You’d imagine that Lord of the Rings legend Elijah Wood would have heard every rumor about the movie series by now. But even he was stunned by a number of the most shocking casting rumors from his celebrated trilogy.
You know the sort: Lord of the Rings fans have been discussing them for years. Some are brilliant, and some are awful. Nicolas Cage as Aragorn, and Una Thurman as Arwen, for example. Wood, who actually was in the Lord of the Rings cast (leading the way as the Ring-bearer himself, Frodo) reacted to each of the rumors with a combination of shock, and insight while speaking with Esquire.
He didn’t know, for example, that Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis was rumored to have been in the mix for Aragorn (we can only imagine what his method acting would have looked like), or that Russell Crowe was offered the role too but had to pull out due to a scheduling clash. “I honestly can’t imagine anyone else [as Aragorn] but Viggo [Mortensen],” he said.
“Sean Connery as Gandalf: I knew that,” the actor added, before sharing his amusement at the idea of James Corden as his devoted friend Sam. More casting rumors he hadn’t heard before included Liam Neeson as Boromir, Jake Gyllenhaal as Frodo, Kate Winslet at Eowyn, and – the best of all – Nic Cage as Aragorn.
“Oh my god!” He exclaimed, at the thought of Cage being his co-star instead of Mortensen. “That I also hadn’t heard, but honestly anything played by Nic is exciting and invigorating.”
Throughout his reactions to the casting, he was able to confirm one of the names: Uma Thurman as Arwen, who was eventually played by Liv Tyler. “That is very true. So, she couldn’t make the shoot because she was pregnant at the time.”
This alternate cast list for all the greatest Lord of the Rings characters is packed full of the biggest names in Hollywood and would have fundamentally changed the best fantasy movie trilogy. Even if the fact that Wood’s own surprise at most of the rumors could indicate that they’re not exactly all true, we’re still glad that we ended up with the cast we got. Sorry, Nic.
From the Hobbits, to Legolas and Gimli, to Eowyn and Eomer (and especially the wizards Gandalf and Saruman), every single cast member is absolutely perfect for their role. Their chemistry – despite the fact that they all spend so much time apart – is part of what makes the Lord of the Rings one of the greatest trilogies of all time, and as they do in the books, the characters share a sense of true fellowship throughout the best movies.
That really matters, because while Tolkien’s Middle-earth is filled with fantasy and wonder, it’s the relationships between the characters that define the story: their loyalty to one another, and the friction. In fact, part of the reason why Prime Video’s recent Lord of the Rings prequel series struggled with its debut season was because the Rings of Power cast was so expansive.
With so many characters and so many plotlines, the connections between them were muddied. As evidence, the strongest scenes were always those between Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel and Charlie Vickers’ Sauron, as well as those between Robert Aramayo’s Elrond and Owain Arthur’s Durin IV. These relationships felt genuine and complex and were the source of almost everything good about the show.
If Rings of Power season 2 can learn any lessons from the Lord of the Rings movies (as well as the successes and failures of season 1), then it should focus on a smaller group of characters, allowing the space to truly explore their relationships. That is, after all, what has always made Middle-earth tick.
For more on Middle-earth, learn about why Rings of Power season 2 is about to unravel Tolkien’s greatest mystery and see why we think the Lord of the Rings extended editions actually aren’t long enough. Or, learn about the new movies about to hit the franchise, including the War of the Rohirrim release date.