With countless entertainment websites and blogs vying for every scrap of movie rumors, I’m often surprised to learn that some production choices can remain a secret for years after a film is released. Take The Lord of the Rings. Back in January, actor Dominic Monaghan caused a bit of a stir when he told The Huffington Post that David Bowie had come in for a quick audition for Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth franchise. The internet immediately kicked into high gear, attempting to suss out which character Bowie might have played, until the rumor finally faded into the background of The Lord of the Rings lore.

Until now. Yesterday, as part of a look back at The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, The Huffington Post (via Heroic Hollywood) spoke with franchise casting director Amy Hubbard and finally shed some light on those Bowie rumors. It turns out that Peter Jackson really did consider the famous singer-songwriter-actor for the role of Gandalf, only the latter was too short on time to come in for the audition:

He was unavailable. It was a very quick conversation with the legendary Chris Andrews at CAA. I do believe that [David 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.

When asked for clarification on what part Jackson had in mind for Bowie, Hubbard confirmed that the character of Gandalf was the main focus of the conversation:

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.

This marks the second big The Lord of the Rings casting rumor to break in the last couple of months, with Nicolas Cage admitting in October that he’d almost been cast in the role of Aragorn. There’s probably no doubt in anyone’s minds that Jackson and company picked the right actor for the role in Ian McKellan, but it’s tempting to imagine how Bowie’s otherworldly screen presence might have played in The Lord of the Rings franchise. If nothing else, this confirmation provides us yet another opportunity to look back on the career of David Bowie and take a moment to appreciate everything the man did. Even the movies he didn’t make turned out to be pretty great.

(And just for the record, if that franchise had starred Nicolas Cage and David Bowie? All of the Oscars. All of them.)

More From