One orc among many in the Lord of the Rings movies was designed to resemble Harvey Weinstein as a “sort of fuck you” to the notorious producer, Elijah Wood, who played the hobbit Frodo in the series, told a Hollywood podcast.
“It’s funny,” Wood told the actor Dax Shepard’s podcast, Armchair Expert. “This was recently spoken about because Dom [Monaghan] and Bill [Boyd, who played hobbits Merry and Pippin] … were talking to Sean Astin [Samwise] about his first memory of getting to New Zealand [where the series was filmed].
“He had seen these orc masks. And one of the orc masks – and I remember this vividly – was designed to look like Harvey Weinstein as a sort of a fuck you.
“I think that is OK to talk about now,” Wood said. “The guy is fucking incarcerated. Fuck him.”
In the first major case of the #MeToo era, in which woman have spoken out about abuse by powerful men, Weinstein was accused of sexual assault by numerous women. Convicted of rape in February 2020 and sentenced to 23 years in jail, he faces further charges in California, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Wood said the director Peter Jackson made the decision to model an orc on Weinstein after having difficulties with him on the way to making the Lord of the Rings films.
According to Wood, Jackson began developing the films at Miramax, which Weinstein co-founded with his brother. Jackson wanted to make at least two films to adapt the novels by JRR Tolkein, but Weinstein asked the director to adapt all three books in one movie.
Weinstein also threatened to replace Jackson with Quentin Tarantino or John Madden, the director of Shakespeare in Love, Wood said.
When Jackson asked Weinstein for permission to find a different producer, Wood said, Weinstein agreed but gave him only one weekend to do so and mandated that any producer must work on all the films or none.
“The window of time was insane,” Wood said. “They shopped it around town. Peter made a pitch video that’s pretty impressive, taken to a variety of places. Most people were balking at the notion of doing more than one film. The popular opinion was, ‘No, you have to see how [the initial movie] does and then invest the rest of your money.’”
Wood said Weinstein agreed to produce at least two films but capped the budget at $75m, a move he hid from Jackson. Jackson’s team leaked the script as way to garner interest among other studios and the project was picked up by Bob Shaye, founder of New Line Cinema, who agreed to make three movies.
“I think the lore is that they were coming with two and it was Bob Shaye who said, ‘We have to do three,’ which is insane,” Wood said. “An incredible risk. Miramax thought there was no chance in hell.”
The trilogy made $2.92bn at the box office and is now considered one of the greatest movie series ever made.