Lord of the Rings’ road to blockbuster movie stardom wasn’t all Kingsfoil and bountiful Hobbit luncheons. Peter Jackson’s vision for J.R.R. Tolkien’s vast world was incredibly ambitious, and a point of contention with production studios he attempted to convince to let him bring the fantasy saga to life. One particularly contentious producer in the saga’s history though, lived on in the movie… well, perhaps in an appropriate way.
Speaking to Dax Shepard and Monica Padman on Armchair Podcast this week (via Yahoo), Frodo Baggins himself, Elijah Wood, built on a story told by his fellow Shirefolk on what has somehow become the premiere Lord of the Rings story podcast around, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd’s Friendship Onion.
This time, it wasn’t a story of studio-desired Hobbit Murder, however. Wood discussed a little tale about Jackson’s fraught relationship with Hollywood producer (and disgraced sex criminal) Harvey Weinstein, and how the souring between Jackson and Weinstein’s Miramax lead to a certain sight gag hidden in the movies.
“[Boyd and Monaghan] were talking to Sean Astin about his first memory of getting to New Zealand for the first time, he had seen these orc masks,” Wood recalled. “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 went on to note that it’s fine to tell the story now, given the exposure of Weinstein’s long history of sexually harassing and abusing women during his career, and, as the actor put it, the disgraced producer is now “fucking incarcerated.” But now you now at least that somewhere out there in Middle-earth one of Sauron’s minions is running around with Weinstein’s face, too.
Miramax originally signed with Jackson to develop Lord of the Rings, having owned the rights to the book series in the first place. But the relationship between the director and Weinstein quickly soured when Jackson made clear his plan to turn Tolkein’s books into a trilogy, and Miramax began demanding that Jackson cut his plans down to either two films or just a single release. Jackson and Weinstein’s relationship took a nosedive, and eventually Miramax released Jackson on a tight turnaround to pitch his plan for Lord of the Rings to other studios — where it was eventually picked up by New Line Cinema, who let Jackson make the trilogy he actually wanted to make.
Even though Weinstein’s connection to Lord of the Rings’ production ended there, it would seem his legacy with Middle-earth lasted a little longer. Well, depending on how long whichever poor actor with a Weinstein Orc face lasted in a fight scene, presumably.