Russell Crowe lost out on £80m payday for 'Lord of the Rings'

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Russell Crowe (Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Russell Crowe missed out on a possible payday of $100 million (around £80 million) when he decided not to pursue a role in the Lord of the Rings movies.

Speaking to Howard Stern, the Gladiator star said that producers paired him up with director Peter Jackson with a view to Crowe playing Aragorn, the part eventually immortalised by Viggo Mortensen.

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Crowe confirmed that a deal on the table involved 10 percent of the 'backend gross' of the movies, which would have translated to somewhere in the region of $100 million.

But Crowe says he could tell by Jackson's voice during a phone call the pair had that he didn't want him for the job.

“I didn't think Peter Jackson wanted me on that film,” he told Stern.

“Because he was forced into talking to me, because there was a moment in time when everyone wanted me in everything.

Mortensen as Aragorn (Credit: New Line)

“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, which turned out to be Viggo, and he should be allowed to hire the actor who he wants.”

Asked by Stern whether he regretted walking away from such a huge fortune, Crowe replied: “Never thought about it - only in situations like interviews where people are polite and kind enough to add s**t up for me.”

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Crowe wasn't the only actor considered for the role of Aragorn, of course.

Daniel Day-Lewis was offered the part – twice – but turned it down on both occasions.

Nicolas Cage also turned it down, citing family obligations, before producer Mark Ordesky saw Mortensen appearing in a play and invited him to audition.