January 11, 2013
I hate sleep
PLAYBOY: Let’s talk about movies. Why did you decide to do The Man Who Fell to Earth?
BOWIE: Well, I’ll tell you what happened. I was sent the script and was immediately intrigued with the character of Newton, who had a lot in common with me. He dreaded cars but loved fast speeds. He was physically emaciated; there were so many characteristics we had in common. One problem: I hated the script.
PLAYBOY: How did you get around that?
BOWIE: Nicolas Roeg, the director, came over to my house a number of weeks after he’d sent the script. He arrived on time and I was out. After eight hours or so, I remembered our appointment. I turned up nine hours later, thinking, of course, that he’d gone. He was sitting in the kitchen. He’d been sitting there for hours and hours and wouldn’t go upstairs, wouldn’t go into my room. He stayed in the kitchen. God, I was so embarrassed. I thought I would be embarrassed into doing the film. He said, “Well, David, what do you think of the script?” I said, “It’s a bit corny, isn’t it?” His face just fucking fell off. Then he started talking. Two or three hours later, I was convinced the man was a genius. There is a very strong story line, as it turns out, but that only provides the backbone to the meat of it. It works on spiritual and prime levels of an incredibly complex, Howard Hughes-type alien. I still don’t understand all the inflections Roeg put into the film. He’s of a certain artistic level that’s well above me.
PLAYBOY: Why did Roeg want you?
BOWIE: He had Peter O’Toole cast, but he couldn’t do the film. And I believe the editor of the film advised Nick to watch the documentary about me, Cracked Actor, that was on the BBC. Nick watched it and I guess it was my attachment to Ziggy, the alter ego, that captured his interest and imagination. And my looks helped, too. Roeg wanted a definite, pointedly stark face – which I had been endowed with.
PLAYBOY: How long did it take for you to adapt to the cameras?
BOWIE: Less than an hour. My first film, I couldn’t have worked with a director unless it was somebody I knew instinctively would become a mentor. I couldn’t have worked with someone I considered to be less than myself – and I have a very, very high opinion of my own abilities. Within the first hour on the set, I knew that I’d picked the right one. Just wait until I become a director, though. I’ll be tremendous.
PLAYBOY: Do you find acting more worthwhile than rock ‘n’ roll?
BOWIE: Rock ‘n’ roll is acting. All my albums are just me acting out certain poses and characters. That’s why I’m not entirely proud of a lot of my records – the visual side is sorely missed. My finally being on film simply makes it official. I’m sure I’ll take my following with me. They’re very faithful.
David Bowie interviewed by Cameron Crowe in Playboy, 1976 (full text).