In a bit of eerie “what could’ve been” casting news, Death Note director Adam Wingard revealed that his top two choices for the voice of the demonic death god Ryuk were two recently deceased pop song icons.
Wingard, director of horror films like Blair Witch and The Guest plus the upcoming blockbuster Godzilla vs. Kong, has had to face his share of issues throughout the production of his Netflix adaptation of the uber-popular Japanese manga series. The concept of the adaptation has come under controversy for being yet another example of white washing a non-Caucasian story, casting non-Japanese actor Nat Wolff in the main role and shifting the setting to Seattle. Even in the casting of one of the film’s supernatural characters (with no discernible race), Wingard ran into some issues that were tragic and unforeseeable.
In an interview with io9, Wingard discussed his interpretation of Ryuk, the death god responsible for delivering the deadly Death Note book to Wolff’s Light Turner. The interviewer notes that Wingard’s initial description of the character is reminiscent of the Goblin King character that music legend David Bowie memorably portrayed in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Wingard let loose that not only was Bowie his first choice to voice Ryuk, but fellow worldwide icon Prince was his second:
“Yeah! There you go. Well, as a matter of fact, David Bowie was actually originally who I wanted to Ryuk—but then David Bowie died. And then the second person on my list was Prince, weirdly enough—and then he died. And I was like, we got to stop, we’re literally killing them off. Which is really morbid, but it was true.”
Death is certainly an unpredictable part of life, one that no one can plan for, but Wingard losing his top two choices for the role is definitely a shame. Bowie passed away in January 2016 at the age of 69 after a battle with liver cancer, while Prince died after an accidental opioid overdose in April of 2016 at just the age of 57. Of course, there are no guarantees that Bowie or Prince would have signed on for Death Note, and Wingard eventually settled on a great actor in Willem Dafoe, but this still represents a curious “what-if”.
Early reviews for the film have not been kind, with critics stating that the film is a poor adaptation of the property and ultimately fails to be a compelling or even competent film in many aspects. Fans of Death Note can now make up their mind on whether the film disrespects or pays tribute to the manga series, as it is available to watch on Netflix starting today.
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