Before Peter Jackson, there was Ralph Bakshi, who put together a wild, rotoscoped take on Lord of the Rings that became a cult classic and helped propel the series into the unending imagination of fans.
Now, in a wide-ranging, highly detailed interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Bakshi recounts a number of fascinating details about the production of the film, from its inception as an unlikely passion project to its thrilling and challenging development and the circumstances that led to the film never receiving a proper follow-up.
The whole thing is worth a read, but there a few fun things here I want to point out. Like, for instance, that both Mick Jagger and Led Zeppelin were, at times, interested in contributing to the project.
“So I get a call from Mick Jagger — he wanted to come up and see what we were doing on Rings,” Bakshi told THR. “[Jagger] wanted to do the voice of Frodo. I told him I would have used him easily but I was already recorded and everything. He’d be a pretty good Frodo, I guess. I don’t know.”
Likewise, Led Zeppelin wanted to do the soundtrack, but the studio couldn’t get the rights to the music due to the band’s label contract, which led to composer Leonard Rosenman taking over instead. “He was good. 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.
All in all, it’s a really stunning story of complex production, creative animation, and studio meddling. It would have been incredible to see Bakshi’s take on the second half of the trilogy—the first film only covered up until the battle of Helm’s Deep, and he departed before a sequel could be made. But after reading this, I understand why it didn’t happen.