This Wednesday will mark Sir Ian McKellen’s sixth time playing the role of Gandalf with the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. He’s been playing the most powerful wizard in all of Middle Earth so long (13 years) that it’s difficult to picture anybody else slipping into Gandalf’s hat and beard.
The cast of The Lord of the Rings trilogy that fans have come to know and love wasn’t always what Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema had in mind. The movie probably still would have been an incredible success because of Peter Jackson’s direction and the series’ amazing CGI work, but we would certainly have a very different view of Elrond and Aragorn if the competition had landed the roles.
Here are five actors who were vying to be part of the Fellowship of the Ring, but for various reasons lost out.
David Bowie — Elrond
The White Duke already had experience playing a goblin king, so you would think he’d have an easy transition to playing an elf king, right? He probably could have saved the wardrobe department a few bucks and just worn his old costume from Labryinth, too. David Bowie had expressed interest in playing the Elf lord, but Peter Jackson just wasn’t feeling it and thought that the singer’s fame would overshadow the part.
“These are famous, famous characters, loved for nearly 50 years,” Jackson says. “To have a famous, beloved character and a famous star colliding is slightly uncomfortable.” Via EW
Sean Connery — Gandalf
Peter Jackson has maintained that Ian McKellen was always his numero uno pick for Gandalf, but the studio had other plans and was after Scottish actor Sean Connery. New Line Cinema offered the former James Bond actor $6 million per film to join the cast, and when he shot that down they threw in a 15% stake in the film franchise’s box office profits, meaning Sean lost out on around $450 million. He’s not bent out of shape about losing the part and simply said that he didn’t understand the role to begin with. “I read the book. I read the script. I saw the movie. I still don’t understand it. Ian McKellen, I believe, is marvelous in it.”