy of all time, The Fellowship of the Ring was a pop culture phenomenon, grossing $897.7 million (via Box Office Mojo) and receiving numerous accolades, including Oscar nominations for Best Picture , Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (for Ian McKellen), among other awards. It also earned a prominent place on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest American films (the only Lord of the Rings film to make the list) and was later selected by the library for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Congress as “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.
Mortensen played the ranger of Dúnedain, Strider, in his most famous role. Strider is a man running from his alternate identity as Aragorn, heir apparent to the throne of Gondor. Ashamed of the mistakes of his ancestors in the past and uncertain of his leadership skills, Aragorn retreats into his persona as Strider, a humble and able knight who considers himself a foot soldier rather than a king. This character arc was further explored and expanded upon as the series progressed.