I will never forgive Jackson, says LOTR actor

By Dan Wootton

Actor Christopher Lee has agreed to put aside his differences with Kiwi director Peter Jackson - but will never forgive him for axing his scenes from The Return of the King.

Speaking exclusively to the Herald on Sunday at the Rose d'Or festival in Switzerland last night, Lee revealed that while he was still upset by the decision to remove his character, Saruman, from the third instalment of the Lord of the Rings series, it was now time to move on.

"When the third film came along and I wasn't in it, I didn't understand," he said. "And I still don't. "However, you can have a difference of opinion in any walk of life but you can't have ongoing arguments. I like Peter very much. He's a brilliant director. I just don't know why he did what he did."

For the first time, Lee, who most recently starred in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, recounted the pair's final meeting, at the film's Copenhagen premiere in 2003. Lee was fuming about his character and a dramatic death scene being left out of the film.

"When I found out I wasn't in the movie, I thought, 'What's the point in going to the premiere?' But Viggo Mortenson asked me to and I did.

"So I went and there was Peter. He was still big then. He came up to me and said he wanted to give me a big hug.

"We sat next to each other and he told me where my scenes would be inserted into the extended DVD.

"I told him, sarcastically, that that was good news.

"I haven't seen him since."

Lee, 84 next month, said he never expected to see Jackson again and would now not be able to make another trip to New Zealand.

"I'm too old now. The trip is just too long. It's such a tremendous journey. Sadly, I know I will never visit the Southern Hemisphere again.

"Just last week I turned down a role in an Australian film."

He added: "I love New Zealand. It's the most beautiful place in the world with the nicest people in the world. But it's also a country for the young, with the sea, land and sport."

In contrast to his chilly relationship with Jackson, Lee said he continued to keep in touch with Weta boss and Oscar winner Richard Taylor.

The pair last spoke at Christmas and one of his prized possessions was Saruman's staff, which Taylor presented to him at the end of filming.

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