Songs of Darkness and Dismay: Bowie Biopic Rumors Swirl

(Image by Mainman/Bewlay Bros/Miramax)

Late last week, it was announced that Johnny Flynn would be taking on the role of David Bowie in a a new biopic entitled Stardust. However, Bowie’s son, filmmaker Duncan Jones said on Twitter that he knew nothing about the film being made and that Bowie’s music would not be used in the film.

“I’m not saying this movie is not happening. I honestly wouldn’t know. I’m saying that as it stands, this movie won’t have any of dad’s music in it, & I can’t imagine that changing. If you want to see a biopic without his music or the families’ blessing, that’s up to the audience.”

The film’s producers clarified the intent of their project further in a press release to Entertainment Weekly:

“This film is not a biopic, it is a moment in time film at a turning point in David’s life, and is not reliant on Bowie’s music…The film was written as an ‘origins story’ about the beginning of David’s journey as he invented his Ziggy Stardust character, and focuses on the character study of the artist, as opposed to a hits driven ‘music’ biopic.”

Muddying the waters even further, Duncan Jones started a Twitter conversation with best selling sci-fi and fantasy writer Neil Gaiman and Into the Spider-Verse director Peter Ramsey.

“If [Neil Gaiman] wanted to write something using dad’s characters, and [Peter Ramsey] and his team wanted to make it as an animated film, I would urge everyone on my end to pay attention and give the pitch serious consideration.”

Jones also indicated that he wouldn’t direct anything related to his late father due to his perspective being ultimately too personal.

The last time anyone took a stab at directing a Bowie biopic was 1998’s Velvet Goldmine. Director Todd Haynes and musician Michael Stipe both rallied hard for music rights but were ultimately denied when Bowie himself claimed to be making his own Ziggy Stardust film, which never came to fruition. While Velvet Goldmine still captures the glam rock era with a mish-mash of nods to Bowie, Iggy Pop, Roxy Music, T. Rex, Oscar Wilde, and the like, it would be amazing to finally have a proper Bowie biopic outside of the documentary Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars: The Motion Picture. Paired with the critical and box office success of Into the Spider-Verse, an animated film might be an innovative way to honor the iconic work of the Thin White Duke.

Written by Rachel Stewart

Rachel Stewart is a staff writer at 25YL. She has written fandom commentary and critique for sites like The Sartorial Geek,, Nerdy Minds Magazine, and ESO Network, among others. Her work has also appeared in print in the kOZMIC Press anthology “Children of Time: The Companions of Doctor Who" and the ATB Publishing anthology "OUTSIDE IN TRUSTS NO ONE."

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