New Zealand actor Russell Crowe turned down a role in Lord of the Rings.
New Zealand actor Russell Crowe turned down a role in Lord of the Rings. Daily Telegraph

Russell Crowe turned down $100 million role

Russell Crowe has revealed why he turned down an extremely lucrative offer to appear in the first Lord of the Rings film.

Crowe was offered 10 per cent of the film's profits instead of an upfront fee to play Aragorn in the 2001 movie The Fellowship of the Ring.

But in a new interview with Howard Stern, Crowe explained why he passed on the role.

"I didn't think (director) Peter Jackson actually wanted me on the film," he said. "'I think he was forced into talking to me (by the studio) because there was a moment in time where everybody wanted me in every (movie)."



Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn.
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn.


Crowe said he spoke to Jackson on the phone about the role and could "hear in his voice" Jackson wasn't keen on him.

"My instinct was that he had somebody else in mind, which turned out to be Viggo (Mortensen)," Crowe said. "He should be allowed to hire the actor that he wants."

The movie went on to rake in more than $US860 million worldwide, and Crowe would likely have received at least $100 million if he'd starred in the film.

"Do you think about that every day?" Stern asked Crowe. "Do you ever say, 'I could have had $100 million?'"

"Never thought about it. Only in situations like interviews where people are polite and kind to add sh*t up for you," Crowe joked.

In the interview with Stern, Crowe was also asked about his decision to pass on playing Wolverine in the 2000 X-Men movie.

"Even if I'd done the film, I wouldn't have carried it through with the grace and the direction that Hugh (Jackman) gave it," Crowe said.


Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.


The actor previously opened up to Nova's Fitzy and Wippa about why he passed on playing the mutant superhero, explaining it had something to do with his role in Gladiator.

"If you remember, Maximus has a wolf at the centre of his cuirass, and he has a wolf as his companion … which I thought was going to be a bigger deal (at the time)," he told the radio hosts in 2017. "So I said no because I didn't want to be 'wolfy', like 'Mr Wolf'."

But it turned out the whole drama was over nothing - most of Crowe's symbolic "wolf moments" in Gladiator were left on the cutting room floor.

"When Ridley (Scott, director) was cutting the movie, it was inconvenient to keep the dog alive - so the whole wolf thing, no one ever mentions it!" Crowe said.


Russell Crowe facing off in Gladiator.
Russell Crowe facing off in Gladiator.


Crowe was the one who encouraged X-Men director Bryan Singer to hire Jackman to play Wolverine, and Jackman has been incredibly grateful ever since.

"I owe (Crowe) him because two of the biggest roles I've ever had in my life he turned down - and suggested me for them," Jackman told EW.

"On X-Men, he was Bryan Singer's first choice for Wolverine, and he mentioned me also for (Baz Luhrmann's) Australia. He really is incredibly smart, and generous."