While the majority will rightly remember David Bowie as one of the most creative, enigmatic and, most importantly, brilliant musicians of his generation, his film roles have in some cases had just as pronounced an impact. Here, we look at his 5 best genre movie performances…
1) The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)
Playing an alien who travels to our world in order to resolve the water shortage on his own planet, only to become distracted by Earth’s many pleasures, Bowie’s androgynous extra-terrestrial was one of his first film roles, and in many people’s opinion his best. Combining Bowie’s mystique with the avant-garde stylings of director Nic Rog, this is an absolute must-see, if you haven’t already.
2) Labyrinth (1986)
“Slap that baby/make him free!” Where do we start with this one? His performance as Jareth the Goblin King, in which he simultaneously manages to be mischievous, charismatic, dangerous and utterly sinister all at once, is something that will always live on in the memory. We’re humming the lyrics to ‘Dance Magic Dance’ right now…
3) Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
It takes a lot to weird out the normally unflappable Dale Cooper, but Bowie manages this feat in his brief cameo as missing Agent Philip Jeffries, who reappears to warn Cooper before abruptly disappearing again. As ever with Twin Peaks, nothing about his character or why he was there is ever explained again, but the scene serves to further ensure his iconic status, especially among Twin Peaks fans.
4) The Prestige (2006)
Bowie plays this one far straighter than the majority of his other roles in Christopher Nolan’s tale of two warring magicians in his role as Nikola Tesla, who Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) goes to visit in order to further his magical ambitions. It’s a small role, but a pivotal one nonetheless, with this Tesla presented as a man who is haunted by the potential of his creation.
5) The Hunger (1983)
Having played a goblin, an alien and a genius scientist, Bowie adds another string to his bow as a vampire, starring alongside Catherine Deneuve as an undead cellist, whose promised fantasy of eternal life simply proves to be eternal death. It’s one of his most tragic roles, and greatly contributes to the standing of Tony Scott’s debut as one of the great modern vampire movies.