Filming a series of movies as sprawling and epic as The Lord of the Rings trilogy would, naturally, come with its fair share of bumps, bruises and breaks to the bodies of its cast and crew.
And Eru Ilúvatar knows that it did. There were broken toes, cracked ribs, dislocated knees, stabbings, lost teeth and arrests aplenty over the 5 years it took to film.
These events were all of them vastly memorable for fans and cast alike, but they are still well beaten when compared to Viggo Mortensen's two near death experiences whilst portraying one of pop culture's greatest heroes, the ranger Aragorn.
Someone was definitely smiling down at the heir of Gondor on these days:
1. Woodland Frolics
Nearing the climax of The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn is squaring off against Lúrtz, the Captain of the Uruk-hai scouts, in the woodland area near Argonath. Nearing the end of the fight, Aragorn stabs Lúrtz in the leg with a dagger, which the Uruk later pulls out and licks like a true villain.
The original plans for this scene was for Lúrtz' actor Lawrence Makoare to remove the dagger from himself, lick the dagger and pretend to throw said dagger at Aragorn, and miss him completely. The resulting shot would have had a digitally rendered dagger just missing Aragorn's head and impacting upon a tree.
But, due to Makoare's vision being so impaired by the prosthetics, he ended up flinging the dagger directly at Mortensen, who, being the natural badass he is, managed to deflect the real dagger with his own trusty sword. Now that's what I call a... close shave. Sorry.
The moment was so incredible, director Peter Jackson decided to keep it in the theatrical cut. You can see it properly below:
2. "The Water's Fine!"
In The Two Towers, after the skirmish against the Orcs and their snarling Wargs, Aragorn topples over the edge of a cliff after accidentally becoming attached to a riderless Warg.
In the following scene where Aragorn is drifting face-down in a river, which Mortensen actually had to do, both he and the crew completely underestimated the current and eddies of the river, and the weight of Aragorn's armor!
This led to Mortensen being dragged into a rapid, past the safety technicians, and being hurled into a wall and trapped underwater for a number of seconds until he, luckily, managed to slip out from under the current.
Add these to his broken toes, broken tooth and arrest, and I think it's fair to say that I'd want Viggo Mortensen on my side in a bar room brawl! Not that I have many, mind.
(Sources: Listverse, Wiki, Tumblr)