Q and A session with 'Marlow' writer of the ill fated '93 script for Lord of the
Rings!! : ROUND 2!!!!
1. Marlow mentioned an interesting story regarding the potential casting of Daniel Day Lewis.
I'm sure we'd all like to hear about it.
When I was first hired, Sam Neill was the person who seemed to be the execs' favourite for Aragorn.
(Although other names were being bandied about.) At some point one of the execs saw a preview of
"Last of the Mohicans" and his wife was captivated by DDL. Her hubby was impressed by this and thought DDL would be a great Aragorn, as he would bring class and
sex appeal to the
role. It was hard to disagree with him. (NB: Sam would have offered
similar traits, I'm sure.)
A good friend of mine happens to be one of DDL's best friends and I
asked him if he thought
Daniel would be interested. He reckoned he wouldn't, unless we got
Isabelle Adjani into the film.
Call me a dimwit, but I had no idea DDL and La Adjani were an item at the
I had been droning on about how she was the perfect Arwen. Suddenly, it
looked like our LOTR was
falling into place with incredible ease. It was. What my mutual friend
neglected to tell me was
that the two lovers had the most tempestuous of relationships. And, boy,
did that cause us the
On an intriguing note, there was the suggestion that DDL must have
known JRRT. After all, his
father, Cecil, was also a professor of English at Oxford at the same time
as Tolkien. I must verify
whether that was true.
2. How were they going to handle the Eagles in your movie?
They did appear in two versions of the treatment, but not in at least
one of the others.
Elements like this are really determined more by the director and his
technical people than by
the writers. I do recall that we would probably not have given them
dialogue in any case.
3. I heard Peter Jackson has said that he thinks of LOTR as Sam's story. In your version who was the central character that
the story revolved around? Who's point of view is the story primarily seen through or was it intended to be more
of an ensemble cast?
Hmm...I saw it as Frodo's and Sam's and Gandalf's and Aragorn's stories
all flowing in unison.
Neverthelss, the hobbits would have had particular import in our work as
we wanted them to possess
the viewpoints closest to those of the audience memebers - the viewpoints
of the "common people".
4. In LOTR, some of the most critical action occurs while one party or another is invisible (e.g., Weathertop,
escape from Boromir, Samwise in Shelob's lair, Cracks of Doom). Logically, this would seem to be
difficult to express in a visually-dependent medium like film. In writing a screenplay for LOTR, how does one
deal with the issue of invisibility?
As I do not come from a fantasy/sf background, I must make clear that
I do not like films using
invisibility. In saying that, we went back to JRRT's actual words to
resolve this one. When Frodo wears the ring, what
is more important than his becoming invisible, you will recall, is the
revelation to him of an invisible world.
Our treatments (and putative screenplay) adopted this idea and, hence,
made the appearnce of the Nazgul, for example,
5. What was the attitude of the writers in bringing this epic literary work to film?
The other writer was a Tolkien fanatic. I was brought in as a neutral
with a reputation for historical dramas. I became
an admirer of Tolkien during my work on the project, but am still far from
being a fan.
6. Would you consider posting your version of the treatment on the net?
No, I am a professional and I was paid for my work. If the people who
paid me wish to post it, that would be another matter.
This is unlikely to happen given some of the legal doubts surrounding a
project initaited without first having the legal rights.
7. What do you think of the recent casting so far? How do you compare them to the actors that you had
listed on your "casting tape."
The "casting tape" was a stimulus for discussion and a bit of fun. I
do not know all of the people cast so far. Holm is perfect and the other
right. McKellen is a wonderful actor, though I imagined Gandalf a
physically more commanding. Lee is a superb, underrated actor, but we were
"genre" names. Sean Bean will not let anyone down, however, the dynamic of
his character's relationship with Aragorn will be crucial now that the
playing the latter seems so young. Liv Tyler strikes me as being out of
place, but I hope she proves me wrong. (I?m probably a bad person to
discuss actors, really.)
8. How would the battle scenes turn out had it been made?
There was talk of filming them in Eastern European countries/Turkey
using state forces. I wasn't heavily involved with such discussions, so
it's possible other
ideas were mentioned, too.
9. In terms of special fx, make ups, prosthetics, and puppets, how would the quality of the movie look?
That is, if you had hire a company to do some preproduction test shots.
Again, this was nothing to do with me. The size of the budget would
have been the critical factor here. There were no tests shots done : no-one
does such things until the rights are settled.
10. In your mind when you guys were writing the treatment, did the Balrog have wings? Was Legolas
blonde? Did Eomer make it into the script? Did you show Sauron? Thought about making additions
like an orc hatchery?
I don't think the Balrog had wings (I'llk check when I'm back in
London). It certainly couldn't fly, as we wanted Gandalf's
destruction of the bridge under it to seem , temporarily, like the end of
friend Balrog. Legolas' hair was not something we were bothered about.
Eomer was in, but his role
was of less dramatic interest (and had less lines and scenes) than
Eowyn's. We did not show Sauron: we envisioned him as a presence perceived
through the nightmarish effect he had on other characters
- fragnents of images, sounds, alteration of the environment, musical
motifs, etc. The director would have had more to say on sauron, I'm sure.
The idea of employing Storm Thorgerson, of all people, was mooted
specifiaclly with reference to Sauron's sequences, the "invisible" world,
the story's other dreams and visions, etc.
11. If you hadn't already give it to him yet, what advice would you want to pass to Peter Jackson?
I haven't given him any. I'm sure he wouldn't want my advice , either.
12. Are you for or against this recent attempt at adapting J. R. R. Tolkien? Do you see doom over the horizon (no pun intended) or have faith that Peter Jackson could pull it off?
I'm for it. I hope it's a gigantic success, although I think there
are reasons to believe such success will be hard to achieve.
I hope PJ pulls it off (!). He is a talented man (based on the two films
by him I've seen).
13. You mentioned a "linguistic basis" for the casting. Does this have anything to do with the fact
that all the elf characters seem to be represented by French actors and two of the three Rohirrim are
represented by Teutonics?
All of the actors used in the video as elves were not French. Vincent
Perez is Swiss (of Spanish parents), Franco nero and Terence Hill are
and Greta Scacchi is English (of Italian stock).
Nevertheless, we did suggest that the elves be played by cators who
came from Romance language backgrounds.
We felt this would help the audience accept them as different, exotic,
sophisticated and ancient.
Similarly, we felt that actors with "Nordic"/"Teutonic" accents would
convey, at least to English-speaking
audiences, the vitality and, yes, the less sophisticated nature of the
We had to accept that the production would have been a European
co-production, so would
have had lots of different accents among the cast. Grouping them like this
would have made things more coherent for audiences
and avoided the classic "Euro pudding" trap of a plethora of clashing accents.
The plan didn't stop with the above groups. Our Istari would have had
Scottish accents; the dwarves north of England voices;
the people of Gondolin and Aragorn's followers would have spoken a
variation of RP, etc.
14. What elements did your version of the treatment add or elaborate on? (ex. Seems like PJ is elaborating on
Saruman and his "home-grown" orc troops...)
Wormtongue would have had a more prominent role (and would not have
appeared obviouldy loathsome). Other than that, I don't recall us "adding"
much. I'll check this when I return to the UK for you, though.
15. Could you explain how your script treated Aragorn's journey from "Strider" to "Return of the King"?
Hmm... we tried to maintain the doubts about his intentions, from the
hobbits' POV for as long as possible (at least for
viewers who would not have known the book). He was to appear as a man who
had to grow to deserve to claim his throne. He was haunted by doubts and
his yearning for Arwen for much of our writing.
Gandalf's death would have been the cue for this somewhat Hamlet-like
character to assume responsibility and prove his greatness.
16. I love the Orthanc scenes in the book. How'd that work in the treatment? Did you retain the "seeing stones" ?
We were as faithful as we could be re Orthanc. Yes, we did retain the
seeing stones (a particularly useful device for moving from one scene to a
next, distant location in the treatments they were, too.)
17. In your version how would the book have been divided into movies?
They were talking of two or three films, or an epic televison series.
18. What parts of the book would have been cut? (Your previous interview mentioned the Grey Havens;
what else would have gone?)
I did not mention the Grey Havens; I said the "Scouring of the Shire
" was cut.
The first few chapters were greatly condensed (e.g. no party, no nonsense
about mushrooms, etc, etc). Bombadil was in, but only briefly
(the sequence with the cave ghosts). Many other passages were streamlined
rather than cut, which we felt best balanced film needs
with faithfulness to the book. Frodo and Sam's journey, I seem to
remember, had a lot of less vital momenst "rationalised".
19. How many changes did your treatment go through?
There were three main variations: the first writer's treatment (most
faithful to JRRT), mine (least faithful) and our joint treatment (reworked
many times), which attempted to meet fil-makers and audiences' needs,
while being loyal to the sprit of JRRT's work.
20. Would you have beefed up the female roles?
Yes, I was largely employed to do just that.
21. Did anyone think that Sam & Frodo had a homosexual relationship? If so, how did you handle their criticism?
No, there were no homosexual relationships in our treatments. One
director, though, would have made
Boromir have repressed homosexual motivations in his relationship with
Aragorn ( a story never to be told?)
22. What was your favorite scene to write?
We didn't write many scenes as we were only at the treatment stage. I
did a couple of
sample scenes I loved: gandalf-Saruman confrontations, Gandalf's
reappearance after his death.
23. There are many situations in LotR where the characters pick up artifacts that become very important later in the
story, like the daggers from the Barrow Downs (which aid in the destuction of the Lord
of the Nazgul), the gifts of Galadriel in Lothlorien(really too many to name here), and the Palantir of Orthanc(Pippins
plight and Sauron's sudden attack on Gondor) to name only a few. Did these survive the translation into the treatment?
Most did, but not all fo Galadriel's gifts.
24. Because "The Hobbit" is not being created before LotR how is the importance of Bilbo's finding of
the Ring handled in the treatment?
We suggested a brief, stylised prologue (possibly in the form of
images accompanied by voiceover and music to bring audiences up to speed
on this before the opening titles.
Obviously, it was mentioned in the treatment proper as well.