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Aside from acting, Mortensen's other artistic pursuits include fine arts, photography, poetry, and music.

In 2002, he founded the Perceval Press to publish the works of little-known artists and authors.

In September 2007, the film Eastern Promises, directed by David Cronenberg, was released to critical acclaim for the film itself and for Mortensen's performance as a Russian gangster on the rise in London.

His nude fight scene in a steam room was applauded by Roger Ebert: "Years from now, it will be referred to as a benchmark." In 2009, Mortensen appeared as himself in the film Reclaiming The Blade, in which he discussed his passion for the sword and his sword-work in films such as The Lord of the Rings and Alatriste.

Coincidentally, the play, about homosexual concentration camp prisoners, was originally brought to prominence by Ian Mc Kellen, with whom Mortensen later costarred in The Lord of the Rings.

In 1987, Mortensen guest starred as a police detective on the hit series Miami Vice. In The Two Towers DVD extras, the film's swordmaster, Bob Anderson, described Mortensen as "the best swordsman I've ever trained." Mortensen often performed his own stunts, and even the injuries he sustained during several of them did not dampen his enthusiasm.

Other well-received films include Appaloosa (2008) and Far from Men (2014).

He credited that decision and the very positive experience on the film as the start of his film career.15 on a 2015 survey of "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters" conducted by Empire.In 2004, Mortensen starred as Frank Hopkins in Hidalgo, the story of an ex-army courier who travels to Arabia to compete with his horse, Hidalgo, in a dangerous desert race for a contest prize.While it was reported in April 2009 that Mortensen had, at least temporarily, retired from film acting, Mortensen said he was misquoted.In a 2012 interview, he denied that he ever said he was retiring, only that he didn't have "plans to do another movie" at the time and that he was "taking a little break now.

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