Russell Crowe is among the list of actors who turned down the role of Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film series, and now he’s spoken about why he said no to what could have become a career-defining role. Crowe told Howard Stern that it was his impression that Jackson never really wanted him for the part, and he agreed that it was his understanding that the studio went after him because he was so popular at the time.

“I didn’t think Peter Jackson actually wanted me on the film; I think he was forced into talking to me. There was a moment in time where everybody wanted me in everything,” Crowe said. “And he’s a fellow New Zealander; so I can hear his voice. I’m talking to him on the phone. And it’s like, I don’t think he even knows what I’ve done. My instinct was that he had somebody else in mind, which turned out to be Viggo Mortensen. And he should be allowed to hire the actor that he wants.”

Other actors who reportedly said no to the role of Aragorn include Nicolas Cage and Daniel Day-Lewis. Stuart Townsend was ultimately cast as Aragorn. He spent months training and filmed multiple days on set before Jackson decided to recast the role with Mortensen.

Stern said, and Crowe nodded in agreement, that Crowe was offered 10 percent of the gross box office performance of the Lord of the Rings series. That would have made him an enormously wealthy person, but Crowe says he doesn’t lose sleep over it. After all, Crowe casually dropped $35,000 on a dinosaur skull that he drunkenly bought from Leonardo DiCaprio.

Also in the Howard Stern interview, Crowe talked about passing on another high-profile role: Wolverine. Hugh Jackman was eventually cast, and Crowe praised his performance. “Even if I had done the film, I wouldn’t have carried it through with the grace and the direction that Hugh gave it,” he said.

The latest Lord of the Rings movie is the biopic Tolkien that tells the story of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s life and the events leading up to his writing of the acclaimed series.

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