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David Bowie's son decries new Bowie biopic, asks Neil Gaiman to write one instead

Photo: Central Press (Getty Images)

Yesterday, it was announced that actor and musician Johnny Flynn would be playing a Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie in Stardust, a new biopic about the late artist that would reportedly feature the singer’s music. Later that day, Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, not only decried the film, but disputed some of the reported details about the project, namely that the filmmakers had rights to Bowie’s music.

“Pretty certain nobody has been granted music rights for ANY biopic,” he wrote on Twitter. “I would know.” In a follow-up tweet, Jones clarified that the film, which comes from producers at Salon Pictures and Piccadilly Pictures, does not have the family’s blessing.

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“I’m saying that as it stands, this movie won’t have any of dads music in it, & I can’t imagine that changing,” he wrote. “If you want to see a biopic without his music or the families blessing, thats up to the audience.”

Jones, a filmmaker himself, waved off comments that he should helm his own biopic about his father. “Genuinely, I’m not the right person to make it, he wrote. “My perspective is far too uniquely subjective and personal.” He does, however, know exactly who he’d like to see head up the project: One, Neil Gaiman, is a zeitgeist-defining sci-fi writer, while the other, Peter Ramsey, made one of 2018's best movies in Into The Spider-Verse. For Jones, an animated film encompassing the breadth of Bowie’s alter-egos is the way to go.

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In a tweet to the pair, Jones said he would “urge everyone on my end to pay attention and give the pitch serious consideration” if they were involved. In a later tweet, he said he would “stay completely out of the way, cheerleading with all my heart.”

Ramsey expressed interest. “I second that emotion, and I’m a huge Bowie fan.” Gaiman responded as well, offering a vague, “You are the best. Thank you.” He did, however, acknowledge how enticing the project was in response to a fan.

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While this isn’t good news for the Stardust team, it does breathe into the air what sounds like a genuinely compelling Bowie film project. No mere biopic could capture what made Bowie special. A rule-breaking animated feature in the vein of Spider-Verse, on the other hand? That sounds cool as hell.

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.