Photo: New Line Cinema/HBO Max
When you think of the four boys from Liverpool, what are the associations that come to mind? Hamburg strip clubs? Certainly. sitar music? Yes definitely. hobbies? Evidently. While he does the press for his Disney+ Beatles documentaries Go back, LOTR impresario Peter Jackson explained to the BBC that the Beatles really wanted to make Lord of the Rings film, but were thwarted by the series’ author, JRR Tolkien. “I’ve been scraping together little bits of information. I questioned 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: Under the spell of the Ring to every member of the band (except Ringo, for some reason). Three quarters of the Beatles read the book while studying meditation in India, then sought the film rights through Apple film producer Denis O’Dell.
If the Beatles had gotten the rights, the rumor cast would have been absolutely unhinged. Paul would have been Frodo, Ringo would have played the 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 the best? Would Pattie Boyd have been cast as Galadriel, only to be poached by Eric Clapton’s attempt at filming Dune? “In the end, they couldn’t get the rights from Tolkien because he didn’t like the idea of a pop group telling its story,” Jackson said. “So it was sewn by him.”
(PS: Ringo played a wizard later in life, starring as Merlin in the Harry Nilsson vehicle son of Dracula.)
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