This December marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Fellowship of the Ring, the first film in Peter Jackson’s epic three-movie adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy classic, The Lord of the Rings. This anniversary, coupled with the release of “Get Back,” Jackson’s epic, three-part Beatles documentary, has put the celebrated director back in the news for his impressive achievements.
It turns out that LOTR almost wasn’t his.
The Independent put together an oral history of the making of Fellowship, and they spoke to all manner of people involved, including Jackson’s manager Ken Kamins, who let slip a tantalizing little nugget about some early production troubles. Apparently, Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced producer who was in control of Miramax, wasn’t happy with the length of the films, and threatened to replace Jackson with… Quentin Tarantino.
“Harvey would go from acting empathetically to turning on a dime into Mr. Hyde and would threaten Peter,” Kamins said. “He’d threaten to get Quentin Tarantino to direct if Peter couldn’t do it in one film that was two-and-a-half hours — which was the exact opposite of what he initially told us he wanted.”
Eventually, these conflicts would get the project moved to New Line, out of Weinstein’s reach. But we can’t help but wonder what a Tarantino Middle Earth would look like. Tarantino himself is no stranger to long movies, so not sure how his involvement would have solved that issue, but something tells me the violence would have been pretty amped up. Gollum would have been a hell of a lot freakier, Samuel L. Jackson might have made a killer Gandalf, and we’d have gotten a lot more looks at the hobbits’ hairy feet.
No matter how exciting those ideas might be to Tarantino fans, I think it’s safe to say that LOTR was better off in Peter Jackson’s hands.