David Bowie, Nicolas Cage and the cast that never existed in Peter Jackson’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’

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Films sometimes have very long pre-production stages that lead to months of casting ideas that, once the film has been shot, turn out to be strange and sometimes inappropriate. Many times they are ideas that do not come out of the offices, other times the star is not interested. Peter Jackson, an expert at making pre-productions on his films drag on for years, has some of the most striking casts-that-never-was in Hollywood. These are some of the actors who never got to participate in ‘The Lord of the Rings’… although they tried.

David Bowie

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Proposed role: Elrond.

Why didn’t you get it: The writers pitched Bowie, but New Line executives remembered his role in another fantasy film, “Into the Labyrinth” as Jareth, the Goblin King. Although it is a film that has achieved cult status over the years, it was not so much in 2001, and the catastrophic box office disaster of Jim Henson’s masterpiece and the playful and singing image of that character still weighed on it, and it was thought that the public could not overcome it.

Who ended up playing the character: Hugo Weaving.

Nicolas Cage

Proposed role: Aragorn.

Why didn’t you get it: Of course, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ would have ended up being a very different adaptation if The Cage had played Aragorn, but keep in mind that his position in the industry, as the star of blockbusters like ‘Con Air’, was very different from the current one. His reason for rejecting the role that Jackson offered him was that “at that time things were happening in my life that prevented me from being away from home and staying away for a long time, for three years,” as he told In an interview. Also around that time, she turned down starring in ‘The Matrix’ because, like Jackson’s films, they required too much time away from his residence.

Who ended up playing the character: Viggo Mortensen.

In what order to watch the 'The Lord of the Rings' saga: from chronological to the order in which they were released

Sean Connery

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Proposed role: Gandalf.

Why didn’t you get it: Peter Jackson went so far as to convince New Line to pay the actor $30 million plus 15% of the box office, which would have been a hefty pinch, considering it grossed $3 billion worldwide. Instead of him, Connery preferred to participate in what would be his last film, the infamous ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’. His motive, a dismissive “I read the book. I read the script. I saw the movie. I still don’t get it,” as he later stated.

Who ended up playing the character: Ian McKellen.

Russell Crowe

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Proposed role: Aragorn.

Why didn’t you get it: Russell Crowe was at the height of his fame at the time he was offered the role of Aragorn, to the point that he could not be offered a prize for participating, but a percentage of the income: 10% of the box office which would have brought him a spectacular economic benefit. In 2019, confessed to Howard Stern that, when he spoke to Jackson, he had the feeling that the director didn’t really want him for the part, but had someone else in mind, and so he decided not to accept.

Who ended up playing the character: Viggo Mortensen.

Christopher Plummer

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Proposed role: Gandalf.

Why didn’t you get it: The legendary actor from classics such as ‘Smiles and Tears’ or ‘The Man Who Could Rule’ and whom we saw shortly before his death in ‘Daggers in the Back’ was a Tolkien fan forever. However, he did not want to play Gandalf because moving to New Zealand for three years required a commitment that he could not afford at his age. always praisedhowever, the interpretation of McKellen, to whom he saw a warmth that he would not have known how to give.

Who ended up playing the character: Ian McKellen.

Kate Winslet

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Proposed role: Éowyn.

Why didn’t you get it: When Peter Jackson offered the role of Éowyn to Kate Winslet, she was already a prestigious actress thanks to ‘Titanic’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Jackson, however, had the advantage of having worked with her on one of her first films, “Heavenly Creatures.” Like so many other actors on this list, he turned down her role because of the commitment and effort involved in staying in New Zealand for three years.

Who ended up playing the character: Miranda Otto

Daniel Day-Lewis

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Proposed role: Aragorn.

Why didn’t you get it: For a season, Peter Jackson was obsessed with the protagonist of ‘In the name of the father’ giving life to Aragorn, and tried to convince him on several occasions. Apparently, his reason for rejecting the role was that he was not interested in participating in large franchises, a type of film that he respected, but he does not understand or want to participate in them. And then what the hell is the actor working on now, if everything is franchises? He retired in 2017.

Who ended up playing the character: Viggo Mortensen.

'The Rings of Power' is the most spectacular series of the moment, but it fails as an adaptation of 'The Lord of the Rings'

umma thurman

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Proposed role: Éowyn.

Why didn’t you get it: Once again, the demanding shooting conditions of the trilogy were an impediment to having this actress. In this case, there was a very specific reason: Thurman and her husband Ethan Hawke had had her first child. Since then, as in this interviewhas expressed his regret for not having participated in the films, a movement that he describes as “a bad decision”.

Who ended up playing the character: Miranda Otto

Ethan Hawke

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Proposed role: Faramir.

Why didn’t you get it: Precisely the husband of Uma Thurman was contacted to give life to Faramir, Boromir’s younger brother. It was even more painful for him to turn down this role, as Hawke has considered himself a compulsive reader of Tolkien since adolescence. But with Thurman turning down a role in the trilogy to care for her newborn daughter, he just couldn’t accept a character from that production.

Who ended up playing the character: David Wenham

Lucy Lawless

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Proposed role: Galadriel.

Why didn’t you get it: Fans who now cry to heaven because ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ has turned the elf Galadriel into an armored warrior, something that is mentioned in the books regarding her younger years, should knowing that the unbeatable Xena already aspired to the role in the Jackson trilogy. Undoubtedly benefited by the fact that she is New Zealander and by the success of the Warrior Princess series, Lawless… she forgot to go to the casting for which she was scheduled. She had just given birth at the time (which is why she also declined to appear in the first ‘X-Men’), so perhaps we weren’t meant to see her play the Elf.

Who ended up playing the character: Cate Blanchett

Films sometimes have very long pre-production stages that lead to months of casting ideas that, once the film has been…

Films sometimes have very long pre-production stages that lead to months of casting ideas that, once the film has been…

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