Elijah Wood has a lot of memories from working on “Tne Lord of the Rings,” the wildly successful early-2000s film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson and produced by New Line Cinema.
But one anecdote reveals the production’s lingering hostility toward Miramax, the company founded by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, which had first-look rights to the ambitious project and almost didn’t let it go. It was as if Harvey Weinstein were … some sort of monster?
That’s basically what Wood, who played protagonist Frodo Baggins in the trilogy, said on a new episode of Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast.
Shepard and Wood discussed how Jackson and company wrested “Lord of the Rings” back from Miramax — which wanted it as a two-movie project, or even one four-hour film, per Polygon — and got it over to New Line under very difficult circumstances.
Miramax said sure, they could have “LOTR” back in turnaround, but a deal had to be struck in a weekend, under all sorts of extreme circumstances. But it worked out, with New Line’s founder, Bob Shaye, saying the saga had to be shot as a trilogy, no pause to reconsider, unlike Miramax, which had agreed to shoot only two of the films before stopping to see how they performed.
But the props department didn’t move on entirely from that initial bad marriage to Miramax.
“One of the orc masks — and I remember this vividly — was designed to look like Harvey Weinstein, as a sort of f— you,” Wood said.
In the land of “Lord of the Rings,” the orcs are dark, corrupted, brutish creatures who are loyal to the evil lord Sauron. Author J.R.R. Tolkien described them “with goblin-faces, sallow, leering, squint-eyed.” They are, in a word, ugly.
“I think it’s OK to talk about that now,” Wood added. “The guy’s f— incarcerated.”
Wood also talked about his most recent film, “No Man of God,” which tracks the relationship between FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier and serial killer Ted Bundy during Bundy’s years on death row.
Shepard joked that someone would soon be making a movie about an FBI expert who was talking to Weinstein in prison. But Wood wouldn’t even give that joke room to breathe.
“We don’t need to give that man any more” publicity, Wood said, to the agreement of all.
Weinstein, who’s serving a 23-year sentence in a New York state prison after being convicted of rape and committing a criminal sexual act, pleaded not guilty to multiple sexual assault charges in Los Angeles in July.
Court dates have been scheduled for later this month and again in December at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.