Weinstein ‘threatened to hire Tarantino’ for ‘Lord of the Rings’

Disgraced mogul wanted Peter Jackson to turn JRR Tolkien’s book into a single two-hour film, says new book

Harvey Weinstein reportedly threatened to replace Peter Jackson with Quentin Tarantino to direct 'Lord of the Rings'. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Harvey Weinstein reportedly threatened to replace Peter Jackson with Quentin Tarantino to direct 'Lord of the Rings'. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

 

Harvey Weinstein threatened Lord of Rings director Peter Jackson that he would be replaced by Quentin Tarantino if he did not turn his vision for JRR. Tolkien’s book into one two-hour film.

A new book by British film writer Ian Nathan, Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson & The Making of Middle-Earth, reveals that Weinstein thought the New Zealand director had “wasted $12 million” in developing a two-movie script.

Weinstein told Jackson he had to make one two-hour film or he would be replaced by Tarantino or Shakespeare in Love director John Madden.

“Harvey was like, ‘you’re either doing this or you’re not. You’re out. And I got Quentin ready to direct it’,” Ken Kamins, a producer who worked for Weinstein on the project, told the author.

Jackson said he got a memo in June 1998 from Jack Lechner, the development head of Weinstein’s company Miramax, detailing “a more radical, streamlined approach”, which would allow the story to be told in one film.

“It was literally guaranteed to disappoint every single person that has read that book,” Jackson told Nathan.

Jackson called Kamins to say he and his partner Fran Walsh could not adapt the book in the way Weinstein wanted.“We’d rather have our lives and do our films and not deal with all this crap anymore. Tell Harvey to go ahead and make his film and good luck.”Kamins persuaded Weinstein to allow Jackson and Walsh sell their treatment elsewhere. New Line Cinema picked it up and Tolkien’s book was turned into a hugely successful trilogy:The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003).

Jackson won a best director Oscar for The Return of the King and the series won 17 Oscars in total.

Last December Jackson admitted to blacklisting actors Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino in response to a “smear campaign” orchestrated by Weinstein, resulting in both women falling out of the running for parts in the Lord of the Rings series. “I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs,” Jackson said.

“At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us. But in hindsight, I realise that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing. I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women.”

On Monday, Judd filed a defamation and sexual harassment lawsuit against Weinstein, alleging that he damaged her career after she refused his sexual advances.

The civil lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles superior court in Santa Monica, accuses Weinstein of causing Judd to lose a part in The Lord of the Rings in 1998 by making “baseless smears” against her.

The lawsuit alleges Weinstein “was retaliating against Ms Judd for rejecting his sexual demands approximately one year earlier, when he cornered her in a hotel room under the guise of discussing business”.

It added that Weinstein “used his power in the entertainment industry to damage Ms Judd’s reputation and limit her ability to find work.”

“Mr Weinstein’s abusive conduct toward others has caused no end of damage to aspiring actors and others in the film and entertainment industry,” said Judd in a statement. “As my experience and the experience of others shows, even a few false statements from Mr. Weinstein could destroy potentially career-changing professional opportunities. It’s time that Mr. Weinstein be held accountable for that conduct and for the ways in which he’s damaged careers.”

A representative for Weinstein issued a statement hours later saying the former studio boss had “neither defamed Ms Judd nor ever interfered with Ms Judd’s career”.

Instead, the statement said, Weinstein championed Judd’s work and repeatedly approved her casting for two of his movies - Frida in 2002, starring Salma Hayek, and Crossing Over with Harrison Ford in 2009. It also said he had fought for Ms Judd as his first choice for a lead role in Good Will Hunting.

Judd was one of the first women, in October 2017, to make public allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein, which soon afterwards evolved into the #MeToo social media movement against sexual harassment and assault. The Oscar-winning producer has since been accused of sexual impropriety by more than 70 women and is currently the subject of investigations by police in New York, Los Angeles and London.

Weinstein denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex made against him. – Guardian Service