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What should you do if you want to become Aragorn, a Ranger of Middle Earth, and heir to the throne of Gondor?
Viggo Mortensen has offered up some sage, and delightfully nerdy advice for whoever takes on the role of young Aragorn in the forthcoming Amazon series: get reading.
In an interview with Collider, the infamously studious actor, who played the beloved role in Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, said that although he hasn’t seen the scripts and there are no actors rumoured for the role, the lucky actor should hit the books.
“I would say, not only read the book, you know, very thoroughly, that giant book of Lord of the Rings, but you could read some of the Nordic sagas. You’ll get some clues there as to where Tolkien got his information. Like, Sigurd the Dragon Slayer, and the Völsunga saga. Read that,” he told the publisher.
Norse mythology was a huge influence on Tolkien. One of these Nordic sagas Mortensen was referring to, in particular, is the Völsunga saga, the late 13th century Icelandic tale of the Völsung clan. If you’re lucky and into lengthy theatre stints, you might have happened to see it as one of the world’s most famous operas, Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
Within the saga, you’ll read the story of Sigurd, a legendary Norse hero who killed the dragon Fafnir — sounds familiar, eh, Hobbit fans? Plus, the saga unpacks the terrible power found within, you guessed it, a precious yet cursed golden ring called Andvaranaut, and a broken sword, Gram, which is reforged like Aragorn’s Andúril.
Tolkien himself wrote a book called The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, containing two narrative poems inspired by Norse mythology and the legend of Sigurd. You could read that too.
Of course, you’ll have quite a while to read up before the series lands. Amazon acquired global television rights to produce a television series from Tolkien’s beloved trilogy in 2017, under a multi-season commitment with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line Cinema.
The series will “explore new storylines preceding Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring,” according to a company release, implying that the show may weave in aspects of Tolkien’s The Hobbit — since that story involves a number of characters who later reappear in Lord of the Rings — if not wholly new plotlines that will expand the world of the books.
Some reports have suggested the storyline will initially follow the exploits of a young Aragorn.
The streaming service announced its chosen showrunners, newcomers JD Payne and Patrick McKay, in June. The expensive series is expected to cost around $500 million, considerably more than the original film trilogy’s $281 million budget.
Additional reporting by Laura Prudom.