One lesser known story from Peter Weir's career is that he was originally pegged to direct The Thorn Birds, a sweeping mini-series which eventually starred Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. Here are a three newspaper clippings from around the time when he was considering the project.

Weir To Get Thorn Birds Job
August 7th, 1979

Australian Peter Weir is almost certain to be named as director of the $20 million movie The Thorn Birds following the sudden dropping of Herbert Ross. Weir, whose box office successes include Picnic At Hanging Rock and The Last Wave, is discussing the offer in Hollywood with the production company Warner Bros.

A Break For Weir?
August 7th, 1979

LOS ANGELES - Peter Weir may be about to win the biggest film break yet for an Australian. A columnist here reports that he is on his way to Hollywood for talks with Warner Brothers about taking over the job as director for the movie version of Colleen McCullough's huge novel "The Thorn Birds." This is the story of the NSW Outback which turned Colleen McCullough into a millionaire. Peter Weir is arriving at precisely the right time. Both his movies, "Picnic At Hanging Rock" and "The Last Wave" are showing at good movie houses in California and unquestionably no Australian films have ever received such rave reviews.
- Keith Dunstan


Why Weir refused 'The Thorn Birds'
September 12th, 1979

Film director Peter Weir is back in Australia after confounding Hollywood by refusing to direct a version of "The Thorn Birds" because he didn't like the script. He has told friends that he thought the script too melodramatic and all that had been retained of Colleen McCullough's best-seller were the highly dramatic incidents.Warner Brothers, who plan to spend almost $20 million on the film, were moved to ask Mr. Weir why he had journeyed to Los Angeles.

After talking to the "Thorn Birds" screenwriter, however, Mr. Weir found that it was possible to do another version. He is now waiting for the movie moguls to say whether they accept his modifications. The youthful master of the mysterious and maker of "Picnic At Hanging Rock" has two other projects in mind. Producer Pat Lovell is trying to raise $3 million to film a Gallipoli story by leading playwright David Williamson, but this may be cut back or dropped entirely because the money is not available.

And then there is a chance that Weir may shoot "The Year of Living Dangerously", a book about Australians in Indonesia by the young Sydney novelist, Christopher Koch. Peter Weir is reluctant to discuss his plans. "I've got a tremendously hard period of work ahead of me with scripts for the next two months," he tells us, "and I'm not doing interviews until I'm through it."