ByScott McCann, writer at
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Scott McCann

There's no denying that Peter Jackson absolutely nailed it when it came to the casting for his epic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although many fans are already well acquainted with the stories of Sean Connery passing on Gandalf and Nicholas Cage nearly taking up the mantle of Aragorn, there was always one rumour that was neither confirmed or denied...

Did David Bowie truly read for a part in The Lord of the Rings?

Shortly after his death, one member of the fellowship has taken it upon himself to reveal that yes, Bowie was nearly part of the Middle Earth epic. Of course, in true Bowie fashion, the iconic rock star wasn't just going to be anyone.

In fact, Dominic Monaghan, who played the loveable Meriadoc ‘Merry’ Brandbuck in the trilogy, reckoned David Bowie was reading for none other than the part of Gandalf the Grey.

Bowie w/ Hobbits Wood & Monaghan via Gettyimages
Bowie w/ Hobbits Wood & Monaghan via Gettyimages

Speaking to The Huffington Post, the Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan star shared this awesome revelation:

I was at the Hubbard's, which is a pretty notorious casting agency office in London, doing an audition for 'Lord of the Rings,' and when it ended I went over and talked to John Hubbard, who was running the audition, and he said, 'Hey, it went really well. You should wait around for 5 or 10 mins. We'll give you some feedback," He continued, "I thought, 'Oh, OK, cool, and I sat in the reception office. As I was reading a magazine waiting, 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. He may have read for something else, but I'm a huge David Bowie fan, and I was lucky enough to know his son now so just seeing him in person was pretty special to me.

Of course, fans can't feel too dismayed. In his place we were given the incredible Sir Ian Mckellen, and in hindsight it truly is hard to think of any other actor who could of brought the iconic Gandalf to life so vividly.

Many point to Peter Jackson's comments to Entertainment Weekly in 2001 as the reason behind David Bowie's omission.

Although Dominic Monaghan assumed that David Bowie read for the part of the Grey Wizard, various rumours and outlets have reported that the rockstar was in fact in contention for the part of Lord Elrond. Peter Jackson had other plans.

The Oscar winning director confirmed that he'd deliberately chosen lesser known actors such as Dominic Monaghan and Orlando Bloom, to take on the characters of Tolkien's fantasy epic, for a very good reason.

These are famous, famous characters, loved for nearly 50 years,” he said. “To have a famous beloved character and a famous star colliding is slightly uncomfortable

The Lord of Rivendell was eventually cast as Hugo Weaving, reprising the role throughout the trilogy and even in the recent Hobbit adaptations.

Hugo Weaving as Lord Elrond
Hugo Weaving as Lord Elrond

To be honest, we can't fault any of his casting choices. Much like the original casting of Star Wars by George Lucas, choosing relatively unknown actors proved to be a highly successful decision.

As Peter Jackson points out, these characters had already been around for nearly 50 years. Tolkien already had a massive fan base, and before the release of The Fellowship of the Ring, many were apprehensive at seeing their beloved literature being taken to the screen. None more than Tolkien's son, Christopher, who still to this day is a vocal opponent to the Peter Jackson adaptations of his father's work.

That said, I do still believe that David Bowie would have given an epic performance in The Lord of the Rings. We only have to take a look at the performances he gave throughout his career in cinema. From

Whether it be playing a glam rock Goblin King in the cult classic Labyrinth, a Japanese prisoner of war in Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, famed scientist Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige or simply himself in cameo roles such as Zoolander or Ricky Gervais' hilarious Extras, David Bowie had an unrivaled charisma that oozed out of each of his performances.

It seems only fitting that David Bowie, a man whose influence on pop culture is unparalleled, would have been in contention for a role in one the defining film trilogies in cinematic history to date.


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