Beatles Wanted 'Rings' 40 Years Ago

03/29/2002 at 09:25 AM EST

It got four Oscars on Sunday, but "The Lord of the Rings" almost once had four Beatles. The film's director, New Zealander Peter Jackson, has told Wellington's Evening Post newspaper that John Lennon wanted to play the role of the avaricious creature Gollum and Paul McCartney was to play Frodo Baggins in a proposed '60s Beatles movie version of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy that never reached fruition. In fact, says Jackson, it was the author himself who nixed the plan. "It was something John was driving and J.R.R. Tolkien still had the film rights at that stage, but he didn't like the idea of the Beatles doing it. So he killed it," Jackson told the newspaper. George Harrison would have played the role that eventually went to Sir Ian McKellen, that of the wise wizard Gandalf, and Ringo Starr would have been Frodo's devoted sidekick, Sam. "There probably would've been some good songs coming off the album," Jackson said of the Fab Four's plan. This week, New Line Home Entertainment (which, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner) announced an Aug. 6 release of the theatrical DVD version of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" in a two-DVD set containing two hours of bonus material and a sneak preview of Jackson's sequel, "The Two Towers," which is due to open in theaters Dec. 18. On Nov. 12, there will be another New Line DVD: a "Special Extended Edition" of "The Lord of the Rings" that adds some 30 minutes of footage to the already three-hour movie.

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