TIGRE, Argentina (Reuters) - Oscar-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen, best known as Aragorn in the "Lord of the Rings" films, says he never felt as comfortable as he does now while shooting his first Argentine film in the country where he was raised.
The Danish-American actor lived until age 11 in Argentina, where he learned fluent Spanish and developed a fanatical devotion to the San Lorenzo soccer club. He returns often to the South American country, where he says he feels at home.
"I've been in lots of shoots, more than 40 movies, but I've never felt this comfortable," Mortensen told Reuters on the set of his new film, "Todos Tenemos un Plan" ("Everybody has a Plan").
"In 'Lord of the Rings' we were working together for years so there was a bond created. But very quickly I've had the same feeling here," he said, adding this was partly because the crew had to shoot for two months outdoors during the inclement Southern Hemisphere winter, which brought people together.
"But also because I was raised here. There are a lot of memories. I look around and the way people speak, talking to the crew each day, it's as if I were with my people," said Mortensen, who let a scruffy, salt-and-pepper beard grow for the film.
"Everybody has a Plan" tells the story of a middle-aged man who returns to the wooded islands along Argentina's Tigre river delta after a long absence. Desperate for a new start, he impersonates his late twin brother, only to discover that his sibling was part of a criminal gang.
Mortensen compared his latest work to other films about criminal underworlds including David Cronenberg's Oscar-nominated "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises," which earned him a best actor Oscar nomination.
Mortensen, who also paints, writes and co-owns publisher Perceval Press, is modest about his celebrity and well-known for his method-acting and zealous preparation for roles.
For "Lord of the Rings," he slept in Aragorn's cloak. For "Eastern Promises," where he plays a man with links to the Russian mob, he lived in St. Petersburg and the Urals to pick up a convincing Russian-accented English and gangster jargon.
In "Todos Tenemos un Plan," directed by Argentine newcomer Ana Piterbarg, Mortensen stars alongside Soledad Villamil and Javier Godino, best known for their roles in the crime drama "The Secret in Their Eyes," which won the Oscar for best foreign-language film last year.
"He's very deep in his way of preparing the character," Godino said, referring to Mortensen. "He's living in Tigre, he dresses like somebody from there and I admire this. He's an actor that connects with the character and he's a little crazy, crazy enough to play these characters that he plays."
Mortensen said his latest project has a small budget on a global scale but a big one for Argentina and huge potential for a country where he now hopes to return frequently for work.
"I had always wanted to shoot a film in Argentina," he said. "It's been a wonderful experience -- a real return...to see the boats, the dogs, the Argentine winter, is beautiful."
Reporting by Luis Andres Henao; Additional reporting by Kylie Stott