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The star of the motion picture himself, the man who fell to earth, David Bowie makes a brilliant performance as Thomas Jerome Newton. Below are some insights and information about the legendary rock star's first major cinematic role.

[ insight | casting | candy clark | character | career | soundtrack | looking back ]

SPACED OUT IN THE DESERT. . .
Creem [magazine] : Is this your first endeavor in film?
David Bowie: Yes, which makes it very interesting because it's all new to me. I adore it, I really do. And I'm a very good actor, too. [Laughing] No, I really am. Of course, working with Nick is nice because we get on well, we understand one another. There's a marvelous chemistry between us. He's very sensitive to everything that's going on. He's brilliant. He's the only director around right now I'd want to work with. Him and maybe Schlesinger.
...From: Spaced Out In The Desert, Creem Magazine, December 1975

BOWIE WAS PERFECT FOR THE PART. . .
Legendary rock star David Bowie had recently released a hit album, Young Americans, and was now planning to air a special documentary, "Cracked Actor". Just after this aired on television, agent Maggie Abbott planned to get Bowie for the main part in the new Nicolas Roeg film, The Man Who Fell To Earth.


"He exudes such a wonderfully perverse non-human quality…" - Nicolas Roeg


Roeg was an extremely eccentric director. In order to perceive one of his films, you must understand his style...if you read a certain comment at the Internet Movie Database, you will find one individual who did not understand his style, and therefore, the film was an utter 'mess' to him/her. Since his style was just as eccentric as Bowie's in several ways, Nicolas
Roeg felt that Bowie was perfect for the role of Thomas Jerome Newton, and Abbott made plans for Bowie and Roeg to meet. Nicolas Roeg waited for hours at Bowie's home, and Bowie eventually showed up late. They discussed the script, which Bowie disliked very much, but nothing could be done about it, and he eventually signed on…

CO-STAR CANDY CLARK
Bowie soon met co-star Candy Clark [American Graffiti] who was presented by Roeg one evening. Angela Bowie recalls them both being drunk during their short visit, however, Bowie played his usually part.


"I thought David Bowie was perfect for the part of "Thomas Jerome Newton" and WOW, what a stellar performance he gave!" - Candy Clark

Candy Clark also played the role of Bowie's alien wife in the film, but the role was uncredited. Her performance in the film was memorable, but the true team was somewhat between Roeg and Bowie, as Clark was never an honorable mention in the entertainment industry.

THOMAS JEROME NEWTON
David Bowie was cast as the main character, Thomas Jerome Newton. In the film, Mary Lou called him 'Tommy' and his associates referred to him as 'Mr. Newton'. He was from England...but this was only a disguise. The story deals with Newton arriving on earth in order to save his dying planet, Anthea. He plans to return home, but is drawn into the 'real' world on earth through many experiences and difficulties. He presented his inventions to a lawyer, Oliver Farnsworth, and soon took over World Enterprises. He became extremely successful as a businessman, up until the moment when his associates became suspicious of his intelligence and nationality. They investigated, and Newton's business manners fell, so that he could not return to his home planet at all.
Bowie's performance was exhilarating. Each and every moment with him in it expressed the true eccentricity and interesting grasp of the plot. His hair, wardrobe, etc, was just marvelous [in one's opinion], and his overall appearance gave the film an exciting essence.

A NEW CAREER IN A NEW TOWN
David Bowie now had an acting career. It had been a long while since he was cast in any sort of motion picture, for instance, his appearance in 'Virgin Soldiers' [1969]. This was the first time he would be the star of a motion picture. What happens now that David Bowie has an acting career? More and more film offers would soon roll in, however, David once mentioned…


"I get offered so many bad movies."


Who knows how many films he was offered. He only chose those that were best for him...supposedly. TMWFTE was, however, an exceptional case. The film, being directed by Nicolas Roeg, gained him critical praise, as his acting job and appearance in the film were sensational. He suited the character very well, and it was possible that he gave the film a 'good name'.

MUSIC FOR THE FILM
While working in New Mexico for the filming of TMWFTE, Bowie was also working on a new album, Station To Station. The story about the soundtrack for TMWFTE goes as follows...Bowie began working on a soundtrack of which he assumed would consist of nothing but his hard work and music...however, he was informed that he would either be willing to contribute music to the soundtrack listing which included other songs and bands, or, there would be no soundtrack at all. Bowie obviously refused, and there was no deal for a soundtrack. He thought that his effort was far too stupendous for a measly soundtrack...and after all, he would be looking forward to releasing another album, anyhow.
The new album after
Station to Station would be LOW. The album cover had the famous profile from TMWFTE, and the material within was avant-garde. Some songs were instrumental, and some reflected TMWFTE itself.

LOOKING BACK . . .
As David looks back, he probably feels that TMWFTE was his most interesting escapade in the film business - most likely due to the fact that it was his first major adventure in the field.
As many Bowie fans look back on Bowie's career, especially his film career, there is one film that about 75% or more fans admire the most...Labyrinth. Bowie's performance in Labyrinth is a completely different story than his performance in TMWFTE. TMWFTE was much more challenging and mature. Nicolas Roeg was famous for his strange films at the time. It is undoubtedly his greatest film, as was his first, and will forever have an impact on [mostly older] fans today. To read more information about the battle of these two Bowie films, click here.