Ralph Bakshi’s animated Lord of the Rings film hit theaters 40 years ago this month in 1978, and now the director has shared some secrets about its production. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Bakshi talked about how The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger personally called Bakshi to ask if he could voice Frodo.
Jagger came to the studio to catch up with Bakshi about The Lord of the Rings, and people working on the project apparently completely lost it when Jagger walked by.
“[My studio on Hollywood and Vine] is full of college kids all graduated from art school, a very young group. So I’m walking through the studio with Mick Jagger and the girls start to scream and faint,” Bakshi recalls. “I had 2,200-3,000 people working on four floors, and the word spread to each floor that Jagger is walking around, and people got from one floor to the other through the staircase, and there was thunder like horsemen coming down, shaking the staircase. My son was there for the summer and he was terrified–he hid in the bathroom.”
Bakshi said he thought Jagger would be a “pretty good Frodo, I guess,” but had to tell the rockstar that the part was already filled, voiced, and completed. Actor Christopher Guard ended up voicing the Ring-bearer in the movie.
Also in the story, Bakshi talks about how the world-famous English rock band Led Zeppelin wanted to be involved in his Lord of the Rings film. Presumably having heard Zeppelin songs like “Ramble On” and “The Battle of Evermore” which reference J.R.R. Tolkien and Lord of the Rings in general, Bakshi approached the band to see if they’d lend their music to the movie’s soundtrack.
Unfortunately, the band’s contract apparently prohibited the group from lending its music to a project in this capacity. Instead, Bakshi went with composer Leonard Rosenman. “I didn’t mind him. He had a good reputation. But Led Zeppelin would have blown off the roof of the picture. So I lost that one,” Bakshi said.
The entire THR piece is an in-depth and fascinating read for any Lord of the Rings fan, or anyone who likes to get a peek behind the scenes about how movies are made. Bakshi speaks frankly about the challenges of getting the movie made, remarking that he “nearly died” due to the intense production. You may recall that the film ends with the Battle of Helm’s Deep, and that’s because Bakshi had planned to make a trilogy but it never worked out.
Peter Jackson went on to make his own Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, and they were critical and commercial successes. Jackson followed them up with another trilogy of Hobbit films. One year ago this week, Amazon announced it had started making a new Lord of the Rings TV show, while a new film starring Nicholas Hoult as J.R.R. Tolkien and Lilly Collins as his wife Edith Bratt has reportedly finished filming.
As for video games, a new Lord of the Rings title is in the works at Athlon Games, and it might have an online focus. Athon’s parent company, Leyou, owns Digital Extremes (Warframe) and Splash Damage (Gears of War 4 multiplayer), while it previously invested millions of dollars into Halo and Call of Duty co-developer Certain Affinity. Video games are just one part of Leyou’s business. The company also operates a slaughtering and processing facility in China that is capable of processing 18 million chickens every year.