Elijah Wood has claimed that one of Peter Jackson’s orcs from his The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy was modelled on disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The actor — who starred as Frodo in Jackson’s movies — recalled how the creative decision was a “sort of fuck you” to the notorious producer.
“It’s funny,” Wood added when he spoke to the actor Dax Shepard on his podcast, Armchair Expert, “This was recently spoken about because Dom [Monaghan] and Bill [Boyd, who played hobbits Merry and Pippin] … were talking to Sean Astin [Samwise] about his first memory of getting to New Zealand [where the series was filmed]. He had seen these orc masks. 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.”
“I think that is OK to talk about now,” Wood continued hesitantly, “The guy is fucking incarcerated. Fuck him.” Following allegations of historical sexual assault during the height of the #metoo movement, Weinstein was convicted of rape in February 2020 and sentenced to 23 years in prison. The producer also faces further charges in California, for which has pleaded not guilty.
Wood recalled how Jackson decided to model one of the orc captains on Weinstein after having troubles with the producer during the early days of The Lord Of The Rings. As the actor explained, Jackson wanted to make at least two feature-length movies, but Weinstein wanted him to cram all three of Tolkien’s books into one film. The producer also threatened to replace Jackson with Quentin Tarintino or John Madden, the director of Shakespeare in Love, Wood said.
The window of time was insane,” Wood continued. “They shopped it around town. Peter made a pitch video that’s pretty impressive, taken to a variety of places. Most people were baulking at the notion of doing more than one film. The popular opinion was, ‘No, you have to see how [the initial movie] does and then invest the rest of your money.'”
Elijah Wood some of how Weinstein agreed to produce two films but capped the budget at $75m without informing Jackson. In response, the director and his team leaked the script and went looking for other producers. Eventually, the project was picked up by Bob Shaye, founder of New Line Cinema, who agreed to make three movies.
“I think the lore is that they were coming with two, and it was Bob Shaye who said, ‘We have to do three,’ which is insane,” Wood said. “An incredible risk. Miramax thought there was no chance in hell.” But it was a risk worth taking. All in all, the trilogy made $2.92bn at the box office.