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The Real Reason Peter Jackson Isn't Involved In The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

From the moment Amazon bought the rights to part of Tolkien's Middle-earth stories back in 2017, fans have been wondering if Peter Jackson would be involved in the show. The venerable cinematic legend is a master when it comes to bringing Tolkien's world to the big screen. On top of the natural desire to have the filmmaker involved, fans had additional hope born out of the simple fact that Mr. Jackson had been convinced to join "The Hobbit" trilogy of films when they were made more than a decade after "The Lord of the Rings." If he could be talked into joining those sub-par additions to the on-screen Middle-earth canon, then surely, he could be talked into signing up for the new Amazon expedition into that hallowed fantasy realm.

However, as the months and years rolled by, it became clear that, in spite of the multi-billion-dollar budget and serialized appeal of the new show, Jackson wasn't going to join in on the fun. Instead, others took the helm. Director J.A. Bayona stepped in to film the first two episodes and the untried showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay were tapped to head up the project from the writers' room.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the two showrunners provided a huge amount of information regarding the upcoming show — including why Peter Jackson never got involved.

Why Peter Jackson isn't involved with The Rings of Power

In the Vanity Fair interview, McKay and Payne were asked if the show would look like "The Lord of the Rings," to which they answered that their new story would be "different but familiar" — a fact that many fans have already noted (with strongly varying opinions) even in the meager 60 seconds of footage that we received in the first trailer. This makes sense since the iconic films and the upcoming show aren't technically connected in the same cinematic (or legal) universe. In fact, Vanity Fair writer Joanna Robinson even points this out, writing: "It's worth remembering, if only for legal reasons, that this is not the exact same world. The production design, though similar, is not trying to match the Jackson films."

This all leads to a moment when Payne finally explains why Jackson himself never got involved in the project. Did he dramatically declare that it would never work? Was he sick and tired of creating Middle-earth content? Nope. His schedule just didn't line up. Payne simply states, "We reached out to Peter [Jackson], but between COVID and his schedules and our schedules, didn't manage to actually ever get together for coffee, but certainly would love to at some point." 

This doesn't exactly clear up what kind of "get together" the showrunners were hoping for. Did they want Jackson to actually join in? Or did they just want to pick his brain about all things Tolkien? Still, if even that small feat wasn't doable due to a clashing of schedules, it makes sense that Jackson didn't end up joining the larger project. Even so, McKay made a point to follow up on his partner's statement by saying, "Our only relationship is as big fans and admirers."

Plenty of the Jackson-verse will still influence the new show

Even without Peter Jackson on the set, there's no doubt that his influence will percolate through the show. At one point in the Vanity Fair interview, Payne described how much he and McKay admire Jackson's ability to nail the overall tone of Tolkien's works, adding that "What I loved about those first three films in particular [was] Peter and his collaborators captured...a unique blend of tones that Tolkien [uses] in his characters and his worlds."

Jackson's films will influence "The Rings of Power" series in other ways besides this vague conceptual influence, too. For instance, beloved conceptual designer John Howe — who, according to Vanity Fair, is involved in the show in some capacity — and the "Rings of Power" costume designers Kate Hawley both have experience working in Jackson's universe. Howard Shore, who memorably brought Middle-earth to life through his musical compositions, was also in talks to join the show back in September of 2021 (as reported by Deadline) although as of this writing he still isn't confirmed on the show's IMDB page.

Still, from the behind-the-scenes crew to the general influence of the past movies, there's no doubt that we'll get some Peter Jackson-esque influence in "Rings of Power" sooner or later, even if it doesn't come directly from Mr. Jackson himself.