Sigh. What could’ve been. There have been rumors for many years that the late, great David Bowie auditioned for a role in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy, which gained traction earlier this year when actor Dominic Monaghan — who portrayed the hobbit Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck — revealed he encountered Bowie during his audition. Now, thanks to an interview with LOTR casting director Amy Hubbard, we’re indeed given confirmation that Bowie was seriously floated around for a role in J. R. R. Tolkien’s sprawling universe. And that role was, in fact, none other than Gandalf. “He was unavailable,” Hubbard told the Huffington Post. “It was a very quick conversation with the legendary Chris Andrews at CAA. I do believe that [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.”
Hubbard stressed that Bowie never actually auditioned for the role — so who knows the exact reason Monaghan saw Bowie — and the idea never got beyond a phone call, much to the dismay of Jackson. “We approached him. I’m pretty sure it was Peter Jackson’s idea in the first few weeks that we got going,” she explained. “It was one that he’d always wondered about, and we rang Chris, and [Bowie] was far too busy.” The magically bearded role, of course, ended up going to Sir Ian McKellen, and the rest is history.