Stardust depiction of David Bowie ‘not an impersonation’, says director

Stardust depiction of David Bowie ‘not an impersonation’, says director
Gabriel Range directs new film Stardust (Yui Mok/PA)

Director Gabriel Range has said it was important in his new film about David Bowie to not make the portrayal of the late rockstar an “impersonation”.

His new film Stardust tells the story of a young Bowie going on a tour in the US as he tried to launch his musical career.

The film, which sees musician Johnny Flynn, of Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit, play Bowie, opened the 28th Raindance Film Festival in London on Wednesday.

Johnny Flynn stars as David Bowie in the biopic (Ian West/PA)

Range told the PA news agency: “It was really important to me to cast a musician to play David and also when I met Johnny and discovered he was a huge Bowie fan, it just felt really right.

“Johnny could really connect emotionally with that experience of setting out on your career as a musician and playing to those half empty rooms.”

He said he was keen for Flynn not to try to mimic Bowie.

“It was really important that it should not be an impersonation,” he said.

“I think Johnny really inhabited the role.

“It was more about creating a feeling rather than an impression of David.”

He added that “what’s extraordinary about David Bowie is he’s someone different for everyone”.

“For some people he’s the Thin White Duke, for some people he’s Ziggy Stardust, for some people it’s David of the 80s, and our film is obviously set before all of that in 1971.

Director Gabriel Range (Yui Mok/PA)

“And so I think what is fun about this was to explore a chapter that’s a less-known chapter of his life, before that first real flash of fame.”

The film sees Bowie head to the US “for the first time with high hopes with the tour The Man Who Sold The World, but it didn’t really work commercially”.

He had “quite a tough tour”, Range added.

Bowie died of cancer in 2016 in New York aged 69.

Stardust follows a number of biopics about musicians which have been released in recent years including Bohemian Rhapsody, which is about Queen, and Rocketman, which charts Sir Elton John’s rise to stardom.

Range also discussed the challenges of bringing the film out amid the pandemic.

“It is a really interesting time to bring a film out for all the obvious reasons – socially distanced cinemas and so on,” he said.

“But on the other hand, I guess studios are not releasing things so it is a good time for independent films.”

A number of blockbusters including James Bond film No Time To Die and Marvel superhero movie Black Widow have had their release dates pushed back.

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