Russell Crowe Explains Why He Turned Down ‘Lord Of The Rings’ (And A $100 Million Payday)

Universal Pictures

Russell Crowe is currently chewing scenery as Roger Ailes in Showtime’s The Loudest Voice, but if things had played out differently, he could have been chewing po-tay-toes on the set of The Lord of the Rings. The tempestuous Gladiator star was a recent guest on The Howard Stern Show, where he revealed that he came close to playing Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning, Middle-earth-set trilogy… until he spoke to the director on the phone.

“I didn’t think Peter Jackson wanted me on that film,” Crowe said, referring to The Fellowship of the Ring. “Because he was forced into talking to me, because there was a moment in time when everyone wanted me in everything.” He continued, “I am talking to him on the phone, it is like, I don’t think he even knows what I have done. I just knew that my instinct was that he had somebody else in mind… and he should be allowed to hire the actor who he wants.”

That “somebody else” was Viggo Mortensen. As for Crowe, he has no regrets about his decision, or the massive payday he turned down. He would have earned ten percent of the trilogy’s earnings, or roughly $100 million, as part of a backend deal, but Crowe doesn’t think about the paycheck, “only in situations like interviews where people are polite and kind enough to add sh*t up for me.”

The joke’s on Viggo, though: he’s not a member of the Dark Universe.

(Via Hollywood Reporter)