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Viggo Mortensen, the actor for Aragorn, was offered to be Aragorn in the Hobbit movies, but refused the role because the character Aragorn wasn't in the book The Hobbit.

Did they even have a plan for the character by the time Viggo declined the role?
If he had accepted, how would this have changed the story?

I would like to point out that this is not a duplicate of Could Aragorn have been featured in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? The answers to that question are concerned with the possibility of a young Aragorn/Estel in Rivendell, and I find it rather unlikely Viggo would have played a 12 year old ;-)

4 Answers 4

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Was there a plan to have Aragorn in The Hobbit?

Very early in the pre-production process, back when The Hobbit was only going to be a two-film series, Jackson talked about the possibility of showing Aragorn protecting the Shire in a "bridging" film set between The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring. In a 2006 interview with Ain't It Cool (emphasis mine):

Jackson: One of the problems with The Hobbit is that it is a fairly simple kids story, and doesn't really feel like The Lord of the Rings. Tonally I mean. It's always may be [sic] a little worried, but with two films that kinda gets easier. It allows for more complexity. At [sic] that implied stuff with Gandalf and the White Council and the return of Sauron could be fully explored.

That's what [the writers] talked about this morning. Taking The Hobbit and combining it with all that intigue [sic] about Sauron's rise, and the problems that has for Gandalf. It could be cool. That way, it starts feeling more like The Lord of the Rings and less like this kids book. You could even get into Gollum's sneaking into Mordor and Aragorn protecting The Shire. That's what we'd do. Love to work with Viggo again.

However, this statement was made long before Viggo Mortensen was asked about the role. In an interview with The Guardian, Mortensen discussed being asked (emphasis mine):

In Peter Jackson's Hobbit film, several of the Rings cast reprised their roles. Was he asked to take part? "No. Before they started shooting, back in 2008, one of the producers did ask if I would be interested.

In 2008, the script was still under development. In a 2008 interview with ComingSoon.net (emphasis mine) Guillermo del Toro, who was still attached to direct at this point, said:

"Literally, like every week, what you discover writing the two movies, writing the two stories, it changes. So, every week there’s a discovery, and anything we say this week would be contradicted next week.

It seems likely that Mortensen was asked not because there were any specific plans to put him in the films, but rather to give the writers an idea of what was or was not possible. Obviously it was not possible, and the films developed without him.

If he had accepted, what would have changed?

It's unknown how far Jackson would have gone to write Aragorn into the movies. Even if we assume they remained largely unchanged, Thranduil's comment to Legolas at the end of Battle of the Five Armies:

Thranduil: Go to the North. Find the Dúnedain. There is a young Ranger among them you should meet. His father, Arathorn, was a good man. His son might turn out to be a great one.

Suggests that some version of Aragorn (whether played by Mortensen or not) could have appeared in the films as they were.

maguirenumber6's answer, below, provides some interesting ideas on things Jackson could have done, had he written the trilogy to include the "bridging" film as originally intended, but we'll probably never know what he would have done.

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  • Good answer. Notably, Mortenson was asked by a producer, not a writer or the director (be it Jackson or del Toro). Now, that producer might have been Peter Jackson himself, or it might have been some studio exec's cousin's assistant contacting Mortenson's agent as a courtesy, just to check his availability. I don't know of any statements about how serious the offer was, even before he said no.
    – Nerrolken
    Mar 31, 2015 at 21:31
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During the time in which the Quest of Erebor took place (it began in the year 2941 of the Third Age), Aragorn was, as previously stated, ten years old and being fostered by Elrond in Rivendell. He was not even aware of his own lineage as this was kept from him in order to keep him safe.

If the "bridging film" concept was carried out, we would have seen Aragorn as a younger man. After being told his true name and lineage, he spent a great deal of time in the wild fighting the servants of the Enemy, as well as in service to King Thengel, Theoden's father and Ecthelion the Steward, father of Denethor in Rohan and Gondor respectively. We could have also seen his successful raid on the Corsair city of Umbar. To my mind, his initial meeting with Gandalf would have been included, as well as his aiding of Gandalf in his search for Gollum. He would have taken part in, if not led, the guarding of the Shire prior to Frodo leaving with the Ring in 3018. What was planned prior to it becoming a trilogy cannot now be know for sure.

I hope this answer if of some use. I am new to these parts and I am only looking to contribute.

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    That's not true in the Jacksonverse. Since there is no gap of 17 years between Frodo getting the Ring and his departure from the Shire, the whole chronology before the Fellowship is quite different. This, at the end of the day, results in Elessar being 27-28 years old by the time of the Hobbit events. Mar 22, 2015 at 0:49
  • Thranduil's description of Aragorn as a "young Ranger" would still be applicable if Aragorn was still a child whilst in Rivendell. I don't doubt that he would have started to learn the skills he would need as an adult long before then. If Jackson et al were going to include "young adult Aragorn" they would have to be very careful not to mess up the timeline any further. Mar 22, 2015 at 4:33
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    I'll try to find a source, but I reckon the timeline is indeed explicitly very different from the Fellowship backwards. Although I agree he would still be called a ranger, I highly doubt he would be in the North at such young age; he would more likely be in Imladris. Mar 22, 2015 at 8:02
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    I know. I saw an opportunity for humour so I took it :-) Mar 22, 2015 at 9:39
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    This article that has just appeared on TheOneRing.net attempts to construct a history for Aragorn according to the "Jacksonverse". I'm posting The link here as I believe it offerers some useful insight with regards to the background of this discussion theonering.net/torwp/2015/03/31/… Mar 31, 2015 at 19:38
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It's notable is that in the Fellowship of the Ring movie Aragorn and Legolas show (at the Council of Elrond) that they already know each other:

                LEGOLAS
      This is no mere Ranger. He is Aragorn,
      son of Arathorn. You owe him your
      allegiance.

Frodo looks at Strider questioningly...Boromir turns sharply.

                BOROMIR
          (quiet disbelief)
      Aragorn? This is Isildur's heir?
                LEGOLAS
      And heir to the throne of Gondor.
                ARAGORN
          (Elvish: with subtitles)
      Havo dad, Legolas...Sit down, Legolas..

This is before Legolas is introduced; in fact it is his introduction: previously we only see him but this is where he is first called by name.

If Aragorn had appeared in the Hobbit movies, then doubtless his appearance would have covered how himself and Legolas came to know each other. This indeed is touched on in Thranduil's parting words to Legolas in Battle of Five Armies:

Go to the North. Find the Dúnedain. There is a young Ranger among them you should meet. His father, Arathorn, was a good man. His son might turn out to be a great one.

So it's evidently something that Peter Jackson wanted to have included, even in a movie that didn't feature Aragorn.

Possibilities for this, within the bounds of the Hobbit movies as they exist today, would include:

  • Aragorn in Mirkwood,
  • Aragorn in Lake Town,
  • Aragorn at Gundabad,
  • Aragorn at the Battle of Five Armies itself (possibly accompanying Gandalf, although this is conjectural).

Another conjectural plot-point would be how, and why, Aragorn rejected his original claim to Kingship; again quoting from the Fellowship of the Ring:

                GANDALF
      There is one who could unite them, one
      who could reclaim the throne of Gondor.
                ELROND
      He turned from that path a long time ago.
      He has chosen exile.

This is something that is referenced frequently enough in the Lord of the Rings movies, but without an explanation being given, so it's a loose end that Peter Jackson may have wished to tie up.

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  • Is the thrown/throne typo in the original script?
    – TRiG
    Jan 23, 2020 at 15:58
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He would have had a cameo, possibly with Arwen

When discussing the reference to Aragorn in director's commentary to The Battle of the Five Armies, Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens talk about their desire to have Viggo Mortensen appear in the movies.

They do not mention what it would have been, but say that they did not have any ideas of an actual plot relevant role, and so it would have just been a cameo, and it felt too forced.

Philippa Boyens: But what that was, it was a little homage that we wanted to do and because we'd always wished we could have had Aragorn in these films.
Philippa Boyens: We dearly dearly wanted to be able to have Viggo back in these films
Peter Jackson: I know, we did actually try to figure out a way to get a cameo, even if it was a cameo for Aragorn and actually for Arwen too. We tried to have Liv Tyler in the film. Because we wanted to just try to make that connection but we couldn't think of a way of doing it without making it too geeky because we didn't want it to be less than what it could have been otherwise. It's no point of doing it.
Philippa Boyens: No, the only thing you could have done was this, it was so slight and it would have left the audience just wanting more and so it wasn't worth it, it wasn't. I mean there was a real function for Legolas in these stories, there was a real function for Elrond in these stories, there was a real function for Gollum, the characters that turn up in these stories from The Lord of the Rings trilogy are ones that have
Peter Jackson: but also I think that the story of Aragorn is something to look forward to now in the next movie because it is the very next film.
Philippa Boyens: Yeah
The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition [2:17:34 - 2:18:42]

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    Because we wanted to just try to make that connection <— unfortunately... Nov 24, 2021 at 6:23
  • there was a real function for Legolas in these stories, there was a real function for Elrond in these stories, there was a real function for Gollum, the characters that turn up in these stories from The Lord of the Rings trilogy ... — ugh. There was a real function for Gollum and Elrond because they were literally characters in the book. Legolas, not so much, anyone could have played his rôle, which could have been just a cameo. More accurate to say "The characters from these stories that turn up in The Lord of the Rings" (for Gollum/Elrond). But enough griping from me... Nov 24, 2021 at 6:24

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