New David Bowie biopic stirs controversy among Bowie’s family

By Peter Zemeske

The story of rock legend David Bowie’s first trip to America will be told in an upcoming biopic titled “Stardust,” after Bowie’s fictional persona created for the 1972 album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”

The film will capture Bowie’s first trip to the U.S. in 1971, a trip that allegedly inspired the creation of the Ziggy Stardust character. Gabriel Range will direct the film with scriptwriting from Christopher Bell. Actor and musician Johnny Flynn will play the late music icon alongside Jena Malone, who will play Bowie’s then wife Angie. Marc Maron is also set to be in the film and will play Bowie’s publicist, according to a Jan. 31 Variety article.

While the production team and most of the cast is unknown, Malone is best known for her role as Johanna Mason in The Hunger Games franchise. The film won’t be a typical musical biopic such as the box office smash “Bohemian Rhapsody” or the upcoming Elton John focused “Rocketman.” “Stardust” won’t chronicle Bowie’s entire music career and will instead hone in on a specific point in time which helped propel him to stardom. The film will most likely not obtain rights to any of Bowie’s music as it does not have the family’s blessing, according to Bowie’s son, director Duncan Jones.

“As it stands, this movie won’t have any of dad’s music in it, and 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,” Jones said in a Jan. 31 tweet. The tweet has since been edited for clarity.

When asked if he would be interested in a more creative approach, Jones said in a Jan. 31 tweet he would like if author Neil Gaiman and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” director Peter Ramsey created an animated film using Bowie’s characters. Jones admitted he isn’t the right person to make the film, as he has a personal perspective to Bowie.

Filming is set to commence in June with a 2020 release date.