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David Bowie could have been Rorschach in Zack Synder's Watchmen movie

The Thin White Duke wanted the role of the masked vigilante for himself.

David Bowie made director Nicolas Roeg's 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth a sci-fi classic. 
Rialto Pictures/StudioCanal

David Bowie's career on the big screen included playing Jareth the Goblin King in 1986's Labyrinth; real-life inventor Nikola Tesla in 2006's The Prestige; alien Thomas Jerome Newton in 1976's The Man Who Fell to Earth; a vampire in 1983's The Hunger; and pop artist Andy Warhol in 1996's Basquiat. And now, it seems, we almost got to see the music icon play Rorschach in the 2009 Watchmen movie.

Alan Moore -- who co-created the Watchmen comic with artist Dave Gibbons -- revealed on the BBC interview series Paperback Writers: Graphic Content this week that when director Terry Gilliam was planning to make a movie version of Watchmen, he told Moore Bowie asked to play the role of Rorschach.

The character Rorschach, known also as Walter Kovacs, is a ruthless masked vigilante who seeks to punish all criminals, no matter what. When it comes to evil, he only believes in black and white -- there is no gray. His mask displays a constantly morphing inkblot that looks like common designs in Rorschach tests, hence his nickname.


Actor Jackie Earle Haley portrays Rorschach in the 2009 film adaptation of Watchmen.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Gilliam eventually dropped the project and director Zack Synder was brought on board to make his own version of the Watchmen movie in 2009.

Ironically, Bowie would appear in Snyder's movie...  sort of. Actor J.R. Killigrew plays a version of David Bowie in a scene set outside nightclub Studio 54 in 1977. So while Bowie isn't technically in the Watchmen movie, his name is. 

Instead of Bowie, actor Jack Earle Haley was cast to play Rorschach in the Watchmen movie. "There's an alternate world we can only imagine," Moore said in the interview.

For now, fans will have to be satisfied with the Bowie-less Watchmen TV series, which premieres on HBO on Oct. 20.