There are a lot of great “what if’s” when it comes to casting over the years, and you can wonder how things might have been different if Russell Crowe was cast in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. During a visit to Howard Stern’s show (watch below), Crowe opened up about being asked to take part in the Hollywood blockbusters, but turning it down.

Crowe, had he accepted, would have been cast as Aragorn, a role that raised the profile of Viggo Mortensen in the years after the trilogy concluded. But according to Crowe, he wasn’t sold that director Peter Jackson really wanted him for the part.

Stern asked if it was true that he would have been offered 10 percent of the backend gross, which calculated out to around $100 million. The actor laughed before responding, "Never thought about it — only in situations like interviews where people are polite and kind enough to add shit up for me."

Crowe, who is currently starring in Showtime’s The Loudest Voice limited series, explained to Stern exactly how he came to turn down the role. “I didn't think Peter Jackson wanted me on that film," the actor recalled. "Because he was forced into talking to me, because there was a moment in time when everyone wanted me in everything."

At the time, Crowe was on a hot streak that included Oscar-bait roles in L.A. Confidential, The Insider and Gladiator with A Beautiful Mind on the horizon.

Crowe went on to add that as a fellow New Zealander, he recognized something in how Jackson spoke to him that left him unconvinced about Jackson’s sincerity in the offer.

"I am talking to him on the phone, it is like, I don't think he even knows what I have done. I just knew that my instinct was that he had somebody else in mind, which turned out to be Viggo, and he should be allowed to hire the actor who he wants."

Stern then asked if Crowe was insinuating that his potential casting was forced upon Jackson by the studio, to which the actor said he felt that was the case. Watch the interview below.

Crowe, who appeared in Boy Erased last year, is next expected to appear in The True History of the Kelly Gang later this year.

Russell Crowe Speaks With Howard Stern

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