It’s a miracle that we ever saw Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies. The idea of a trilogy of movies being financed and filmed at the same time was a colossal undertaking and one that had never been done before. Thankfully, the movies were a huge hit and their effect on the cinematic landscape ended up changing how films were made.
The Lord of the Rings is a highly recognizable name which was well-known long before the movies came out. This meant that a lot of people tried to get a movie adaptation of the books into development for years, with little success, save for the animated version produced by Ralph Bakshi.
Peter Jackson’s own version of the movies were also changed many times throughout development, with seemingly crazy ideas making it into production before being scrapped.
We are here today to look at the many different ways that The Lord of the Rings movies almost turned out differently– from the original Aragorn who left his post to the most mismatched lovemaking scene that would have ever graced the silver screen.
Here are the 15 Ways The Lord Of The Rings Movies Were Almost Completely Different!
15. The Original Aragorn Lost His Job
A lot of actors were considered for the major roles in The Lord of the Rings movies. The films came from a well-known property, but the scale of the production and the lengthy schedule likely turned a lot of people off.
The Lord of the Rings movies actually lost a leading man within a short period of time, as Aragorn was originally played by a different actor for a few days.
Stuart Townsend was originally chosen to play Aragorn and he trained for two months in order to prepare for the physical aspects of the role. However, he was fired from his position after only two days of filming for unknown reasons.
Townsend hasn’t had a lot of positive things to say about his time filming The Fellowship of the Ring or of the people involved with the production. This is also likely why no footage of his portrayal has ever been released.
14. The Slime Balrog
The Balrog is easily the coolest looking monster in The Lord of the Rings movies. This is why you see the Balrog (or others of its species) appear in The Lord of the Rings video games. The movies were restricted to one, as Durin’s Bane (the Balrog of Moria) is said to be the last of its kind in Middle-earth.
A different version of the Balrog was planned to appear in Gandalf’s flashback sequence in The Two Towers. We were going to see a version of the Balrog that had its flames extinguished by the water that it fell into. This version of the creature was going to be called the “Slime Balrog” and lots of different designs were created by Weta Workshop for its appearance.
13. Sauron Was Replaced By A Troll
One of the most notable things about Sauron in The Lord of the Rings books is that he never physically appears. He is spoken of in hushed whispers, which adds to his mystique.
The Fellowship of the Ring immediately removed any subtlety by showing Sauron as a giant guy in armor wielding a huge mace within the first five minutes of the film.
Sauron was originally planned to appear in Return of the King. He was going to talk with Aragorn and Gandalf at the Black Gate. When negotiations went sour, he would transform into his armored form and battle Aragorn.
This scene made it far into development, but it was scrapped and replaced with Aragorn fighting a troll. Sauron was replaced with CGI. A few of these scenes were shown in the Extended Editions, but the full segment has never been released.
12. The Lord Of The Rings Duology
Peter Jackson is lucky that he was able to find the financing to shoot three movies at once. It’s not surprising that he didn’t want to film each movie in a row, as there was no guarantee that he would be able to finish the story if the first movie bombed. This was the fate of Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings series, which will remain forever unfinished.
The first people who were interested in making The Lord of the Rings movies were the Weinstein brothers at Miramax. They were willing to finance a two-movie version of the trilogy.
This would have meant heavily condensing the story, which would have included cutting a lot of the characters. These changes would have included merging Rohan and Gondor into one kingdom, omitting Helm’s Deep, and combining Arwen and Eowyn into one character.
11. Arwen Fought At Helm’s Deep
One of the biggest ways in which The Lord of the Rings movies deviates from the books is with the character of Arwen. In the books, she is little more than Aragorn’s paramour.
In the films, the tale of an immortal elven maid giving up eternal life to be with a mortal man became one of the major storylines. This story was likely added in an ill-guided attempt to make the movies more interesting to women and its existence is polarizing among the fans.
Arwen was originally going to appear at the Battle of Helm’s Deep. She would be the one to lead the elven host to the keep and would fight alongside Aragorn during the battle.
10. The Prologue Problem
Fellowship of the Ring opens with a lengthy sequence that details the creation of the One Ring, the war against Sauron, Isildur’s death, Gollum killing his cousin, and Bilbo’s discovery of the One Ring. It’s a lot of information to take in all at once, especially if you are new to the story.
It seems that there was some trepidation among the film-makers as the movie came closer to release. Ian McKellen has talked about he was brought in to record a voice-over for an alternate introduction scene.
9. Frodo’s Frightening Transformation
It is speculated by both fans and the characters within the text that Smeagol was once a creature who closely resembled a Hobbit. He lacked the strong will of the likes of Frodo and Sam, which is why Smeagol murdered his cousin in order to steal the One Ring from him.
Fans have often wondered if Frodo would have transformed into a Gollum-like creature if he had kept the One Ring. The Lord of the Rings movies were going to include a scene that showed us this possibility and even shot most of it, but it was ultimately removed.
When Faramir is about to take the One Ring from the Hobbits in The Two Towers, we see Frodo go into a trance. It was originally during this part of the story that we would see the fantasy scenario of Frodo’s transformation into a creature that resembled Gollum.
8. The Unused Endings
The biggest complaint about The Return of the King was the multiple endings. Everything after the battle at the Black Gate seemed like it could have been an ending, yet the movie just kept on going. This rankled the more impatient fans who could have done without all of the extra Hobbit hugging.
The version of The Return of the King that we got actually had several endings removed. The documentaries on the Extended Editions revealed that endings had been filmed for other characters. We were originally going to see what happened to Gimli and Legolas at the end of the story, as well as witnessing the wedding of Eowyn and Faramir.
7. The Hobbit Problem
There were some fans who were surprised that The Lord of the Rings movies were being made before The Hobbit. This is because The Lord of the Rings is the sequel to The Hobbit, which means that a portion of one would have to go towards explaining the story of the other.
The reason The Lord of the Rings movies were made before The Hobbit was due to rights issues. Peter Jackson had fully intended to make a movie based on The Hobbit first, but the adaptation rights belonged to MGM. The movie rights to The Lord of the Rings belonged to Saul Zaentz, who was willing to work with Jackson and Miramax on the project.
6. Sgt. Pippin’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The first people to ever make an attempt at adapting The Lord of the Rings into a movie where none other than The Beatles. The Fab Four were serious about doing The Fellowship of the Ring after Help! with Stanley Kubrick as the director.
Peter Jackson has confirmed that this story is true, as he discussed it at length with Paul McCartney. The plan was for Paul and Ringo to play Frodo and Sam, George would play Gandalf, and John would play Gollum.
One of the reasons this version of The Lord of the Rings never got off the ground was due to Kubrick turning the band down. The biggest reason was that Tolkien himself turned them down.
5. The Treebeard Narrative Framework
The first movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings was created by Ralph Bakshi in 1978. The Bakshi version was animated and used a mixture of rotoscoping and live-action scenes that were obscured in such a way as to make them look animated.
The Ralph Bakshi version of The Lord of the Rings was a box office bomb. This meant that the planned second movie was never made and the story remained unfinished.
Merry and Pippin’s story concludes with them being saved by Treebeard in the Bakshi version. It was originally planned for the whole movie to be told in flashbacks, with Merry and Pippin explaining everything that had happened so far in an effort to spur Treebeard and the Ents into going to war.
4. Eowyn’s Defense Of Helm’s Deep
Eowyn’s story in The Lord of the Rings involves her desire to fight in battle alongside the men, yet she is held back by the wishes of her family and the demands of society. Eowyn later takes on the identity of a man and rides into battle at Pelennor Fields.
We never get to see Eowyn fight anyone in The Two Towers, as her combat prowess was being saved for her battle against the Witch-King of Angmar in the final film.
Eowyn was originally given several fight scenes in The Two Towers, though they were cut from the final version of the film. She was going to defend the women and children beneath the Glittering Caves from the Uruk-hai during the Battle of Helm’s Deep.
3. Frodo’s Freakout
One of the most hated story changes in The Return of the King by the fans of the books is the scene where Frodo tells Sam to leave.
This goes against all of the characterization that had been built up over the previous two movies and is only there to add some cheap drama to the Shelob sequence. Did he really expect Sam to just pick up his things and walk back to the Shire?
This scene was originally planned to be different. It was originally shot with Frodo screaming at Sam like a madman. The intention was to show the damage that the journey had done to Frodo’s mental well-being and was a sign of the Ring’s growing influence over him.
2. The Lost Led Zepplin Soundtrack
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are huge fans of The Lord of the Rings books. Their love for Middle-earth was strong enough that several of their most popular songs reference the series, with “The Battle of Evermore” and “Misty Mountain Hop” being the two prime examples.
It’s surprising that the band have never been involved with any of The Lord of the Rings movies. This is not for a lack of trying, as Ralph Bakshi wanted to approach the band about getting them involved with creating the soundtrack for his animated version of The Lord of the Rings.
1. Frodo Is Going To Need A Stool…
It made sense for the Ralph Bakshi version of The Lord of the Rings to be animated, as the technology didn’t exist at the time to do a live-action version of the films.
This didn’t stop John Boorman, who attempted to get a live-action version of The Lord of the Rings off the ground in the mid-seventies.
The John Boorman version of The Lord of the Rings was going to be one long film with an intermission. A lot had to be changed in order to fit into his version of the film, which included a few crazy ideas that Boorman came up with himself.
These included the Witch-King riding around on a skinless horse instead of a Fell-Beast and Aragorn using the Shards of Narsil as two separate weapons.
The most bizarre change in John Boorman’s version of The Lord of the Rings involved a romance plot between Frodo and Galadriel, which involved the two of them having a lovemaking scene on film.
John Boorman’s version of the film never came to light, due to his inability to find financing for such a massive project.
Can you think of any other ways in which The Lord of the Rings was almost completely different? Let us know in the comments!
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