Critically acclaimed actor Viggo Mortensen made his feature-film debut playing Alexander Godunov's Amish brother in Witness (1985). The suave, handsome actor has subsequently portrayed a wide variety of characters, often unapologetic bad boys, opposite some of Hollywood's most popular actors, including Sylvester Stallone, Demi Moore, and Nicole Kidman.
Born in New York City, on October 20, 1958, to an American mother and a Danish father, Mortensen spent his first years in Manhattan and the rest of his youth living in Argentina, Venezuela, and Denmark. Returning to Manhattan in the early '80s, he studied acting at Warren Robertson's Theatre Workshop and then embarked upon a stage career before moving to Los Angeles. There, he earned a Dramalogue Critics Award for his performance in a Coast Playhouse production of Bent and became a familiar figure on the L.A. punk scene (something that was aided by his brief marriage to Exene Cervenka, lead singer of the punk band X). Following his debut in Witness, Mortensen began working steadily in a number of diverse films, becoming a familiar but not instantly recognizable face to filmgoers. He did some of his more memorable work as a series of louts and villains, in such films as The Indian Runner (1991, written and directed by Sean Penn), which cast him as David Morse's morally questionable brother; Carlito's Way (1993), in which he played a paraplegic ex-con who tries to snitch on Al Pacino; and The Prophecy (aka God's Army) (1995), which required the actor, in the role of Lucifer, to rip out Christopher Walken's heart and then eat it.