If history had gone a bit differently, it might have been The Beatles who first brought The Lord the Rings to the big screen.
On Thursday night, director Peter Jackson appeared on Global’s “The Late Show” to talk about his new documentary series “The Beatles: Get Back”.
In the conversation, one story that host Stephen Colbert brought up, was the fact that the Beatles had originally wanted to produce and star in a live-action musical film based on the J.R.R. Tolkien novels, and the host had to as Jackson how he would have cast the lads from Liverpool in the film if he had the opportunity.
“Obviously Paul is Frodo, isn’t he? Sam is obviously Ringo. So then you’ve got, well, John is Gollum obviously,” Jackson said.
“They cast themselves, and they did it right,” he added, referring to the band’s original plans. “Gandalf is George the mystic, magician, that’s perfect. I mean you’d have to age him up a bit. And I guess if you had have Gollum, and you had the four Beatles, John Lennon is the obvious one, absolutely, slam dunk.”
Of course, Jackson would go on to direct the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, garnering blockbuster success and Academy Awards recognition decades later.
In another recent interview with the BBC, Jackson talked more about The Beatles’ interest in making a “Lord of the Rings” movie.
“I’ve been scraping together little pieces of information. I’ve been interrogating Paul about it. Ringo doesn’t remember much,” he said.
He explained that the Beatles’ Apple film producer Denis O’Dell originally had the idea, and sent the band copies of the books when they where staring in India in 1968. The band members read the book and got excited themselves.
“Ultimately, they couldn’t get the rights from Tolkien, because he didn’t like the idea of a pop group doing his story. So it got nixed by him,” Jackson said. “They tried to do it. There’s no doubt about it. For a moment in time they were seriously contemplating doing that at the beginning of 1968.”
In the time since, there has been speculation about the band’s plans for the film, including the idea of hiring director Stanley Kubrick to helm the project.
“Paul couldn’t remember exactly when I spoke to him, but I believe that is the case,” Jackson said.
The director also revealed, “Paul said, ‘Well I’m glad we didn’t do it, because you got to do yours and I liked your film.’ But I said to him, ‘Well, it’s a shame you didn’t do it, because it would have been a musical.’
“What would The Beatles have done with a Lord of The Rings soundtrack album?” he added. “That would have been 14 or 15 Beatles songs that would have been pretty incredible to listen to. So I’ve got two minds about it. I would have loved to hear that album, but I’m also glad I got the chance to do the films. But those songs would have been fascinating.”