Photo: New Line Cinema/HBO Max
When you think about the four lads from Liverpool, what are the associations that come to mind? Hamburg strip clubs? Sure. Sitar music? Yes, definitely. Hobbits? Apparently. While doing press for his Disney+ Beatles docuseries Get Back, LOTR impresario Peter Jackson explained to the BBC that the Beatles really wanted to make a Lord of the Rings movie, but were stymied by the series’ author J.R.R. Tolkien. “I’ve been scraping together little pieces of information. I’ve been interrogating Paul about it. Ringo doesn’t remember much,” he said. According to Jackson, the Beatles were introduced to Middle Earth by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who gave copies of The Lord of the Rings to every member of the band (except Ringo, for some reason). 3/4 of the Beatles read the book while studying meditation in India, then pursued the film rights via Apple film producer Denis O’Dell.
Had the Beatles gotten the rights, the rumored casting would have been absolutely unhinged. Paul would have been Frodo, Ringo would have played potato-loving Samwise Gamgee, and the uber-mystical George would have been a natural fit for Gandalf. And John …John would have played Gollum. Okay, but who would have played Saruman? Pete Best? Would Pattie Boyd have been cast as Galadriel, only to get poached by Eric Clapton’s attempt at filming Dune? “Ultimately, they couldn’t get the rights from Tolkien, because he didn’t like the idea of a pop group doing his story,” Jackson said. “So it got nixed by him.”
(PS: Ringo did wind up playing a wizard later in life, starring as Merlin in the Harry Nilsson vehicle Son of Dracula.)
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