Skip to main content
The Web    CNN.com      Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
Entertainment

Hey, what happened to Saruman?

Christopher Lee character left behind in 'Return'

Lee
Christopher Lee in the first film, "The Fellowship of the Ring." His scenes for "Return of the King" didn't make the final cut, but will be on the DVD.

Story Tools

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- In "The Fellowship of the Ring," Christopher Lee appeared as the traitorous elder wizard Saruman, whose snowy white beard and robe hid his black-hearted intentions for Middle-earth.

In "The Two Towers," Saruman watched his power fade as enormous walking trees laid waste to his army of ugly orcs and trapped him in his stone skyscraper.

The final installment, "The Return of the King," reveals that Saruman is ... well, where is he? Certainly not in the movie.

All of the 81-year-old Lee's closing scenes were cut from "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, a move that has angered thousands of hard-core fans and may confuse the casual moviegoer who wonders why one of the story's main villains has simply disappeared.

In the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, Saruman escapes his tower and overtakes the Shire, a peaceful Hobbit homestead. His death comes at the end of the books when Frodo and company try to eject him from their village.

That particular subplot was never filmed by Jackson. Instead, he shot an alternate climax for the wicked wizard character that he intended to place at the end of "The Two Towers."

But that didn't work out either.

"It seemed like an anticlimax," Jackson said. After that film's elaborate battle sequence in the mountain stronghold of Helm's Deep, the director said he felt audiences would want "to finish that film off as quickly as we could."

'It didn't work'

The seven-minute sequence that ends Saruman's story line was held for use near the beginning of "The Return of the King."

"As it is, it didn't work in the theatrical cut of 'Return of the King' either, because it felt like we were finishing off last year's movie instead of jumping in and setting up the tension for the new film," Jackson said.

Instead, the characters mention perfunctorily that Saruman is powerless -- then they move on to the rest of the story.

Jackson
Filmmaker Peter Jackson tried to fit Saruman's scenes in the new film, but they "didn't work," he says.

That explanation hasn't satisfied many fans. An Internet petition asking Jackson to reinstate the Saruman footage has gathered more than 40,000 signatures.

"I believe this cut will hurt 'The Return of the King,' " wrote petition founder Matt Shuster. "Please Peter Jackson, at least consider putting this scene back into the theatrical version, and give us Saruman fans/haters some much needed closure."

Shuster has since posted an addendum, acknowledging it was too late to change the film. "Signing the petition now will only serve to breed ill will against the filmmakers and that is not my intent."

Jackson promised fans that the sequence would be included in the extended DVD edition of "The Return of the King," which is expected to be released next fall.

"It will ultimately take its place as part of the greater package," Jackson said. "The scene is perfectly fine. Christopher is good in the scene and there's nothing wrong with it."

'At least it is not lost'

Lee, who also plays the villain Count Dooku in last year's "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones," has appeared in about 250 movies. The 6-foot-4 actor is best known for his suave, calculating evildoers in the Hammer horror films of the 1960s, and is ranked along with Bela Lugosi among the actors most remembered for playing Count Dracula.

start quoteThe scene is perfectly fine. Christopher is good in the scene and there's nothing wrong with it.end quote
-- Peter Jackson

The British actor did not respond to a request for comment on his cut scenes, but he told Britain's ITV-1 last month he was dismayed by Jackson's decision. "Of course I am very shocked, that's all I can say," he said, citing confidentiality agreements that required him to hold his tongue.

Lee, who was an acquaintance of Tolkien's, has said he has read the trilogy every year for the past five decades.

Ian McKellen, who as the good wizard Gandalf had magical duel with Saruman in "Fellowship," said he doubted that Lee had any lingering hurt feelings.

"It would have been nice to see Saruman dealt with, wouldn't it," McKellen said. "He hasn't told me there was a problem. I can't imagine that a man who has made as many movies as Christopher is surprised that sometimes what you've shot doesn't make it into the final movie.

"At least it is not lost," McKellen added, smiling. "It will be there on the DVD, and people will be able to say to Peter, 'You should have put it into the movie!' "



Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Story Tools
Click Here to try 4 Free Trial Issues of Time! cover
Top Stories
The radio stations that play anything
Top Stories
Senate confirms Owen for circuit court
Search JobsMORE OPTIONS


 

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.