Johnny Flynn, a musician and actor best known for the series Vanity Fair and Genius, is set to portray David Bowie in the upcoming feature titled Stardust.
Jena Malone will portray Bowie’s first wife, Angie, and Marc Maron will also be featured as his publicist. The film will follow the rise of the superstar, starting with his first visit to America in 1971 — a trip that is said to have inspired the invention of his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. However, Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, has issues with the film.
Duncan Jones has said “producers of a proposed biopic about the musician have not secured the rights to use his father’s music or the approval of his family,” reported the Guardian.
Jones wrote on Twitter: “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 [family’s] blessing, that’s up to the audience.”
Nonetheless, the film is set to shoot in mid 2019. Slash Films reported that Christopher Bell, writer of the upcoming series The Last Czars, is writing the script, and Gabriel Rang, the filmmaker behind Death of a President and I Am Slave, is directing.
A statement from Stardust’s producers, UK outfit Salon Pictures said: “We would like to clarify that this film … is a moment in time film at a turning point in David’s life, and is not reliant on Bowie’s music.”
“Much like Nowhere Boy for Lennon, Control for Joy Division, the production uses period music and songs that Bowie covered, but not his original tracks.”
Bowie first went to America to promote his third album, The Man Who Sold the World. There, he embarked on a publicity tour across the United States. During this tour, music writers say Bowie came up with the idea of his Ziggy Stardust character, inspired in part by American artists like Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.
“In other words, Stardust sounds like it’s going to be an origin story, revealing how Bowie eventually adopted one of his many personas,” wrote Slash Film.
However, Jones, who has a different vision in mind, is suggesting Neil Gaiman as the man to take control of a Bowie film, which comes as news to Gaiman reportedly.
Jones has directed a Netflix film but says he is not seeking to take control personally. “I’m not the right person to make it. My perspective is far too uniquely subjective and personal,” he said in an interview.
Duncan Jones was born in 1971, the only child of Bowie and his wife Angela. After the divorce, David Bowie was granted custody and his son was enrolled in boarding schools.
As Slash Film put it, “As Jones tells it, the movie doesn’t have any rights to Bowie songs, which means it’ll be a David Bowie movie without David Bowie music. And honestly, does anyone want to see that?”
Meanwhile, the success of the Freddy Mercury film has got other movie projects churning.
“Bowie isn’t the only superstar getting a biopic,” reported Billboard. “It was recently announced that a $23 million music-filled film about Canadian singer Celine Dion is in the works from French studio Gaumont.”
Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. Her new book, The Blue, is a spy story set in the 18th-century porcelain world. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com