Peter Jackson‘s “Lord of The Rings” trilogy is easily one of the better studio franchises, mainly because it was one of the riskier moves at the time. While J.R.R. Tolkien‘s fantasy adventure books were indeed popular, they hadn’t been proven to be box office gold. So, when New Line Cinema gave Jackson a heap of money and time to make a full trilogy of films, it was pretty shocking to many of us in the 1990s.
One of the key reasons for “Lord of The Rings” success was that Peter Jackson seemed to have a lot of creative control over the films and wasn’t exactly taking all his cues from the studio. This is highlighted in a recent IGN interview with cast members Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan while promoting their podcast The Friendship Onion, where they revealed that New Line Cinema pressured Jackson to kill one of the hobbits (they all survive in the books).
Monaghan did some deductive work to conclude it would have been his character, Merry.
“It’s a good job that didn’t happen because it would have been me. 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,” Dominic Monaghan said of Peter Jackson saving Merry from an on-screen death.
Ridiculous in hindsight, as the hobbits are essentially supposed to be stand-ins for the audiences/readers. Being sort of oblivious to this fantastical and dangerous world outside of the Shire, only really going by tales and myths passed down by the more adventurous members of their small community. However, there are a handful of moments in “The Fellowship of The Ring” where they might have been able to bump off Merry.
A darker tone isn’t that shocking, as “Excalibur” director John Boorman once attempted an R-rated feature film adaptation before the Ralph Bashki animated adaption that would have featured extreme violence alongside a sexual liaison between Frodo and Galadriel.