Lord of the Rings is one of the best cinematic franchises around. However, Peter Jackson’s beloved trilogy of JRR Tolkien’s work could have looked a lot different. In fact, it turns out that Sam Neill (from Jurassic Park fame) was originally considered for a role. However, in a sad twist of fate, the star made one of his worst movies instead of heading to Middle-Earth.
The first Lord of the Rings movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, hit theatres in 2001. If you are a Sam Neill fan, you may also remember that 2001 was the same year Jurassic Park 3 was released. That is right, Neill, who was being eyed for the Lord of the Rings cast had to turn down the iconic franchise because of scheduling conflicts.
“Interesting, isn’t it? There’s always conflicts,” Neill said during an interview with CinemaBlend. “I was asked to do something good in The Lord of the Rings, but that conflicted with Jurassic Park III. People’s careers can often be extremely random. I always just think one’s lucky to have a career at all. But there’s not a lot you can do to shape your own career, really. It’s something that happens very haphazardly.”
Now Jurassic Park is also one of the best movies of all time, so it’s nothing to sneer at. It’s arguably Neill’s most recognizable role. But let’s be honest, Jurassic Park 3 isn’t great and was also the lowest-performing film in the franchise to date.
Considering how Lord of the Rings went down in history and how its third film, Return of the King, racked up a number of Oscars, too, we can imagine Neill sees his time in 2001 as bittersweet.
On the one hand, Jurassic Park 3 was his final flick in the science fiction movies until Jurassic World Dominion. On the other, he never got to experience the One Ring‘s true power or kick Sauron’s cinematic butt.
Although Neill didn’t disclose what Lord of the Rings character he was being eyed to play in the interview, it’s rumored that he was considered for Gandalf. This would make sense since Gandalf had a long list of potential actors before Ian McKellen bagged the gig.
Sean Connery, Patrick Stewart, Patrick McGoohan, Anthony Hopkins, and more all turned down the part. So, at least Neill is in good company. And honestly, we couldn’t imagine anyone other than McKellen as the famous wizard, so perhaps things all worked out for the best, right?