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How Close David Bowie Was To Playing Gandalf In Lord Of The Rings

david bowie lord of the rings

2016 has been a rough year for many people. One of the ways the year has been devastating was in regards to celebrity deaths, of which there were many. There were a ton of legends who unfortunately passed away this year, and chief among them was singer, writer, actor, and visionary David Bowie. Bowie unfortunately passed away this year after a battle with liver cancer, leading many to recount his various creative projects, as well as the influence he left on the world he left behind. One of these subjects of conversation is Bowie's career in acting, and a new rumor reports that he was actually in the early running to play Gandalf in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings franchise.

Amy Hubbard did casting for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and she recently spoke to the folks over at Huffington Post in honor of the first film's 15th anniversary. She eventually revealed how David Bowie was briefly considered for the role of Gandalf, which would eventually go to the incomparable Ian McKellan.

He was unavailable. 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.

Well, there you go. Despite all of our need to see David Bowie with a magical staff and pointy hat, it appears that his path to Gandalf was a relatively short one. The icon was simply too busy for the grueling film schedule, and he didn't even end up actually auditioning for the role.

Rumors of David Bowie's supposed participation in The Lord of the Rings began a few months ago when Lost actor Dominic Monaghan, who played Merry the hobbit in the trilogy, spoke to The Huffington Post about his work on the franchise. During that interview, he eventually revealed that he saw Bowie at the casting agency during auditions. Monaghan couldn't think of a role other than Gandalf that David Bowie would be right for, leading many to wonder if Ziggy Stardust was originally supposed to head to middle earth back in 2001.

I'd actually argue that David Bowie would have been able to play quite a few roles in The Lord of the Rings franchise. With his angular bone structure and cheekbones, he's a natural pick for an elf character. Early reports stated that David Bowie expressed interest in playing Elrond, which seems like a great role for the actor. But Peter Jackson believed having such a superstar in the franchise would be distracting for the audience, leading them to cast The Matrix actor Hugo Weaving in the role.

Would you have liked to see David Bowie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Sound off in the comments below.

Corey Chichizola
Corey Chichizola

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.