The 45-year-old Lord of the Rings hero and impassioned Mets fan stars in Hidalgo, just out on DVD.
SI: Hidalgo tells the story of a U.S. cavalry rider and his mustang competing in a 3,000-mile survival race.
What do you get out of being a horseman?
Mortensen: When you're riding horses, it's not just you against the elements or against your own physical limitations. You are actually connecting with this other being.
SI: Best sporting event you've attended?
Mortensen: The 1972 Olympics in Munich. I didn't have tickets, but there was a huge glass wall at the swimming hall, and me and some other kids illicitly climbed up to the glass to watch. I saw Mark Spitz and Gary Hall Sr. Since I swam, that was amazing.
SI: At the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, you worked as a translator for the Scandinavian teams. How did you that pull that off?
Mortensen: I was at St. Lawrence University in New York, and there was a call for volunteers with language skills. I spoke the Scandinavian languages because I'd lived in Denmark. The best thing was, I got free passes to events, and every night I'd watch hockey. The only game I didn't see was the U.S. final against Finland, because I had to go back to school.
SI: You were at the Miracle on Ice against the Soviets?
Mortensen: It was unbelievable. You were kind of hoping they'd win, but you knew there was no way it would happen. And right before your eyes, a miracle. It was such an underdog story. That's what fascinated me. Maybe that's why I love the Mets.
SI: How did you become such a Mets fan?