The Major Lord Of The Rings Role Daniel Day-Lewis Turned Down

Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the most lauded actors of all time. He's won three Academy Awards for Best Actor and his credits include "There Will Be Blood," "Gangs of New York," "My Left Foot," "The Last of the Mohicans," and "Lincoln." And back in the late '90s and early 2000s, Day-Lewis could have taken on pretty much any movie he wanted (although he famously took a five-year hiatus to apprentice as a cobbler). And when you're a star like that, you can also turn down major roles. 

Day-Lewis was a top choice to play Aragorn in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, but he ultimately turned it down. The role went to Viggo Mortensen instead (after Stuart Townshend filmed several weeks and was let go), and we all know how that went — he was brilliant. Now, it's hard to imagine Day-Lewis in the role, though Jackson did offer it to him.

The mind reels, wondering how anyone could turn down a juicy role based on the classic novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. But when you're Daniel Day-Lewis, you probably have other things to think about, like what kind of movie you're going to do. According to Mental Floss, Lewis said in a 2009 interview: "I wouldn't really want to be involved in making films I wouldn't want to go and see." 

Wait, but Mr. Day-Lewis ... the "Lord of the Rings" movies are really good!

Day-Lewis apparently wasn't into doing big budget studio franchises. It makes sense if you look at it from that standpoint — you sign on for "The Lord of the Rings," and you're committed for at least a few years.

A method actor's methods

Day-Lewis' casting might have been difficult for the other cast members as well. The fellowship of the ring famously got matching tattoos commemorating their incredible filming experience, and many of them even reunited to join Stephen Colbert for a 20th LOTR anniversary rap that was glorious to watch. But Day-Lewis is a method actor, getting into fights as his "Gangs of New York" character, learning to shoot a flintlock gun for "The Last of the Mohicans," and texting co-star Sally Field in-character as Abraham Lincoln for "Lincoln." Field said she didn't mind in an interview with Backstage, since she also studied method acting, but for three "Lord of the Rings" films? That would be a bit much.

One wonders, of course, what he would have done as Aragorn. I'm not talking about the performance. I'm sure it would have been amazing. I just mean in terms of his commitment to the role. Would he have eaten only lembas bread for the entire shoot? Spoken only Elvish to the Elven characters? He probably would have kicked the helmet Mortensen did on set (breaking his toes). Heck, maybe he would have only slept outside as the characters journey towards Mordor. Oh, no! I just thought of showers. You don't get those on long journeys in Middle-earth. Can you imagine how that would have gone over with the rest of the cast?

I'm being silly here (mostly), and Daniel Day-Lewis is an incredible actor. I will watch anything he's done, and will do. Still, maybe it's best that he didn't take on the role of Aragorn. Mortensen might do some method acting, but he seems a bit more reasonable.