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Peter Jackson Faced Pressure to Kill ‘Lord of the Rings’ Hobbit and Refused: ‘He Stuck By His Guns’

Dominic Monaghan said it probably would have been Merry the studio wanted to kill off.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, 2001

“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RIng”

Courtesy Everett Collection

While promoting their new podcast “The Friendship Onion” during an interview with IGN (via Total Film), “Lord of the Rings” actors Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd revealed the studio pressures Peter Jackson faced to kill off one of the four hobbits by the end of his “Rings” film trilogy. Monaghan and Boyd played the hobbits Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck and Peregrin “Pippin” Took, while Sean Astin and Elijah Wood starred as Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins, respectively. All four survive the trilogy.

IGN reports that Boyd and Monaghan revealed a time when “Peter Jackson was being pressured from above to have one of the four Hobbits die in the film, even though they survived in the books. Luckily, Jackson didn’t succumb to the demands of the producers.” And if he did, Monaghan said it most likely would have been Merry on the chopping block.

“It’s a good job that didn’t happen, because it would have been me,” Monaghan said. “It definitely would have. There’s no way they are killing Frodo and Sam, and the only ones that would be left would be Merry and Pippin. They wouldn’t kill Pippin because Pippin has a really strong story with Gandalf. It would have definitely been me. I think Pete quite rightly was like, ‘This is a luminary piece of written work, and we need to stick close to the text.’ So, he stuck by his guns. Yeah, I’m thankful that didn’t happen.”

Last month during their podcast press tour, Monaghan and Boyd told Stephen Colbert that there was almost nudity in Jackson’s “Rings” movie franchise. Some “Lord of the Rings” fans expressed disinterest in the upcoming Amazon “Rings” series after a casting call leaked online informing actors they would have to be comfortable with appearing nude onscreen. Fans want to prevent the “Rings” series from including gratuitous sex, as HBO’s “Game of Thrones” did. But two hobbits almost got naked in the film trilogy.

“Here’s the thing. There was almost nudity in the movies,” Boyd said at the time. “[Screenwriter and producer] Philippa Boyens…she wrote a scene, because we’d been doing some kind of gags and winding people up…[and] she said, ‘Oh, it’s a new scene we’re filming next week, with the Ents. When Merry and Pippin are up Treebeard, he gets afraid and shakes his branches, which makes you guys fall, and as you hit all the branches on the way down, by the time you hit the ground, you’re naked. And Merry turns to Pippin and says, ‘It’s cold, isn’t it?’ And Pippin says, ‘Hold me, Merry.’

The nude scene didn’t make the cut, nor did Jackson kill off any of the four hobbits. Boyd and Monaghan’s podcast “The Friendship Onion” is now available to stream.

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