Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve has admitted his original choice for new villain Neander Wallace was music legend David Bowie. Since the singer passed away at the beginning of 2016, numerous filmmakers have revealed they sought to cast him in their projects prior to his death.
David Lynch contacted him about reprising his role as Phil Jeffries in Twin Peaks: The Return, but while he received permission to reuse his old footage, the singer declined involvement due to his illness. Death Note director Adam Wingard wanted the singer to voice Ryuk – a role taken by Willem Dafoe in the film – and James Gunn wanted to cast Bowie as one of Yondu's original Ravagers in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.
Our first thought [for the character] had been David Bowie, who had influenced Blade Runner in many ways.When we learned the sad news, we looked around for someone like that.
The role of the ruthless villain instead fell to Thirty Seconds To Mars frontman Jared Leto, who was approached for the film after wrapping Suicide Squad. Displaying the same method approach he applies to all his roles, the actor decided to play Wallace completely blind for the duration of filming. A recent short film called 2036: Nexus Dawn shed some light on the sinister manufacturer, revealing his genetically modified food helped solve world hunger, and that he’s responsible for getting the prohibition on replicants lifted.
This short was one of three films that fill in the gap between the original Blade Runner and its much-anticipated follow-up. The other shorts include Nowhere To Run, which focuses on Dave Bautista’s Sapper Morton, a fugitive replicant on the run from authorities, and finally Blade Runner: Blackout 2022. This anime film shows the biggest event to happen between films, where replicants caused a devastating global blackout to free themselves from humanity; this is what caused a prohibition on their manufacture to come into force.
While fans may have been worried about the long belated sequel living up to its predecessor, early word on Blade Runner 2049 has been overwhelmingly positive, with some even labeling it a masterpiece. Time will tell if audiences feel the same way, but with Blade Runner 2049’s stellar line-up of talent behind and in front of the camera, it’s hard not to get a little hyped for the film.
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