There’s no doubt that The Lord of the Rings film franchise was epic as it was, but having David Bowie in it may have actually made it beyond epic. And that’s exactly what almost happened back when the folks behind the scenes were in casting mode.
Dominic Monaghan, who you’ll know as the hobbit Merry, confirmed the rumor for The Huffington Post saying he himself spotted Bowie at the casting agency. “David Bowie came in and signed his little list and went in. And I’m assuming he read for Gandalf. I can’t think of anything else he would’ve read for.” Other buzz says that the “Ziggy Stardust” singer actually wanted to play the role of Elrond.
Gandalf, Elrond… David Bowie could’ve played either and it surely would have been a performance on par with his role of Jareth in Labyrinth.
So why did he not get the gig? Well, it turns out Bowie was just too busy. In fact, he was never able to actually fit in a full audition. “He was unavailable,” said Amy Hubbard. “It was a very quick conversation with the legendary Chris Andrews at CAA. I do believe that [David Bowie] went over and played for everybody at the Millennium party. That would’ve been New Year’s Eve in the year 1999, which was when the films were being shot. He went over and entertained everybody, but he never auditioned. That’s for sure.”
But she does confirm that the interest was there. “We approached him. I’m pretty sure it was Peter Jackson’s idea in the first few weeks that we got going. It was one that he’d always wondered about, and we rang Chris, and [Bowie] was far too busy.”
In the end, Sir Ian McKellen stepped into the role of Gandalf and Hugo Weaving took on Elrond, and I think we can agree they did a pretty darn good job. But still, Bowie wouldn’t be amazingly cool in the films.
(h/t The Huffington Post; photos via David Bowie/Facebook, New Line Cinema, Giphy)