See Bowie in a Play
“I get offered so many bad movies. And they’re all raging queens or transvestites or Martians.”Bowie
David Bowie‘s career has also been punctuated by various roles in film and theatre productions, earning him some acclaim as an actor in his own right.
In the black-and-white short The Image (1969), he played a ghostly boy who emerges from a troubled artist’s painting to haunt him.
The same year, the film of Leslie Thomas‘s 1966 comic novel The Virgin Soldiers saw Bowie make a brief appearance as an extra.
The beginnings of his acting career predate his commercial breakthrough as a musician. Studying avant-garde theatre and mime under Lindsay Kemp, he was given the role of Cloud in Kemp’s 1967 theatrical production Pierrot in Turquoise (later made into the 1970 television film The Looking Glass Murders).
In 1976 he earned acclaim for his first major film role, portraying Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from a dying planet, in The Man Who Fell to Earth, directed by Nic Roeg.
1978 Just a Gigolo, an Anglo-German co-production directed by David Hemmings, saw Bowie in the lead role as Prussian officer Paul von Przygodski, who, returning from World War I, is discovered by a Baroness (Marlene Dietrich) and put into her Gigolo Stable.
Bowie took the title role in the Broadway theatre production The Elephant Man, earning high praise for an expressive performance. He played the part 157 times between 1980 and 1981.
Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo, a 1981 biographical film focusing on a young girl’s drug addiction in West Berlin, featured Bowie in a cameo appearance as himself at a concert in Germany.
Its soundtrack album, Christiane F. (1981), featured much material from his Berlin Trilogy albums.
Bowie starred in The Hunger (1983), a revisionist vampire film, with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon
In Nagisa Oshima’s film the same year (1983), Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, based on Laurens van der Post’s novel The Seed and the Sower, Bowie played Major Jack Celliers, a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp.
Bowie had a cameo in Yellowbeard, a 1983 pirate comedy created by Monty Python members, and a small part as Colin, the hitman in the 1985 film Into the Night.
“The essence of Bowie’s contribution to popular music can be found in his outstanding ability to analyse and select ideas from outside the mainstream—from art, literature, theatre and film—and to bring them inside, so that the currency of pop is constantly being changed.” David Buckley
He declined to play the villain Max Zorin in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985)
Absolute Beginners (1986), a rock musical based on Colin MacInnes’s 1959 novel about London life, featured Bowie’s music and presented him with a minor acting role.
Jim Henson’s dark fantasy Labyrinth (1986) found him with the part of Jareth, the king of the goblins
He played Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese’s 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ. Bowie portrayed a disgruntled restaurant employee opposite Rosanna Arquette in The Linguini Incident (1991), and the mysterious FBI agent Phillip Jeffries in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992).
He took a small but pivotal role as Andy Warhol in Basquiat, artist/director Julian Schnabel’s 1996 biopic of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and co-starred in Giovanni Veronesi’s Spaghetti Western Il Mio West (1998, released as Gunslinger’s Revenge in the US in 2005) as the most feared gunfighter in the region.
He played the ageing gangster Bernie in Andrew Goth’s Everybody Loves Sunshine (1999)
2000 Mr. Rice’s Secret: Bowie portrayed physicist Nikola Tesla in the Christopher Nolan film
2001 Zoolander (Himself – cameo) / 2006 The Prestige / 2007 Arthur and the Invisibles (Emperor Maltazard voice: English version) / 2008 August Cyrus – cameo / 2008 SpongeBob Square Pants (L.R.H guest voice) / 2009 Bandslam (Himself cameo)
“Fame” from “Young Americans” (1975) – David Bowie, Carlos Alomar & John Lennon
Fame, (fame) makes a man take things over
Fame, (fame) lets him loose, hard to swallow
Fame, (fame) puts you there where things are hollow
Fame, it’s not your brain, it’s just the flame
That burns your change to keep you insane (sane).
“I think fame itself is not a rewarding thing. The most you can say is that it gets you a seat in restaurants.” Bowie
Heroes from “Heroes” (1977) – David Bowie, Brian Eno
Though nothing, nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, forever and ever
Oh, we can be heroes just for one day.
Ialways had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, “Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.” Bowie
The Prettiest Star – from Aladdin Sane (1973)
Staying back in your memory
Are the movies in the dark
How you moved is all it takes
To sing a song of when I loved
The Prettiest Star
Velvet Goldmine – From The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
Velvet Goldmine, you stroke me like the rain
Snake it, take it, Panther Princess, you must stay
Velvet Goldmine, naked on your chain
I’ll be your King Volcano right for you again and again
Velvet Goldmine, The Film
Velvet Goldmine is a 1998 British/American drama film directed and co-written by Todd Haynes. The film is set in Britain during the days of glam rock in the early 1970s; it tells the story of a pop star based mainly on David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character.
For once, there was an unknown land, full of strange flowers and subtle perfumes; a land of which it is joy of all joys to dream; a land where all things are perfect and poisonous
That man sitting over there in the white suit… is the biggest thing to come out of this country sinced sliced Beatles.
Now, just because someone sees, you know, two naked people asleep in bed together, it doesn’t necessarily prove sex was involved. It does, however, make for a very strong case.
Although the character of Brian Slade is heavily based on David Bowie, Bowie himself disliked the script and vetoed the proposal that his songs appear in the film.