By Devan Coggan
December 16, 2016 at 09:48 PM EST
Terry O'Neill/Getty Images; Mark Pokorny

Gandalf the Grey could have been played by the Thin White Duke.

Earlier this year, original Lord of the Rings cast member Dominic Monaghan recounted the story of how he went in to audition for the role of Meriadoc Brandybuck, only to have a chance encounter with David Bowie. For years, the iconic rocker was rumored to have been almost cast in the trilogy — some have said he was interested in playing Elrond, others suggested Gandalf — and Monaghan said he assumed Bowie was there to audition to play the bearded wizard.

Now, casting director Amy Hubbard is revealing the truth: Yes, director Peter Jackson was interested in casting Bowie as Gandalf, the part that ultimately went to Ian McKellen. But according to Hubbard, Bowie was too busy to even audition, let alone star in a major film trilogy.

“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 spoke to The Huffington Post in celebration of The Fellowship of the Ring’s 15th anniversary, adding, “We approached him. I’m pretty sure it was Peter Jackson’s idea in the first few weeks that we got going. It was one that he’d always wondered about, and we rang Chris, and [Bowie] was far too busy.”

So there you have it. And although it’s hard to imagine anyone but McKellen bellowing, “You shall not pass,” just think of what it might’ve been like to see Bowie take on a Balrog.

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