Peter Jackson was on ‘Charlie Rose’ last Friday (Feb 22nd). The interview was a full hour with no commercial breaks, and featured some very candid moments including PJ’s story on how this film ALMOST did not get made. The show was an extremely enjoyable watch (even the lady Xoanon was enthralled…hence why I love her so much). Take a look at the pics below, and read the full transcript!

This transcript has not been checked against videotape and cannot, for that reason, be guaranteed as to accuracy of speakers and spelling of names. (JES, TW)

CHARLIE ROSE Transcript #3146

February 22, 2002

CHARLIE ROSE, Host: Lord of the Rings goes to this year’s Academy Award competition not only with big box office sales but also the most number of Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and its director, Peter Jackson.

PETER JACKSON, Filmmaker: Tolkien thought that he wanted to create a mythology for his country, for England, and this is what he did. He spent his lifetime doing the stories of Middle Earth and the saga– you know– and the history, the history of the– the concept, as he always says– he said, “I imagine this took place in England and Europe some 7,000 or 8,000 years ago.”

This is– this– and so we thought, “OK. OK, so what we’ll do with the movie is we’ll pretend that these guys existed. It’s history. It was real, that– let’s make the movie with that weight of authenticity in the designs, the look, the performances, everything.” So that– that was our mantra.

CHARLIE ROSE: Peter Jackson for the hour — tonight.

Director Says Heart-and-Soul Comes Across in `Rings’

CHARLIE ROSE: Director Peter Jackson is here. While you may not have heard of his first two films — Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles– or even his 1994 Oscar-nominated Heavenly Creatures, you most certainly have heard about his latest. It is The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It has grossed over $700 million to date and has been nominated for 13 Academy Awards, including three for Jackson — Best Film, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The film is based on the first of the three mythological novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. It is the story of a Hobbit named Frodo and his quest to keep a magical ring out of the hands of evil.

Here is a scene from the film.

[excerpt from “The Fellowship of the Ring”]

CHARLIE ROSE: I am pleased to welcome Peter Jackson to this table for the first time.


PETER JACKSON, Filmmaker: Thank you. Thank you.

CHARLIE ROSE: And congratulations.

PETER JACKSON: Thank you very much.



CHARLIE ROSE: Is this the movie you set out to make?

PETER JACKSON: Yeah. I mean, it’s very interesting because as a director, I kind of– I have got a good ability, at the very beginning, when we’re first starting to write the screenplay, I’ve got a good ability to imagine the film in my head. Like, you know, even the very first page of the script, as we do it, I can start to imagine the camera angles, the music. I can start to feel how the film’s coming together. And I sort of have this imaginary film starting to be put together. And that’s right back at the beginning and– I mean, this case, we started this process about five or six years ago. And then what happens during the course of the movie is that this– this film that’s playing in my head always gets modified because as you design the sets, you know, then the sets that we’ve designed replace the ones that I originally sort of imagined. And then as the actors come on board, their faces put [unintelligible] to the characters I imagined.

And so my little internal movie is always changing and being updating, so that it’s– it’s– you know, it always ends up better. Everything– every time my film in my head gets changed, it’s improving all the time because– [crosstalk] All these other people are coming on board and giving their input–


PETER JACKSON: –into it. And so yeah, I mean, I’m incredibly proud of the film. I– I– you know, it’s– well, I mean, the reality is, it’s probably bigger than what I– what I imagined because I– you know, I imagined something at the beginning– I didn’t imagine Ian McKellen playing Gandalf at the beginning. You know, and when he comes on board, wow– and Elijah Wood and all the other actors.

It’s– so it’s exciting. Creatively, it’s exciting because there’s always new things happening when everybody else gets involved.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah. What’s amazing about it is that you have made three films in one–


CHARLIE ROSE: –span of time.



PETER JACKSON: Yes. But that was– it’s really, you know, a tribute to New Line Cinema, to Michael Lynne and Bob Shaye, because they– they’ve taken a gamble that I think will probably go down in history as one of the all-time, you know, Hollywood gambles–


PETER JACKSON: –because, you know, nobody– nobody has ever said, “We’ll pay for three films,” three big-budget, expensive, complicated films.


PETER JACKSON: “Well shoot them all together before we’ve released the first one,” because we don’t even know if the first one’s going to succeed or not at the box office. I mean, it’s a hell of a risk.

CHARLIE ROSE: And a hell of a burden on– I mean, a hell of a weight for you to carry.

PETER JACKSON: Yeah. Yeah. It has been. I mean, there hasn’t been a single day while we were shooting that we– that we didn’t feel that way.

CHARLIE ROSE: That you didn’t feel the weight of “We’ve got a lot riding on this.”

PETER JACKSON: Of the responsibility. I mean, the fate of the studio, to some degree, we were told, was– was riding on these movies, that it would be– it would have disastrous consequences for the studio, for the company, if these films didn’t work– if the first film didn’t work, in actual fact.

CHARLIE ROSE: Did you– as you were making these– I mean, can we expect the second and third– the first is out. There’s a lot of good reviews, and look at all the nominations. And people are saying terrific things about it, for the most part. Do you think the second film and the third film will match that?


CHARLIE ROSE: That’s the other side.

PETER JACKSON: They have to be better, don’t they?

They have to be because that’s sort of the way it needs to work. It’s an interesting process because what you have to imagine is that– I’m not really in a position now, as– as the– you know, the director of The Fellowship of the Ring, which was released at Christmas–


PETER JACKSON: –and it’s been, as you say, reasonably successful. I’m not–

CHARLIE ROSE: I’d say reasonably successful, yeah.

PETER JACKSON: I’m not really in the position to sort of say, “OK, now I’m about to start working on the next film, so I’ve got to now do this, this and this to the next film to make it bigger and better. And where we had this in the first one, we’re going to have 10 of those in the second one,” you know, because I’m not really in that position because they’re all filmed. They were all done at the same time.


PETER JACKSON: So to some degree, even though we edit and– you know, we’re [unintelligible] the movies. And we’re still able to do a little bit of creativity and shaping and things, there’s definitely more opportunity for that– the films– the films are what they are. The three of them were shot together at the same time. They’re a continuation of the same story.

CHARLIE ROSE: So if you like the first one, you should like the second one.

PETER JACKSON: Yeah, because we–

CHARLIE ROSE: And even moreso because you’ll be more into the story.

PETER JACKSON: We made them at the same time, yeah.


PETER JACKSON: They were all filmed together, you know? So we were just– we were just on a roll–


PETER JACKSON: –going through this great sort of essentially nine-hour story.

CHARLIE ROSE: Now, where– what’s the status of second and third?

PETER JACKSON: Well, there’s rough cuts of both of those films. I mean, I’ve seen them both, and they’re very– very, very rough form. And what we’re doing now with the second one– because that’s where all– all of our attention is on the second movie, and I’m about halfway through doing a proper kind of fine cut.

CHARLIE ROSE: Here you are, at 18 years old, in New Zealand– English parents who moved to New Zealand.


CHARLIE ROSE: Lived there, early on began to make little 8-millimeter films.


CHARLIE ROSE: At 18 years old, you read [unintelligible]




CHARLIE ROSE: At 34, you start making the movie.

PETER JACKSON: Yeah, 34, 35.

CHARLIE ROSE: Began, right.


CHARLIE ROSE: The whole process.


CHARLIE ROSE: You’re now 40, 41?

PETER JACKSON: I’m 40, yeah.

CHARLIE ROSE: You’re 40.

PETER JACKSON: Yeah. [crosstalk]

CHARLIE ROSE: –a lot of your time–

PETER JACKSON: Yes. Yes. I mean, it’s going to be eight years. From the beginning to the end of the third movie, when we release it next Christmas, it’s going to be eight years. But I– [unintelligible] I mean, I think they’re eight years incredibly well spent.


PETER JACKSON: I wanted to be a filmmaker, as you say, ever since I was a 10-year-old. And you know, The Lord of the Rings– for somebody that loves escapist cinema like I do, that loves visual effects, that loves films that sort of transport you away– and that’s what I want to do with my life. I mean, I’m very, very lucky. I’m one of those people that get to do their hobby as a career–


PETER JACKSON: –basically. I mean, that’s what I–

CHARLIE ROSE: And knew early what you wanted to do.

PETER JACKSON: Yeah. And– and– but I– you know, I regard myself as being incredibly lucky, and especially, you know– I mean, The Lord of the Rings is the ultimate project. I mean, why wouldn’t I want to spend eight years on three Lord of the Rings films? I mean, why not?


PETER JACKSON: It is a wonderful book to adapt. It’s fantastic.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah. But then are you going to go through the rest of your life, people saying, “How can you top this?” Or do you have to do something dramatically different by–

PETER JACKSON: Dramatically different, I would say. I mean, I don’t have a career planned, but I– I mean, people are asking me– the common question that I’m getting now quite a lot is, while this– you know, they see me as a– as a– as a New Zealand filmmaker that’s always lived in New Zealand–


PETER JACKSON: –and I’ve made, you know, a lot of budget films. And now everybody says, “Well, after– this is going to open all these doors, and you’ve got the key to the kingdom and you’re going to be able to come to Hollywood and rule Hollywood”– and I– I actually just want to stay New Zealand–


PETER JACKSON: –making my stuff now in New Zealand. So in a funny kind of a way, without wanting to sound sort of ungrateful, the– I don’t see this film really as opening up particularly doors that I care to go through. You know, I– sort of I’m an independent filmmaker. I have my own little set-up in New Zealand that I’ve been making films down there for 10 or 12 years, and I’m very, very happy to continue. Probably make it a little bit easier to get financed for films, however.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah. You mentioned New Line for a second there and the bet that they’re making on this.


CHARLIE ROSE: The interesting thing is that I understand– you had always wanted to make the three of them at one time, but you presented the idea to Bob Shay to do two, hoping that he would bite and say, “Why not three”?

PETER JACKSON: Well, there’s a– there’s a long–

CHARLIE ROSE: Is that a legend or–

PETER JACKSON: There’s a long story behind that. I’ll try to give you the short version of the long story, if you like, the history of it, because it is very interesting. I mean, people don’t realize really how close this film came to not happening at all.

It was originally a Miramax production. We started developing it with Miramax in about 1996, you know, inquired about the rights in ’95. Saul Zaentz had the right to become its producer.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah. Made English Patient.

PETER JACKSON: English Patient. And we called Harvey Weinstein and said to Harvey, you know, “We’d love to– love to do this.” We had the first look deal with Miramax, which meant we had to take any project [unintelligible] gone to them.
So we called up Harvey and said, “We’d love to do this.”

He said, “Who’s got the rights?”

And we said, “Saul Zaentz.”

And he said, “Well, that’s great because I’m making The English Patient with Saul right now, and he owes me a big favor because The English Patient was”–

CHARLIE ROSE: About not to be made.

PETER JACKSON: –made– and then Harvey stepped [unintelligible] So that was our first piece of great luck is that Harvey happened to be working with Saul–


PETER JACKSON: –and so had the rights. So that legal stuff happened, and the rights became– you know, became available to Harvey. And so we started to develop it with Harvey. We pitched the idea of three films, and Miramax didn’t really want to take that risk.

But we agreed on two, two Lord of the Rings films, you know, two-and-a-half hours make five hours total, which we thought we could– we could adapt the book, the three books, in that way.

So we did the screenplays. We developed them over the course of about two years. At the same time as writing the scripts, Miramax were also putting a lot of money into, basically, pre-production on the film.

We hired a team of 30 or 40 people. We were designing the movie. We were location scouting. We had visual effects being done. We had monsters being made. Computer work was happening. A lot of money was spent. In fact, it was about $20 million got spent during this time.

And the we ran into a real snag because by the time we’d finished writing the screenplays and doing a lot of the development, we were able to come up with a much more definitive budget of what it was going to spend, and that was going to– at that point, these two movies were going to cost about $130 million, $140 million to make.

And Harvey said, “Well, I have– I only have an ability to go up to $75 million on a film.”

And of course, Disney owns his company. So I understand. I’m not entirely certain, but I do understand that Harvey went to Disney and he asked permission to spend extra money to make these two films and was refused that permission.

So Harvey was in a real jam, and he turned to us and said, “Look,” you know, “I’ve got a problem. I just cannot go ahead with these two films. So why don’t we just make one?”

And we said, “So you want us to make the first one first and release it,” which is sort of the common-sense approach, “and then if it’s successful, we’ll go and make the second.”

And he said, “Well, no, no. I just want to make one Lord of the Rings films, so we’ve got to figure out a way to lose all the story and to compress it all into one movie.”

So we didn’t really feel comfortable with that at all. In fact, we just felt it was a recipe for disaster, that anybody that had read the book that went along to a movie titled The Lord of the Rings was just going to be– was going to be disappointed, was going to be shocked at what this two-hour version–

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah. Right.

PETER JACKSON: –was actually going to be like. And we just said, “Why would you do that when it was guaranteed to disappoint?”

But anyway, Harvey had no real choice, and he said, “This is the only thing I can do.”

So, at that point, we literally walked away from the project, and we said to Harvey, “We can’t be involved in this anymore.” And we’d been on it for two years. So it was a fairly– we were over– we were over here in New York and had this– had this rather gruesome meeting at the Miramax office and just said, “Look,” you know, “we can’t be involved.”

And Harvey said– I mean, he understood. It was like we were both in a jam. And Harvey’s heart was always in the right place, but he couldn’t– he had nowhere to do.

And so we got on the plane back to New Zealand. It’s, like, a 20-hour flight. And we felt now that we’d come to the end of The Lord of the Rings, which was a tragedy. It’s– Because you put so much emotional investment into these things when you work on them for so long.

And our agent, Kim Kemmens [sp], in the meantime, while we were flying that 20 hours back to New Zealand, he’d called Harvey, and he said, “Look,” you know, “Peter and Fran,” who’s my– who’s my partner, “they’ve been working on this for two years, Harvey. You’ve got to give them at least a chance to take this somewhere else. If you can’t do it, there may be someone who can.”

And so Harvey– because Harvey was prepared to hire other filmmakers to make a single-film version because Harvey had spent $20 million, and he wasn’t able just to kill it. He was now going to have to find someone else to do his movie so he could at least get– get his investment back.

And so Harvey said, “OK, there’s– there’s two conditions. One, it’s got to be– it’s got to be the two films. Somebody’s got to agree to do two films because I’m offering to do one, so somebody’s got to agree to the two. The second condition is if somebody wants to do it, they’ve got to write me– they’ve got four weeks from now to write me a $20 million check.”

So we were now faced with the job of having to go to L.A., to Hollywood, and try and convince somebody to write Harvey a $20 million check and finance two Lord of the Rings movies. So we were in– we arrived in New Zealand with this news, and we had four weeks.

And so we had all this visual material, all our designs, our creatures. We had a lot of stuff. And rather than just go into a Hollywood office and just, like, do a verbal pitch, we thought we’ve got to make use of all this wonderful visual material that we have because it was– it was pretty amazing.

And so we decided to make a documentary because– and so for the first week of our– of our four, we got a video team in. We interviewed ourselves, you know, talking about The Lord of the Rings. It was like The Making of The Lord of the Rings–

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah. [unintelligible]

PETER JACKSON: –before it got made, you know?

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah. Right. Right.

PETER JACKSON: But the interesting thing in that tape is that– is that we’re all trying to sit there and be really positive and confident.

And I’m being interviewed, and I’m saying, “You know, the most wonderful thing about Tolkien’s story is that”– but we’re all dying inside because this is, like, the project that’s going to– unless this works, it’s all over. And we’re hoping and we’re– but we’re trying to not show that, and we’re all– you know, and so we did all this lovely photography of these– these monsters, where we turn them [unintelligible] tables and lighting them. And we did [unintelligible] ended up being 36 minutes long. And so then we got– then in week number two, we go to L.A. and we– we now have to hit Hollywood with our– with our videotape and try and get someone to do this.

And by the time we arrive in L.A., our agent has gone through every studio, every producer who could possibly raise money, and he’s virtually been turned down by everybody, even without seeing the tape, without meeting us. People just said, “No, we don’t want to do it.” You know, “The Lord of the Rings, two movies, $20 million check to Harvey– no, no, no, no, no.”

And by the time we arrive in L.A., there were only two meetings. There were only two people who wanted to even meet with us. Everyone else had passed. And the first one was Polygram, who saw our tape and they loved it, and they said, “Look, we– this is fantastic. We really, really want to– want to do it.”

And we thought, “Great. Great.”

And then they said, “But our company”– this was in 1998. And they said, “But our company is being sold.” Polygram was now being– it was up for sale.


PETER JACKSON: And they said, “There’s no way we could do this until the sale process is complete.” And we said, “Well, we’ve got, like, you know, two-and-a-half weeks. How quickly is it going to get sold?”

And they said, “Oh, no. It’s going to be months and months away.”

So we walked out the door. That was a no go.

CHARLIE ROSE: And one last shot.

PETER JACKSON: New Line. New Line Cinema was our last shot, who had agreed to have a meeting. And at this point, we were– we were worried that we were going to be known as this failure. So with New Line, we tried to create the impression that we were really busy taking meetings.

And so you know, we had this one meeting that– like, we’d phone up New Line and say, “Meeting– meeting at New Line 10 o’clock. No, no, no. We can’t do 10. We’ve got a meeting. No, one o’clock? No, we’re busy at one. How about 3:30?” And we tried to create this impression that we were kind of really being sought after and we were going to– we– I mean, it was terrible.

CHARLIE ROSE: And you had nothing.

PETER JACKSON: But we had nothing, no.

So we turn up– we turn up at our New Line meeting, and Mark Ordesky, you know, who’s an executive at New Line, who– who– who was an old friend of mine, in actual fact– and I knew that he was a huge The Lord of the Rings fan. Mark had set it up, and Mark was– Mark was really excited about the idea of doing this.

And I met Bob Shay, who I’d known earlier, and Bob is a really straight guy. So you know, we knew we’d get– you know, we’d get some sense from Bob of what he– he was going to do. So we sat down.

He had a private meeting with me first, and he said, “Look, Peter, I just want to– before I see your tape, I just want you to know that if we don’t do this, I want you to know that you’re always welcome to bring projects to me in the future.”

So I thought, “Oh, well, this is the classic kind of”–

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah, right. He’s setting you up for the fall.

PETER JACKSON: He’s setting me up for the fall.

So we went in and we put the tape in, and we– and he plays– and he just sits there, completely silently, just watches it. And we’re just nervous. We can’t stand it. He’s in the– we’re in the same room as he is, and he’s just watching and watching for 36 minutes.

And as the tape comes to an end, he says, “I don’t get it.”

And I thought, “OK.”

And he turns and he says, “I don’t get it. Why would you be wanting to do two The Lord of the Rings films? It’s three books, isn’t it? Shouldn’t it be three films?”

And I thought, “What’s he– what’s he saying here? What’s he– what’s he saying here?”

And he said– he said, “Look, we’re interested”–


PETER JACKSON: –“but we’re basically interested in three movies.” And it was– [crosstalk]

CHARLIE ROSE: I hope you got up and went over and kissed him.

PETER JACKSON: Well, I felt like hugging him, yeah.

I mean, it was unbelievable. And now, you know, these sorts of stories don’t really happen.


PETER JACKSON: They’re not–

CHARLIE ROSE: So you left there saying, “I’m going to make three movies. We’re going to go back to New Zealand”–

PETER JACKSON: We went back to New Zealand. Miramax and New Line lawyers got hammering it out.


PETER JACKSON: Harvey got his check.


PETER JACKSON: And we were–

CHARLIE ROSE: Plus he got 5 percent, too, didn’t he?

PETER JACKSON: We were on board. Yeah, that– Harvey’s done fine.

CHARLIE ROSE: And the title is executive producer or something like–

PETER JACKSON: Yeah. Well, he deserves it. I mean, Harvey was there at the very beginning and gave us a lot of support when we needed it. So it– you know, it sort of– everybody’s come out OK.

CHARLIE ROSE: OK. So all of a sudden, it’s a go. You’re going to–


CHARLIE ROSE: –spend how much money for three movies?

PETER JACKSON: Well, at that point, you see, we only had budgets for two movies. So then we had to write– rewrite the script.

So we had to throw out our scripts, and we had to rewrite the scripts because the scripts for three films is a very different structure to two. So that was a– it was another 18 months. I mean, this is now getting into 1999. They budget out at– they ended up budgeting out at $270 million because we were able to put a whole lot more stuff back into the movies that we’d cut out.

And then, you know– and we went into– basically, into production in October, 1999, to shoot all three movies, $270 million budget, 274 shooting days. And we got going.

CHARLIE ROSE: Talk about casting.

PETER JACKSON: The casting for The Lord of the Rings was vital.

It was vital on several levels. It was vital, one, because it’s one of the most beloved books of all time. And everybody that reads that book has a mental image of these people in their minds.

And we do, too. I mean, we’re fans of the book. So we were determined to get the casting right, that we had to cast people that felt like they had stepped out of the pages of the book.

We didn’t want to cast big stars because that is distracting. I mean, I think if you’re taking– if you’re taking characters from a famous book and bringing them to life, you don’t want a huge superstar face because the book and the star kind of don’t kind-of gel. And we wanted wonderful actors who are like chameleons, who could just bring the characters from the book to life, first and foremost.

Secondly, it was important because we were asking our cast to come down to New Zealand, where we were shooting, for 15 months– I mean, really, 18 months because they had come down six weeks ahead for rehearsals and–


PETER JACKSON: So we were saying– we were asking all of our actors to leave their homes, their families, or bring their families with them, come down to this strange country they had never been to for 18 months.

So we wanted to make sure that we were casting people that really were prepared to commit to that. And the byproduct of that, which I have come to realize– I didn’t really think about it at the time– is that the spirit of the cast was wonderful because I realized that none of these people were actually making a job decision.

They weren’t– they weren’t making a– “What’s my next film going to be? Oh, I think I might just do this film.”

You know, “I’ve got three or four I can choose of. I’ll do– I’ll do The Lord of the Rings,” I mean, because it wasn’t that– normally, they’d be on a movie for three or four months. I mean, the decision to come to New Zealand for 18 months was like a lifestyle decision, much moreso than just a gig.

And so we ended up with actors down in New Zealand that basically, as a– as a group, felt, “Well, we’re not going to spend this amount of time on a single project without ending up with something we’re really proud of.” You know what I mean? It’s like– and that wouldn’t happen on every movie. It’s like this was not a job.

This was like– “Eighteen months? I want this to be great”–


PETER JACKSON: –“because I’m here for 18 months.” And they just arrived– they just said, “Let’s get going. This is– we want this to be great.”

And that lasted through the entire shoot. And I actually think that spirit is a spirit of– it’s a spirit of putting your heart and soul into something. And I think that shows on the screen.


PETER JACKSON: I think that really comes across on the screen.

CHARLIE ROSE: And New Zealand, as a -place, contributed to that for you, as the movie.

PETER JACKSON: Well, New Zealand, as a location for The Lord of the Rings, is perfect. You know, I mean, I– I mean, I’m a New Zealand filmmaker, and I live and work there. So for me, it was easy. But I think that if any filmmaker anywhere in the world was doing The Lord of the Rings, New Zealand would be, like, right up on the locations.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because it’s an unspoiled Britain, so to speak?

PETER JACKSON: Yeah. Well, you know, Tolkien– I mean, the Middle Earth that Tolkien wrote about was– is not– is not on another planet. It’s– it’s a mythic pre-history of Europe.


PETER JACKSON: And so these sort of– New Zealand has these unspoiled kind of primitive European landscapes, essentially.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah. All right. Talk about the cast, and let’s– first of all, we’ll see in a minute Frodo, but– Elijah Wood.


CHARLIE ROSE: The most important casting?

PETER JACKSON: The most important casting. You know– I mean, you know, the problem with getting the casting wrong– if you cast a Frodo, for instance, that sort of irritated, you know, and you always see movies where somebody annoys you, bugs you.


PETER JACKSON: Then we were– we were not– we were not sort of spoiling one film, we were spoiling three movies. So the cast– you know, there was a lot– a lot riding on it.

And Frodo is a very, very important character in the movies, but he’s also an incredibly difficult character to play and to cast, in actual fact, because– I always regard Frodo as being the Everyman character, that– you know, when you read the book– this is [unintelligible] from the book– when you read it, I think you sort of channel– you channel a lot of your imagination through the character of Frodo in the book because he’s experiencing the journey.

He’s the innocent. He’s like us. I mean, we’re like the Hobbits, really. And he’s going these places. He’s going places that we’d never want to go, and he doesn’t want to go, you know, and yet he’s having to deal with it.

So he’s– so in a way, Frodo is the audience of the film. And those sorts of characters are fiendishly difficult for actors to play because they– they have no gimmicks. You know, they have no quirks–

CHARLIE ROSE: So tell me why Elijah.

PETER JACKSON: Well, I’ll tell you about Elijah. I mean, we were convinced that Frodo was going to be an English actor because we wanted the Hobbits to basically be English, as Tolkien really wrote them.

So we went to London, and we started auditioning. We didn’t– we didn’t– we couldn’t think of any actor to play Frodo. I mean, you know, names like Ian McKellen immediately– [crosstalk] –Ian Holm for–


PETER JACKSON: –Bilbo. But Frodo, we had nobody in mind. So we thought it would be an unknown English actor, young kid. So we went to England. We auditioned– we were in London auditioning for about a month, and we had– we’d probably seen about 300 Frodos, young English actors.

There were two or three that were OK, but nothing– nothing magical, you know, because Frodo had to be magical.




PETER JACKSON: And every time the casting room door opened and some young, nervous– nervous young actor would come in, you– you were saying, “Is this going to be Frodo?”

And you sort of know within 10 seconds that it wasn’t really Frodo. And it was– it was a worry, but we were plugging on. And the casting director, John Hubbard, said to us one day when we arrived to do some more casting, he just said, “Oh, a package has just come in the mail.”

And we said, “Oh, yeah?”

He says, “It’s from Elijah Wood.” And it was a videotape, a VHS tape, just in a package sent to London.

And I had heard Elijah’s name, but I’d never seen a film he’d done. So actually– I actually had no face for Elijah. I didn’t know what Elijah looked like. But Fran Walsh, my partner, had seen The Ice Storm, and she said, “Oh, no, no. This kid’s pretty good. He’s an American, but he’s got this really interesting face.”

And so we put the videotape in, and Elijah had basically– he was in L.A. and heard that we were in London and we weren’t going to come to L.A. And so he’d– he really wanted to get this role, and so he had– he hired a dialect coach to teach him– this is all what he did himself, without us even knowing about it– hired a dialect coach to teach him accent.

He’d gone to the local costume hire. He’d got this sort of cheesy kind of Hobbit costume on. He’d gone up into the trees, somewhere up behind his house with a friend, and he’d just videotaped his own audition, where he was– because he didn’t have our script, so he was reading from the book. And he was, like, doing Frodo parts from the book.

And I just put– I put this videotape in, and literally– I mean, not having known who Elijah Wood was, really, I just thought, “He’s wonderful. He’s absolutely great.”


PETER JACKSON: Bingo. And so Elijah cast himself.

CHARLIE ROSE: Roll tape.

Here’s a scene in which Frodo is being chased by the evil Dark Riders, and he decides to leave the shire.

[excerpt from “The Fellowship of the Ring”]

CHARLIE ROSE: Then there is Ian McKellen.

PETER JACKSON: Yes. Now, Ian was– quite different to Elijah, Ian was a name that we had right from the very beginning, where– where we thought about all the perfect Gandalfs, who would be the perfect Gandalf.

It was fantasy casting. We could— we were the lucky people that could there with The Lord of the Rings and say, “Now, if we were making a movie, who would we cast?” because we were making a movie, and we had to cast somebody. So we– Ian McKellen was it from day one for us. I mean, we– [crosstalk]

CHARLIE ROSE: No other choice?

PETER JACKSON: No. No. We never–

CHARLIE ROSE: No Anthony Hopkins, no–

PETER JACKSON: No. No. Anthony Hopkins we thought would be interesting for Bilbo, but then– but then we–


PETER JACKSON: But we fell in love with Ian Holm, and we loved the idea of Ian Holm.


PETER JACKSON: We wanted, obviously, an English actor. We wanted an English actor of a certain stature.

And we wanted somebody who would bring Gandalf to life in a way that didn’t– he’s a chameleon, Ian. That’s what I love about Ian, is he’s not an actor who–who puts his own stuff right in your face when he’s playing a role. He– he absorbs himself into the character, and he– and out comes– the character emerges. And that’s the sort of actor that we wanted.

And we wanted somebody, obviously, who can– I mean, the Shakespearean quality of Ian, of his experience, is perfect for Tolkien because Tolkien’s language is kind of heightened, and it’s not easy– it’s not easy to say the dialogue that Gandalf has to say in the film without it sounding a bit cheesy. So you know, you need a great actor to make it sound wonderful, to go from the cheesy to the– to the great in one– in one easy step. And so Ian is obviously wonderful at just being able to be wonderfully believable.

[exerpt from “The Fellowship of the Ring”]

PETER JACKSON: And I’ll tell you what. I mean, people should just realize how absolutely difficult this role was to play because I have a huge dislike of wizards in films and books.

I mean, wizards are not great characters. And The Lord of the Rings– obviously, my biggest problem was the fact that you have a wizard, who, in a sense– in one way, they’ve become cliches, but they’ve become cliches since The Lord of the Rings.

I mean, Tolkien created this character, and since then and since the 1950s, everybody has obviously just done versions of Gandalf in all sorts of different things. So this is the prototype. But nonetheless, it’s the long beard. It’s the pointy hat. It’s the star. It’s what you, you know, imagine a cliched wizard to be like.

And so Ian and I worked very, very hard to– to basically play him not as a cliched wizard at all, but to take– to take a lead, obviously, from Tolkien because Tolkien had– Tolkien had designed a character in Gandalf who was an ancient spirit, a very powerful spirit, an immortal who never dies, who’s been sent down to Middle Earth to combat evil, to help fight this evil.

And he is for some reason– I don’t quite know why, but he ends up being put in the body of an old man. So you’ve basically got a mind which is– which is– which is young and vibrant but you’ve got– he’s stuck in this old carcass with creaky bones, and he doesn’t have the energy that he really wants, and it’s frustrating for him being stuck in this body.

And that leads to all sorts of interesting possibilities.

CHARLIE ROSE: You’ve said about this that you wanted the costumes and the actors to give the audience a sense of authenticity.

PETER JACKSON: Right, make it real.

CHARLIE ROSE: Make it real.

PETER JACKSON: That’s– I thought that was important because the fantasy genre, in terms of movies, I don’t think has ever really succeeded wonderfully well.

I mean, there’s been some movies that have been OK, but they– Hollywood seems to lack confidence in this particular genre, for some reason. And you know, you can name– over the last 100 years of cinema, you can name the great Westerns and the great spy movies and the great cowboy films, the great musicals, you know?

But the great fantasy films– I mean, it’s a genre that no one has really kind of come to terms with very well, I believe.

And I wanted– I thought, well, we need to reinvent the genre a little bit. And I just thought, well, you know, why don’t we just take our lead again from Tolkien? I mean, it’s there in the book. He wasn’t writing fantasy. I don’t believe in the 12 years that he was sitting down in his little attic room up in his house, writing this thing in longhand– I don’t believe a minute he thought he was writing a– writing a fantasy story, not one minute.

He was an Oxford professor who was– who dedicated his life to a love of mythology, ancient mythology, which is not fantasy. It’s very different. Mythology’s different than fantasy. And Tolkien always mourned the fact that England’s mythology had been eradicated by the Norman invasion in 1066 [unintelligible] mythology’s based on oral stories that are passed down from generation to generation before the printing presses.

And you know, the Greek mythologies of the Trojan horse and Achilles and things, they survived through the years. The great Norse sagas survived through the years. But England– when the Normans invaded, whatever stories had been nurtured were eradicated by the– and so England’s mythology was, like, medieval stuff like Robin Hood and King Arthur.

I mean, it didn’t go any further back than that.

So Tolkien thought– he wanted to create a mythology for his country, for England, and this is what he did. He spent his lifetime doing the stories of Middle Earth and the saga– you know? And the history– the history of the– the concept– because he always says– he said, “I imagine this took place in England and Europe some 7,000 or 8,000 years ago.”

This is– this– and so we thought, “OK. OK, so what we’ll do with the movie is we will– we will pretend that this is history, just as if we were making an ancient Roman film or making Braveheart, you know, about Sir William Wallace, you know– you know, that we’ll pretend that– that these guys existed. It’s history. It was real, that– let’s make the movie with that weight of authenticity in the designs, the look, the performances, everything.”

So that– that was our mantra.

CHARLIE ROSE: You said that you made the movie– that you didn’t make the movie that Tolkien would have made, but you made the movie he would have enjoyed.

PETER JACKSON: Well, I hope he would have enjoyed it. I’ve got no idea whether he would have enjoyed it. I–

CHARLIE ROSE: But you had some reason to say that.

PETER JACKSON: I made a– we– what we tried to do with the movie– because there’s also a lot of themes in Tolkien, obviously, more than just the plot. There’s–

CHARLIE ROSE: Like what?

PETER JACKSON: –all this– well, there’s– I mean, there’s a lot of things in Tolkien– friendship– I mean, he was–

CHARLIE ROSE: Mentorship, you know.

PETER JACKSON: He was in the First World War. He was– he was in the trenches. He went into World War I with his classmates, you know, his school chums. And by the end of World War I, only two of them were still alive.

He saw– he saw men die. He saw friendship under fire. He understood what– what that was like. And Frodo and Sam’s relationship’s pretty much based on that. He said he was born 100 years too late, that he would have liked to have lived in a pre-industrial age, in the early 1800s, before, in the middle of that century, the chimneys and the factories started sort of spreading across the landscape.

And a lot of The Lord of the Rings is about that, the destruction of forests and the rise of metal and machines.

He hated machines. He said that the most evil creation ever visited on this– on this world was the internal combustion engine. And he hated the idea of people being slaves to the machine, like when we turn on the TV, the TV is controlling us now. We’re slaves to the television. We’re slaves to the motor car.
The ring– in the movie, in the book, the ring is– is– is a symbol for the loss of free will, that the ring takes away your free will.

He also– and obviously, it’s relevant today, but it was written– you know, this book was largely written in the 1940s. One of the strong themes that– you know, everyone talks about the good versus evil, which is kind of true. But in particular, he was– he– a strong theme of The Lord of the Rings is that if you– if you turn your back on the lessons of the past, if you ignore what’s gone before you– and he’s obviously probably talking about post-World-War-I Germany and what happened during the ’30s.

If you turn your back, if you ignore what is happening and you don’t learn from the lessons of the past, you know, you will suffer.

CHARLIE ROSE: Did you have some kind of mechanism in a sense so that you could make sure that you were true to Tolkien?

PETER JACKSON: Well, we didn’t want to put any of our own– certainly in terms of the thematic material, we didn’t want to put any of our own baggage. I mean, we had no interest in putting our messages into this movie. But we thought that we should honor Tolkien by putting his messages into it. And we thought he cared about things, you know, the countryside and the rise of evil. And he cared passionately about certain issues. And we thought what we should do to honor him is to make sure that his– what he cared about ends up in the movie. That’s what we tried to do.

CHARLIE ROSE: Someone– one of your actors said that there was– that the most inspired moments of making this movie came from doubt and panic.

PETER JACKSON: When you’re in any movie you are basically– you never feel– once you start shooting, it’s the shooting of the movie that’s the thing. And obviously that’s where the actors are involved.

You are– you’re on a train you can’t get off because the machine starts rolling, you know. Upwards of a million dollars a day is being spent by this huge organization. And it often feels– it doesn’t– it’s not only just like you’re on a train and you can’t get off it, it feels like you’re running in front of the train, laying the rails down because the thing’s coming up behind you.

And you– it creates a very exciting adrenaline-pumping kind of creative time when, you know, you wake up in the morning and feel that this day you’ve got to shoot his part of the movie. You’re not going to get any other time to do it because it’s got to be done today.

And often in our case, you know, the end of the day we were all getting in buses and driving to completely different locations. So we didn’t even have a possibility of coming back tomorrow to finish it. So you just go there and you want to make the best film you can. And you just– there’s this creative energy that happens.

CHARLIE ROSE: One thing you added to this is female characters.

PETER JACKSON: We didn’t add female characters, we expanded a little bit. Liv Tyler’s character was really the one that we expanded slightly, not a huge amount.

CHARLIE ROSE: In order to do? To serve an audience?

PETER JACKSON: Well, it wasn’t for commercial reasons. I mean, if we were strictly commercial, you know, Liv would have been in the film from the beginning to the end. I mean, if we were– because he’s obviously wonderful and the more that Liv was in it, the better, really, to some degree from a commercial point of view.

But that obviously would not have been Tolkien. No, the character of Arwen, who Liv plays very, very wonderfully, she is barely in the book. I mean, she’s just such a tiny character in terms of what Tolkien wrote. And yet, she does play an important part because she is the elf.

She’s an elf. She’s an immortal. She never dies; she lives forever. And she is in love with Aragorn. And Aragorn is a mortal man just like we are. He has a lifespan, a natural lifespan. And the only way that the two of them can be together is if she gives up her immortal life and becomes a– and stays with him and dies with him.

And so it’s a wonderful bittersweet love story that’s there in the book. And we just simply wanted to have a little bit more screen time to sort of– to make that work for the movie. So we did.

CHARLIE ROSE: To enhance it a little bit or extend it.

Speaking of Aragorn, here’s where Frodo meets Aragorn, played by Viggo Morgensen.

[excerpt from “The Fellowship of the Ring”]

CHARLIE ROSE: Who’s the audience for this movie? Is it adults and kids?

PETER JACKSON: Yeah, it’s a whole age — eight to 80.


PETER JACKSON: And beyond.

CHARLIE ROSE: You had final cut?

PETER JACKSON: Well, I can’t remember now, can I? I think I shared final cut with Bob Shea. But, you know, it was a very collaborative process. And, I mean, I just had the most wonderful experience as a filmmaker because there was never any real argument or conflict that any time we had disagreements we’d sit down and we’d listen to each other’s points of view. Newline was very collaborative.

And, you know, as a filmmaker and as an independent filmmaker, as somebody who does pride their independence and doesn’t consider themselves a studio guy, I have no complaints. I mean, it was a wonderful filmmaking experience for me.

CHARLIE ROSE: Nothing– now that you look at it, that you would have– I mean, do differently?

PETER JACKSON: Well, it’s probably a better question to ask me in 10 year’s time because that’s when you get a little bit more perspective on the film.

I– you know, I’ve just finished cutting an alternative version of The Fellowship of the Ring, which was interesting because–

CHARLIE ROSE: Why would you do that?

PETER JACKSON: For the DVD. Because we– obviously theatrically– you see, we had a lot riding on this, this movie, as we discussed. I mean, you know, a huge amount at stake. The first film had to work at the box office or it would have been something you don’t even want to think about. It would have been terrible.

So we– you know, we had a lot of– there’s was a lot of discussion, obviously, about how long the film has to be. And I obviously believe ultimately that films should be as long as they need to be because a film is something that you just have to feel your way through as your cutting it.

And we ultimately, you know, obviously had a movie that was nearly three hours long, which commercially is a little bit risky. But nonetheless, everybody felt strongly that the film worked at that length.

But in doing so, we certainly– we cut it at a pretty quick pace, you know, which is one of the reasons why I think at three hours people enjoy it. Because most people come out of it saying it didn’t feel like three hours. And I think that’s because the pace is long.

But what we had to lose in our cutting process is a lot of little character moments, where most of the characters, in fact, have wonderful little scenes where they get developed, were we learn more about, you know, Aragorn and Arwen and the guys and so we just– I just recently, just before I’ve come over here, actually last week, I finished cutting a DVD version of the film which is 30 minutes longer.

So there’s now a three and a half hour version of this movie, which I love. I love the fact that DVD–it’s not really a director’s cut because I consider the director’s cut the one that went out in the movies. But this is like an alternative extended version for people who would like to see it.

CHARLIE ROSE: So what would I see in that version I don’t see in the original version?

PETER JACKSON: You’ll see a lot of scenes, a lot of scenes. You know, that 30 minutes of extra footage is like sprinkled all the way throughout from the beginning to the end.

CHARLIE ROSE: I see, so it’s not one whole– not one sequence.

PETER JACKSON: It’s little character moments. There’s little character developments where they pause. A couple of guys have a little scene together and then they move on. I mean, it’s good– it’s pretty good stuff, actually. And I looked at it and I thought, well, this is actually– this is good. I don’t think it would have been a good idea to release that version in the cinemas, but it’s good that people will be able to see it on DVD.

CHARLIE ROSE: Your fascination with the notion escapism is what?

PETER JACKSON: Well, I believe strongly in breaking the barrier when you go see movies. And what I mean by that is that obviously the moviegoing process is one in which you walk into a darkened theater, you sit in a chair and 20 feet away there’s a screen. And you watch the screen.

And when I was a kid, as we all were — I’m sure the same for you — every time I used to go to the movies when I was 12, I’d leave my chair. I wouldn’t be in my chair anymore. I’d just go into the screen and I’d be there. I would just be lost in the film.

And as an adult, that doesn’t happen very often to me anymore now. And I don’t know whether it’s because I’m getting older or, you know, the films are doing that anymore. But I was– I tried as much as I possibly could with The Lord of the Rings to recreate that type of movie where the audience can just get lost and just go into the movie and just become part of the film.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because that is your passion, whether it’s this kind of genre or not, is that what you think distinguishes you as a filmmaker?

PETER JACKSON: I don’t know.

CHARLIE ROSE: Some sense of being urgent about that idea?

PETER JACKSON: I mean, Hitchcock– Hitchcock came out with my favorite quote as a film quote. He once said, “Some people’s films are slices of life; mine are slices of cake.”

And that does– that’s where my heart is.

CHARLIE ROSE: Slices of cake.


CHARLIE ROSE: Any– what was the most difficult hurdle to overcome? For example, you’ve got characters of different size so you’ve got to figure the relationship.

PETER JACKSON: Yeah, and we’ve got them all through the movie. I mean–

CHARLIE ROSE: And they react with each other and so everything has to be different. The size of a glass in your hands can’t be the size of a glass if I’m a little person.

PETER JACKSON: No, no, no. We had to build little things twice. You know, a lot of sets had to be built twice. Bag End, which is a set that we’ve seen in some of the clips here where, you know, Gandalf and Frodo are talking when the ring goes in the fire, for instance, that was quite a large set, a whole little building, a little hobbit house. And we had to build that twice so that when Elijah was shooting his scenes he was in a Baggin that was the appropriate size for Elijah as a hobbit. So the ceilings were quite high and there were books on the shelves and chairs that he could sit in.

And then for all of the shots of Ian McKellan, he wasn’t in the same set. He was next door in an exactly identical set but about two-thirds of the size, so that Ian’s one he had to stoop under to get under the doorways. And if he stood up, he banged his head on the roof. And it was too– because he’s a big guy. He’s much taller than the hobbits. So he didn’t fit in the Baggin very well, but that meant that even the chairs, which were all hand-carved, they had to be replicated smaller, the tables, the books, the stuff on the floor, the rubbish. Everything had to be made smaller for his version.

So a lot of things had to be built two different sizes. And, I mean, this was one of those movies where every single thing in the film had to be built. There was not one item we could go to a props warehouse and rent. And we had to also fit the cultures because The Lord of the Rings tells a multi-cultural kind of story. So in The Hobbit, the hobbits are eating with knives and forks. Now when you go to where the elves live, they’ve got knives and forks but they have to be completely different because those knives and forks– I mean, you know, we studied.

We thought now if you’re an elf and you’re immortal and you live for 3,000 years, what would your knife and fork be like? I mean, what design influences would have steered you towards coming up with something that you use to cut your brussel sprouts with?

So we had to put a huge amount of thought into the cultural design. I mean, Richard Tayler, Grant Major, Alan Lee. I mean, a lot of wonderful designers, who fortunately are all people that are up for these Oscars now so I’m so pleased that their work has been celebrated in that way because I’ll tell you everything, thousands and thousands of things had to be made and all with a view to creating a fictitious cultural background to influence the design of these different places that we go to.

CHARLIE ROSE: Answering Tolkien’s question about himself, what period of history would you prefer to have lived in?

PETER JACKSON: I’m reasonably comfortable with today, actually.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because you live in New Zealand?

PETER JACKSON: Well, and I like TV’s and things. I don’t really– I mean and internal combustion engines are OK.

CHARLIE ROSE: And cellphones.

PETER JACKSON: And cellphones are OK. And movie cameras. Movie cameras. I mean, I love the movies so I guess actually I would find it hard to imagine a world without movies to be completely honest.

CHARLIE ROSE: What is that about?

PETER JACKSON: Oh, it’s just– I mean, it’s escapism, as I say. It’s just a–

CHARLIE ROSE: It’s storytelling, too.

PETER JACKSON: Yeah. I mean, I guess if you were living 2- or 300 years ago, it would be whole stories that we’d be sitting around telling tales around the fire.

CHARLIE ROSE: No, but the attraction of you and movies is it gives you the tools to tell stories.

PETER JACKSON: Well, I love telling stories because I love having stories told to me. I mean, I love movies. I’m a movie fan. I’ve loved going to see movies as long as I can remember. And through loving movies as an audience, I’ve come to love the ability to make them.

CHARLIE ROSE: Could you have made A Beautiful Mind?

PETER JACKSON: Probably. I mean, you know, in some respects Heavenly Creatures is not the same subject matter as A Beautiful Mind, but it’s certainly that type of movie. It’s a psychological drama. So I’ve done that, yeah.

CHARLIE ROSE: In the Bedroom, you could have made?

PETER JACKSON: Um, don’t know. I mean, In the Bedroom is not quite the slice of cake that I’d be going after.

CHARLIE ROSE: Could you make King Kong?

PETER JACKSON: I’d love to make King Kong.


PETER JACKSON: Well, the original King Kong is my– is my all-time favorite film, the 1933 version. I saw that when I was 10, which was the reason why I wanted to become a filmmaker actually is seeing King Kong. That’s the ultimate escapist film. And I was working on a remake of King Kong for a while and then Universal, the studio who was doing it, decided not to go ahead with it.

And we had Lord of the Rings kind of in the wings at that point, so we were able to jump straight onto that project. But King Kong’s great.

CHARLIE ROSE: Will you ever get the chance to make it?

PETER JACKSON: I hope so. It’s a Universal question really. They’ll have to come and decide. They have to come and decide to do it.

CHARLIE ROSE: I assume the chances they’ll do that is accelerated because of Lord of the Rings.

PETER JACKSON: Yeah. I mean, we’ve got a couple of smaller films we want to make. I mean, Fran and I are–with Heavenly Creatures, which is a New Zealand-based drama film set in the ’50s, a true love story, that was a wonderful experience for us. We loved making that film. And so we’re probably going to follow up The Lord of the Rings with a couple of, you know, smaller, more drama-based films of that sort.

CHARLIE ROSE: She’s been our partner for– in the filmmaking business for a while.

PETER JACKSON: Yeah. Well, Fran and I have got two kids, so we’re partners in life, as well. And she’s– she and I have worked together on films for, you know, the last 12 or 13 years.

CHARLIE ROSE: When you look at movies today, you know, what do you like about the way they’re going or what don’t you like?

PETER JACKSON: I think Hollywood– Hollywood has stopped taking risks. Hollywood has become a little bit safe and a little bit recycling the stuff we liked.

And in a sense, what I feel really proud about this particular year and I really hope it helps influence films that are made all around the world, not just Hollywood, but it’s seems to be interesting that Down Under — New Zealand and Australia — with Lord of the Rings from New Zealand and Moulin Rouge! from Australia — that two films from that part of the world have in a sense– you know, they’ve reinvigorated their particular genres, that we did fantasy and Baz did the musical.

And, you know, both films are being sort of celebrated in a way for breathing new life into these genres. And, you know, I really would love to see more of that risk taking and imaginative kind of– just go for it happening with some of the big budget Hollywood films that are being made because they seem to have forgotten how to do that a little bit.

CHARLIE ROSE: Much success at the Oscars.


CHARLIE ROSE: It’s good to have you here.


CHARLIE ROSE: Peter Jackson, director, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the most Academy Award nominations, currently seen in theaters around the country. Thank you for joining us. See you next time.

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