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Peter Jackson weighed hypnosis to see Lord of the Rings with fresh eyes

Director Peter Jackson arrives at the 2001 premiere of “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” in Los Angeles. (Lucy Nicholson/AP)

Peter Jackson wishes he could watch his Lord of the Rings trilogy like a normal person — but sadly, he said, that could never happen.

That desire was so intense that the director sought help to forget he made the films at all, he said on a recent episode of the Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” podcast, explaining that he consulted with a hypnotherapist to wipe the slate clean.

“It was such a loss for me not to be able to experience them like everyone else was, that I actually did seriously consider going to a … hypnotherapy guy and to hypnotize me, to make me forget about the films and forget about the work I’d done over the last six or seven years, so at least I could sit and enjoy them.”

Jackson said he consulted with Derren Brown, a celebrity illusionist, and that Brown thought he could help. But Jackson did not go through with it, he said, not explaining why.

It’s unclear what Brown would have done to help the director forget the years of hard work Jackson put into the classic trilogy, and a representative for Brown told The Washington Post the illusionist was not available to answer questions.

But some hypnotherapists say a memory erasure a la “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” — a 2004 film in which a broken-up couple seeks out a fictional service to completely erase memories of each other — is mostly the stuff of Hollywood.

Andrew Cunningham, a British hypnotherapist, wrote in a 2015 HuffPost essay that hypnotherapy cannot erase memories entirely but rather can alter the way a person feels about a negative event.

“Each time we remember we are adding to that memory even though it may seem we are simply recalling. And it is in the style of recall that hypnotherapy can help us to ‘forget,’ ” he wrote. “Because what we want to forget is not the fact that it happened but the way we feel about that memory, the way the emotions and the body responds on recall.”

Ava Evans, a Los Angeles-based hypnotherapist, also said it’s impossible to erase memories, and others in her field would agree, she said. She told The Post that while people seek her out to forget traumatic experiences, she instead works with them to take the “negative emotion” out of a memory.

But to use hypnotherapy to completely forget a memory, “I’ve never heard about that,” she said, adding, “To forget about a strong memory like forgetting a movie you directed, I believe that would be unlikely using hypnotherapy.”

Jackson’s remarks came ahead of the release of Amazon’s new series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” which premieres Sept. 2 and whose first season cost nearly a half-billion dollars to make. Jackson said he was initially approached to work on the project, but when he asked to see the script, he was never sent a copy. So Jackson did not work on the show, he said.

In response to Jackson’s remarks, Amazon Studios told the Hollywood Reporter: “In pursuing the rights for our show, we were obligated to keep the series distinct and separate from the films.”

Jackson noted that, in some ways, he was blessed not to be involved. He’ll finally get a version of his wish — to watch the series with fresh eyes and no knowledge of how it was made.

“The one thing that I am looking forward to is actually seeing it as a perfectly neutral viewer because I always felt when we did the Lord of the Rings movies, that I was the unlucky person who never got to see them as a … coming-out-of-the-blue type film.”

Amazon is also excited, adding in its statement: “We have the utmost respect for Peter Jackson and The Lord of The Rings films and are thrilled that he is looking forward to watching The Rings of Power.”

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