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Playing the enigmatic millionaire who revived the Nexus line of Replicants, as well as what remained of the Tyrell Corporation, Jared Leto's Niander Wallace is the new heavy hitter in the world of Blade Runner 2049. But if director Denis Villeneuve's original plans had panned out, a different musician/actor would have inhabited that role. And it would have been none other than the late, great David Bowie. Villeneuve admitted as much when he shared the following statement:
Our first thought [for the character] had been David Bowie, who had influenced Blade Runner in many ways. 'When we learned the sad news, we looked around for someone like that.
Even in its current incarnation, the chracter of Niander Wallace definitely looks like someone that Bowie would have aced in a heartbeat. With an air of chilled authority, yet underlying menace, you can practically see the qualities that would draw Villeneuve to want to cast the Thin White Duke as his central power player. But unfortunately, with his passing in early 2016, the Blade Runner 2049 role is one of the mysterious "what ifs" that David Bowie left behind, on top of his entertainment legacy.
While this was reported earlier in the year, Denis Villeneuve emphasized the validity of the story to the UK publication Metro, which puts this role in the same pile as the potential cameo that director James Gunn was hoping the legendary singer could play in this summer's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. While David Bowie never got to take either role personally, in a sense, his legacy is continuing to inspire the world of Blade Runner 2049, and you can see it in Jared Leto.
One has to wonder if Leto took some method inspiration from the way that Bowie carried himself, as the more we think about it, Blade Runner 2049's Wallace still feels very much in the realm of the characteristics described above. And knowing how much Suicide Squad's Joker loves to dig into and prepare for a role, it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine that he'd sit in his trailer wearing his blinding contacts, listening to choice David Bowie tunes. Keep that in mind as you watch the short "Nexus Dawn," which highlights Niander Wallace years before the central conflict of Blade Runner 2049.