It was 19 years ago when Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy kicked off with “The Fellowship of the Ring.” The franchise would become the highest grossing film trilogy in box office history, with each outing out-grossing the previous one at the worldwide box office. Jackson celebrated the anniversary in a big way this month with the release of a 4K remastering of the trilogy on home video, and fans have turned to HBO Max to stream all three films through the holidays. As GQ Magazine and TIME both declared this month, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy are essential Christmas movies.
With so much newfound holiday attention on “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Empire Magazine re-shared its 15th anniversary oral history with the nine-actor ensemble of “The Fellowship of the Ring.” The lengthy interview includes memorable tidbits about the making of Jackson’s epic fantasy franchise, most notably Viggo Mortesen’s reveal of the one J.R.R. Tolkien character he wishes Peter Jackson included in his three-film adaptation.
“I’d like to have seen what Peter Jackson would have done with the character Ghân-buri-Ghân, the chief of the Drúedain, wild men of the Drúadan Forest,” Mortesen said. “Seeing him lead King Théoden and his army of Rohirrim through the forest to join the fight to save Minas Tirith would have been thrilling. Towards the end of Tolkien’s ‘The Return Of The King,’ the Forest of Drúadan is given by newly-crowned Aragorn to Ghân and his people for their exclusive use, leaving it to them to decide that from then on if anyone else is to be allowed to enter it.”
Mortensen continued, “I suppose all of that extra material would have given the already thematically complex and quite lengthy movie far too long a running time and an overwhelming amount of information for viewers to easily assimilate. Die-hard Tolkien aficionados, however, might have enjoyed the character, as he is a one-of-a-kind noble descendant of prehistoric humans.”
Considering “The Return of the King” runs nearly four hours long, there was no time for Jackson to include Ghân-buri-Ghân or the Drúadan Forest without bloating the trilogy-ending installment. All three “Lord of the Rings” films ran at least three hours long, and still Peter Jackson found himself cutting things out of the theatrical releases. Mortensen revealed earlier this year that an emotional flashback between Aragorn and Arwen (Liv Tyler) got cut and happened to be one of his favorite scenes shot during the production.
“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy is now streaming on HBO Max.