Elijah Wood revealed on the Armchair Expert podcast that an orc in Lord of the Rings was designed to look like Harvey Weinstein as “a sort of a fuck you” for the hurdles that the disgraced movie mogul made them go through to get the trilogy made.
LOTR director and producer Peter Jackson reportedly approached Miramax, which owned the rights to the J. R. R. Tolkien books, about taking the project to other studios due to creative differences. Weinstein, who founded Miramax with his brother Bob, allowed Jackson to shop the films with a significant set of caveats.
“And Miramax said, ‘We will only give it back to you in turnaround, but two things have to happen. One: You have to go get it set up this weekend. And two: Whoever agrees has to agree to make all three at once,” Armchair Expert co-host Dax Shepard recalls, per The Hollywood Reporter, which was confirmed by Wood.
Wood said most studios would only agree to do one film, and allow its box office performance to determine whether or not to move forward with a second and third installment. Jackson miraculously found a suitor in New Line Cinema. “I think the lore is that they were coming with two and it was Bob Shaye [New Line Cinema founder] who said, ‘We have to do three,’ which is insane,” he said. “An incredible risk. Miramax thought there was no chance in hell.”
According to IndieWire, Jackson leaked the script of LOTR after discovering that Weinstein limited the budget for the first two films to $75 million without informing anyone associated with the production. The hope was that the script alone could entice another studio to take a chance on the project, if the opportunity to explore options outside of Miramax were to arise.
“It’s funny, this was recently spoken about because Dom [Monaghan] and Bill [Boyd] have a podcast, The Friendship Onion. They were talking to Sean Astin about his first memory of getting to New Zealand,” Wood remembered. “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, the guy is fucking incarcerated,” Wood added. “Fuck him.”