Were there other famous people attached at one point or another to adaptations of the J.R.R. Tolkien stories? There were! In fact, several non-Peter Jackson hobbit movies have already been made. You may have even seen some of them, when you were a little child, or when you were smoking
marijuana “hobbit weed” and looking at videos on the Internet this very afternoon!
If you have kids and/or once enjoyed the indoor sport of Dungeons & Dragons, then you will probably go see The Hobbit next weekend. But what if Magneto and that guy from The Office weren’t in the movie, then what? Other people would be in the movie. Other people have been in such hobbit movies. People like Andrew Breitbart’s father-in-law.
Andrew Breitbart’s Father-In-Law, Orson Bean
Game-show panelist Orson Bean actually was Bilbo Baggins in the animated 1977 version of the tale. Later, his daughter married Andrew Breitbart. According to Breitbart, Bean “was once blacklisted as a Communist back in the ’50s. Ed Sullivan called him to say he could no longer book him on the show.”
American badass/crazy director John Huston
Guess who John Huston voiced in the same Rankin/Bass cartoon production? Gollum! No, that isn’t true. He was Gandalf, obviously. This version is weird and kind of ’70s-Saturday morning, but it’s all right, too. Huston recites the whole long dwarf poem, about the Misty Mountains and all that, with Robert Plant.
John Lennon, as the Gollum
The greatest adaptation of Lord of the Rings to never happen was a Stanley Kubrick-directed live-action film starring The Beatles. John Lennon was the force behind this idea. (Lennon also attempted to make a movie of Philip K. Dick’s Ubik, which would’ve jump started the cult author’s move to Hollywood favorite by a dozen years.) In the Beatles version, Lennon had chosen the role of Gollum.
Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, as Sam and Frodo
The Beatles had completed two hugely successful movies, A Hard Day’s Night and HELP!, and they were looking for their next project—which would turn out to be the much less successful television movie/dope freakout Magical Mystery Tour. Had Lennon got his way, McCartney and Starr would’ve played the young hobbits who leave the Shire to start a band and get high.
George Harrison as Gandalf
How did Tolkien turn down this idea? He hated hippies! Also, he did not want his beloved book to turn into another marketing device for the Beatles. And something-something about “film rights.” But when it came down to it, Tolkien said no to The Beatles. And then, eventually, he died. So, never say no to The Beatles!
The Guy Who Was C3PO Was Also This Elf Guy
Anthony Daniels, who has made an entire career out of doing a better C3PO voice through a crappy little transistor speaker than Richard Dreyfuss could manage in a recording studio, was also the voice of … Legolas, in the unpleasant Ralph Bakshi stoner cartoon version of The Lord of the Rings. We are not even sure who “Legolas” is, so we’ll just leave this as it stands. (John Hurt did the voice of “Aragorn” in this version. Aragorn was Legolas’ wife, IDK.)
They never made an official Tolkien movie, but they sure made some crappy hobbitesque sequences for their 1970s concert film, The Song Remains the Same. Also, various characters and settings show up in Robert Plant’s teen-aged boy lyrics. And, on Monday night on the David Letterman show, the three surviving members were Letterman’s interview guests. When Letterman noted the band’s affinity for songs about vikings and sex, bassist/arranger John Paul Jones said, “You missed the bit about vikings having sex with hobbits.” And that’s how Marc Bolan was born! No just kidding that’s how orcs are born.
And finally, because why not, here is a picture taken by Peter Jackson, from Ian McKellen’s Flickr. It’s a picture of God wearing John Lee Hooker shades. Also, punk rockers never wanted to be the hobbit. There is no feature to be written about The Clash or Patti Smith or X optioning Fellowship of the Ring.