Here’s a little more substance to the long-standing rumor that David Bowie could have appeared in The Lord of the Rings: Dominic Monaghan, who played hungry hobbit Merry in the films, remembered seeing Bowie during his audition at Hubbard’s, a casting agency in London. “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 five or 10 minutes. We’ll give you some feedback,” Monaghan told the Huffington Post. “I thought, Oh, okay, 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.”
But rumor has it that it wasn’t Gandalf but, rather, Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, a part eventually played by Hugo Weaving, that Bowie had auditioned for. In a 2001 EW article, Jackson said that he wanted to cast relative newcomers, lest someone’s fame overshadow the part. “These are famous, famous characters, loved for nearly 50 years,” Jackson said. “To have a famous, beloved character and a famous star colliding is slightly uncomfortable.” No doubt he was afraid all we’d see is the Goblin King from Labyrinth, which, fair.