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Elijah Wood dropped by the popular Armchair Expert podcast on Monday, where he talked about his life and career dating back to his youth. And, of course, the Lord of the Rings films were a part of the conversation.
Podcast co-host Dax Shepard confessed he loved the story about how the films almost did not get made nearly as much as he loved the pictures themselves.
Essentially, Miramax acquired the rights to the J. R. R. Tolkien books in the mid-1990s and even put a few million dollars into development. However, after some time, it became clear the three films were not going to get made the way producer-director Peter Jackson and partner Fran Walsh envisioned, so they asked co-founder Harvey Weinstein to be allowed to shop the films at other studios.
“And Miramax said, ‘We will only give it back to you in turnaround, but two things have to happen. One: You have to go get it set up this weekend. And two: Whoever agrees has to agree to make all three at once,'” Shepard said, relating the story as best he knew it, which Wood said was accurate.
“The window of time was insane,” Wood jumped in. “They shopped it around town. Peter made a pitch video that’s pretty impressive, taken to a variety of places. Most people were balking at the notion of doing more than one film. The popular opinion was, ‘No, you have to see how [the initial movie] does and then invest the rest of your money.'”
Jackson eventually met with Bob Shaye at New Line Cinema, where an unlikely deal was finally struck. “I think the lore is that they were coming with two and it was Bob Shaye who said, ‘We have to do three,’ which is insane,” Wood said. “An incredible risk. Miramax thought there was no chance in hell.”
It was at the point in the conversation Wood dropped an anecdote that wowed Shepard and co-host Monica Padman.
“It’s funny, this was recently spoken about because Dom [Monaghan] and Bill [Boyd, who played Hobbits Merry and Pippin in the trilogy] have a podcast, The Friendship Onion. They were talking to Sean Astin [who played Samwise] about his first memory of getting to New Zealand,” recalled Wood. “He had seen these orc masks. And one of the orc masks — and I remember this vividly — was designed to look like Harvey Weinstein as a sort of a fuck you.”
Wood added, while all three were laughing at the reveal, “I think that is OK to talk about now, the guy is fucking incarcerated. Fuck him.”
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