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
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.
August 7th, 1979
A Break For Weir?
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.
August 7th, 1979
- Keith Dunstan
Why Weir refused 'The Thorn Birds'
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.
September 12th, 1979
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."