8 David Bowie films that made him a movie icon too

A freaky hero on screen as well as on stage.

The world woke up to the sad news today that David Bowie has died after an 18-month battle against cancer. But while the Thin White Duke will mainly be remembered for his 50 years' worth of freaky, fantastical hits, he also leaves behind a trail of suitably quirky, memorable film roles.

From goblin kings to oddball FBI agents, here are eight of his most weird and wonderful film appearances - proving he was a screen icon as well as a music superstar...


Just in case Bowie, fresh from releasing the cocaine-fuelled, otherworldly Station to Station, didn't seem alien enough in 1976, his movie debut was the story of an ET who gets hooked on sex, drink and daytime TV. See? Even visitors from distant planets aren't impervious to the car-crush pull of Jeremy Kyle.

2. THE HUNGER (1983)

Vampire Bowie! Dame Dave plays John Blaylock, a member of the undead who spends this 1983 cult gem's run-time shagging his way around New York and fretting about getting old. Susan Sarandon stars his poor therapist, while a dark synth score keeps the tension cranked high.


Bowie's bash at a festive film: think Elf or A Muppet Christmas Carol. Except neither of those films are set in a Japanese prisioner-of-war site in the violent midst of World War 2, and focus on a homoerotic relationship between Bowie's POW and the camp's commanding officer. Probably not one to stick on after Christmas dinner when your nan's around.

4. LABYRINTH (1986)

Bowie's most famous film role? Possibly: his portrayal of Jareth The Goblin Kingpacked menace, magic, ball-twirling and one of cinema history's most bombastic hair-dos into a dark, surreal kids' fantasy.
Dancing around the screen and occasionally turning into an owl, it gave an entire generation of children nightmares. Some of us still sleep with the lights on.


This Martin Scorsese epic initially had Sting earmarked for the role of Pontius Pilate, but it wasBowie who stepped into the part when the project finally got off the ground in the late '80s. As Rome's ruler, Bowie turns up briefly to tell Jesus (Willem Defoe) he is to be put to death for ruffling a few to many feathers. The film, understandably, ruffled a few feathers itself. Bowie drawn to controversy? Well, we never...


From one twisted innovator called David to another...  it's in retrospect a wonder Lynch and Bowie didn't team up more, given their twin tastes for all things surreal and mind-bending. They did manage one collaboration, however with Bowie turning up in Lynch's divisive Twin Peaks movie as the babbling Phillip Jeffries.

7. ZOOLANDER (2001)

You might not know Bowie as a comic genius, but between his mocking appearance in Ricky Gervais' Extras and this brief, hilarious spot in Ben Stiller's sartorial satire, Dave was a deadpan master. The judge in a catwalk-off between Derek and Hansel, it's a cameo for the ages, and a neat tribute to the Aladdin Sane  man's hefty influence on fashion over the years.

8. THE PRESTIGE (2006)

Dave's last film appearance - barring a cameo in Spongebob SquarePants a year later - Bowie's turn as Nikola Tesla in this Christopher Nolan drama about warring magicians was a strong swan song. No-one else could make electrifying a cat in the name of wizardry look so cool, could they? No, they couldn't.

Photo: Ingrid Richter (CC BY 2.0)