Iconic Addams Family Star Auditioned for Gandalf in Lord of the Rings

One of the more fascinating things about Hollywood are the stories of roles that weren't, when actors open up about major roles that they auditioned for but for one reason or another didn't end up getting. Those "might have been" moments often open up a whole world of what if for fans and among those tales is an interesting intersection between the iconic The Addams Family television series and Lord of the Rings. John Astin, who brought Gomez Addams to life in the iconic 1960s sitcom, recently opened up to AV Club about his audition for another iconic character, Gandalf in Lord of the Rings.

Astin explained in that he had tested for Gandalf a few times, but his interpretation wasn't quite what Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh were looking for and while he could have given it another go, he realized he "didn't want to spend about a year and a half on a horse". The role went to Ian McKellen.

"I tested a few times for Gandalf [in Lord of the Rings]," Astin said. "The last test I did, they gave me something out of the second book, and I studied it and came up with what I thought was a good interpretation of it, but it wasn't at all what Peter and Fran wanted. I knew them well enough to say, "Hey, let me try to work on it and come back again," They would've been receptive to that. But I thought about it, and Sean [Astin, John's son] was trying to get into the film, too, and I … well, to tell you the truth, I didn't want to spend about a year and a half on a horse!"

Interestingly, Astin auditioning for Gandalf isn't the only "what if" tale from Lord of the Rings. Late last year, Jackson, whose docuseries The Beatles: Get Back debuted on Disney+, revealed that the Fab Four had wanted to make their own adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy long before Jackson, but they were denied rights by author J.R.R Tolkien.

"I expect because there are three, he sent one book to each of the Beatles," Jackson said. "I don't think Ringo got one, but John, Paul, and George each got one Lord of the Rings book to read in India. And they got excited about it."

Jackson went on to explain that the musicians' excitement led them to want to turn the story into a movie and had even decided on casting – Paul McCartney would have been Frodo, John Lennon would have been Gollum, George Harrison would have been Gandalf, and Ringo Starr would have been Sam with the band wanting 2001: A Space Odyssey director Stanley Kubrick to helm the project – but they were shot down by Tolkien.

"Ultimately, they couldn't get the rights from Tolkien, because he didn't like the idea of a pop group doing his story," Jackson said. "So, it got nixed by him. They tried to do it. There's no doubt about it. For a moment in time, they were seriously contemplating doing that at the beginning of 1968."

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