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Music

The story of how Mick Jagger nearly played the role of Frodo in 'Lord of the Rings'

The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger has certainly never been camera shy. In fact, it seems he’s grasped at most opportunities to get those large luscious lips in front of our eyes throughout his long and successful career. While much of Jagger’s career has been spent with his beloved Stones, he has departed for a number of memorable excursions of his own accord. Having always been a film fanatic, Jagger often used his platform to access both production and acting roles when he could. 

One of the earliest and most notable examples of Jagger’s involvement in cinema was his starring role in Donald Cammell’s crime drama Performance. The critically acclaimed film was polarising upon its release due to its conceited delve into sadism and depravity. Over the decades following its 1970 release, however, the movie has been heralded as a legendary, if obscure accomplishment. However, at the time of its release, it did cause shock among the more sheltered audiences; this was portrayed beautifully by the wife of a Warner Brothers executive, who, as legend has it, vomited out of sheer disgust during an early screening of the film.

Over the 1970s, Jagger would mainly stick to production roles and was deeply involved in creating films with the Rolling Stones to accompany their music output. One of the most notorious examples was the famous Cocksucker Blues directed by Robert Frank which chronicled the Stones’ 1972 American tour.

Jagger had a couple of big acting roles that unfortunately fell through too. In 1970, he was originally cast by Werner Herzog for the role of Wilbur, the assistant to the ambitious would-be rubber baron Fitzcarraldo in the film of the same name. Due to Jagger’s touring commitments with the Rolling Stones, he regrettably had to resign after having shot some of the scenes. The role of Wilbur was subsequently cut from the release, but the remaining footage of Jagger as Wilbur was included in the 1999 documentary My Best Fiend.

Jagger, once again, would be disappointed after hopes that he might have clinched the voice acting role for Frodo in Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated release of The Lord of the Rings. Jagger had heard that Bakshi was working on the film in the late ‘70s. Being a big fan of both the J.R.R.Tolkien book series and Bakshi’s work, Jagger didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to get involved. 

Bakshi remembered the events that ensued: “So I get a call from Mick Jagger — he wanted to come up and see what we were doing on Rings,” he said, adding: “[My studio on Hollywood and Vine] is full of college kids all graduated from art school, a very young group.”

He recalled that upon realising Jagger was in the vicinity, people started to become hysterical: “So I’m walking through the studio with Mick Jagger and the girls start to scream and faint,” he added. “I had 2,200-3,000 people working on four floors, and the word spread to each floor that Jagger is walking around, and people got from one floor to the other through the staircase, and there was thunder like horsemen coming down, shaking the staircase.”

He continued: “My son was there for the summer and he was terrified — he hid in the bathroom,” Bakshi said. “So that was just hysterical. [Jagger] wanted to do the voice of Frodo. I told him I would have used him easily but I was already recorded and everything.”

So, much to Jagger’s disheartenment, he wasn’t selected to play Frodo in the animated film. Upon its release, the film was relatively well-received, but one wonders whether it might have been more successful and longevous had Jagger’s celebrity status been present to buoy it. At the time, Bakshi had thought that Jagger might have played the role well, but he did have his reservations due to his lack of prior experience, especially as a voice actor. 

Watch the trailer for the 1978 animated film adaption of The Lord of the Rings below.