"They never seem to get them right"
One of David Bowie‘s lifelong friends has dismissed the idea of a movie based on the icon’s life.
Last month, it was announced biopic Stardust was in the works – with Johnny Flynn set to play the late singer during first trip to America in 1971. Bowie’s son, the director Duncan Jones, then spoke out to say that the movie was happening “without his music or the family’s blessing“.
George Underwood – a friend of Bowie since the age of nine, former collaborator and the man responsible for giving Bowie his permanently dilated pupil – spoke to NME along with others who knew him well about the icon’s early life.
Asked about the idea of a biopic, Underwood told NME: “I’m dreading that. They never seem to get those right. Although I did like the Freddie Mercury one [Bohemian Rhapsody], but they’re never accurate. All of the books about David are copies of things that just aren’t quite right then it gets worse and worse.”
He continued: “I was once asked to be interviewed for the book Bowie by Jerry Hopkins. He said, ‘I wanna know about the eye’, but I don’t want to be a one-trick pony. Then I looked in the book and it said, ‘Rumour has it that the fight was actually about a boy’. It’s completely untrue, then someone copies it and it becomes like Chinese whispers. There will be 25 different people saying 25 different things.”
This weekend saw the TV debut of David Bowie: Finding Fame – the final in a trilogy of documentaries [after 2013’s Five Years and The Last Five Years in 2017] by director Francis Whately, telling the story of Bowie’s origins before he found mainstream success.
“I have no doubt that biopics will be made, and that they’ll emphasise the wrong aspects of his career,” Whately told NME. “What I’m glad to have been able to do is make three 90 minute films on David Bowie as a musician, the artist, not anything else. That’s what’s important. That’s why he loved the first film [Five Years] and was so encouraging from that point onwards.
“I think they will be equally delighted with this film [Finding Fame], as it will shed a lot of light for Iman [wife], Lexi [daughter] and Duncan [son] on the early Bowie that they may not know that much about.”
“Pretty certain nobody has been granted music rights for ANY biopic… I would know,” wrote Duncan Jones on Twitter.
He added: “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 dads 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.”
Joining Flynn in the movie Stardust will be GLOW’s Marc Maron, who will play the rock star’s publicist, and The Hunger Games’ Jena Malone, who will play Bowie’s first wife, Angie. The film will be directed by Emmy winner Gabriel Range (Death Of A President), with Christopher Bell on scriptwriting duties. There is no release date, but principal photography is set to begin in June.
After the recent release of Bowie’s legendary headline set at Glastonbury 2000, a new box set collecting his early recordings will arrive later this year, as ‘Spying Through The Keyhole’ marks 50 years of ‘Space Oddity’.