Director Adam Wingard didn’t originally picture Willem Defoe (‘Spider-Man’,’What Happened to Monday’) as the demonic Ryuk in ‘Death Note‘. In fact, when thinking about a “demon wearing glam rock clothing” it looked like Wingard wanted an actual rock star to fill the role. The only problem is that every star he wanted ended up dead as if whoever he wrote down was part of a real life ‘Death Note’. Yes, Wingard’s first two choices were both David Bowie and Prince and he had chosen both of them prior to their passing.
As Wingard puts it in a recent interview with io9:
“Well, as a matter of fact, David Bowie was actually originally who I wanted to [be the voice of] 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.”
Considering one of the primary ideas behind ‘Death Note’ is that whenever a person’s name i s written in it they die you have to wonder where Wingard was writing his casting choices down.
Why did he want a rock star for the role? That’s pretty easy as:
“There’s not a ton of precedent in American live-action films [for] a demon wearing glam rock clothing and leather pants and stuff.”
Clearly, picking someone who would do that everyday normally and not to mention while performing seemed like the perfect choice. With Bowie already having acted roles like this from the Goblin King to Philip Jeffries he really would have been the perfect fit. Prince might not have had as eccentric of acting spots but the man himself might have been all for it.
Sadly, they didn’t happen but at least Defoe’s performance was one of the highlights of the film. Even if he didn’t have enough screen time to really make it worth our while.
Are you sad that Adam Wingard’s first two choices for Ryuk passed away before ‘Death Note’ could be created? Is Willem Defoe the perfect actor for this role? What are the chances that Wingard got rid of whatever he was writing down potential actors names in or will he tragically use it again? Share your thoughts below!