Classic Disney villain David Bowie almost played
What if David Bowie had played a classic Disney villain? He was considered the voice of Hades in animated Hercules, but lost the role.
One of the best Disney villains of all time is Hades from Hercules (1997), but what if David Bowie had played it? Bowie was originally seen as the master of the underworld in the Disney animated classic, but the production team behind the film decided to go in a different direction. Had they chosen Bowie in the role, Hades would have been a much more dramatic and eclectic evil antagonist than he ultimately was. Now that a Hercules The live-action film is in development, the question of how to launch Hades is pending again.
Hercules is Walt Disney Pictures’ version of the Greek myth of Heracles, the demigod of unmatched strength. In the children’s animated film, a young Hercules teams up with his mentor Phil the Satyr (voiced by Danny DeVito) and his winged horse Pegasus to become immortal and join his father Zeus. Along the way, he conquers all manner of beasts and becomes famous, but it is ultimately his willingness to sacrifice his own life for Meg’s that proves he truly is a hero. Hercules is one of those classic Disney movies that has lasted all these years and its unparalleled soundtrack, composed by Alan Menken, is still one of Disney’s best to this day.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
Rumors about the casting of Hades have been swirling for decades and the list of actors considered is incredibly long. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker had a notoriously difficult time finding the perfectly villainous voice for the role. Among those allegedly considered are Jim Carrey, Christopher Walken, John Travolta, Kevin Spacey, James Coburn, Phil Hartman and Rod Steiger. Those who were more seriously considered, however, were Jack Nicholson, Willem Dafoe, John Lithgow and Bowie, before the role eventually returned to James Woods.
When Clements and Musker first auditioned actors to play Hades, they had them deliver their lines in a straight and serious tone. Nicholson was the first actor approached for the role, but negotiations collapsed. Then Lithgow got the role and even recorded several of his lines, but the film’s creative team didn’t think he was the right fit and ended up recasting the role with Woods. Woods surprised the directors when he portrayed Hades as a fast-talking salesman and added several of his lines, leading him in a drier comic direction. the Hercules which ended up being released featured an entirely different Hades than originally planned, and a version with Bowie in the role certainly would have been unforgettable as well.
Back in the days when Bowie was being considered for the role of Hades, he was well into his career as an artist and celebrity. Around the time the film was in development, Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was in his so-called “electronic period” while preparing for the 1997 release. Earthling album. Bowie’s film career had already led him to many film and stage roles, by Martin Scorsese The last temptation of Christ the dark whimsical Labyrinth (1986). The unique artistry and presence that made him the singular star that he was were well known, and the directors of Hercules probably saw in him a mixture of eclectic humor and surreal obscurity that would have brought color to the dark world of Hades. While it’s a shame that audiences never see Bowie’s portrayal of Hades, Woods’ talent in the role cannot be denied.
Next: James Bond Villain David Bowie Almost Performed (& Why He Wasn’t Chosen)
Amazon Tried To Create Its Own Game of Thrones: How Jeff Bezos’ Plan Failed