The Lord of the Rings—Starring The Beatles?
The Beatles stole the hearts of millions in the ‘60s, from screaming fangirls, to music lovers, to the men who wanted their boots and haircuts. But there was one person the Fab Four couldn’t win over: J.R.R. Tolkien.
According to Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, John Lennon was the “driving force” in trying to get Tolkien’s books translated to the silver screen in the 1960s. He even had the casting all planned out: The wise and ethereal George Harrison would have played Gandalf, boy-next-door Paul McCartney would take on Frodo, goofy Ringo would have been Frodo’s sidekick Samwise, and Lennon himself would portray Gollum. Lennon was also in discussions with Stanley Kubrick about directing.
Though the rest of the world was enamored with the Beatles, Tolkien wasn’t wild about the idea of them adapting his beloved characters. He turned them down flat—then sold the film and stage rights to United Artists not long after.
Five-plus decades later, there are no hard feelings—at least not on McCartney's end, who told Peter Jackson he was glad the Fab Four Fellowship never happened because he had enjoyed Jackson’s version so immensely. “It’s the songs I feel badly about,” Jackson replied. “You guys could have banged out a few good tunes for this.”