David Bowie’s 10 Best Movies and TV Shows, Ranked by IMDb

by Baz Luhrmann Elvis hits theaters later on June 24, 2022, but the king of rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t the only musician to make the switch from music to theater. David Bowie was arguably one of the greatest musicians of all time, but he also had many roles as an actor, appearing in a variety of film and television roles during his lifetime.

Bowie once said, “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I know it won’t be boring” and although he’s appeared in projects of varying success, that statement is quite true. true for his chosen roles. Some are great, some less so, but far from all of Bowie’s performances are boring.


ten The Hunger (1983) – 6.6

David Bowie in The Hunger 1983

Not to be confused with TV show Hunger, which also starred David Bowie in its second season, the 1983 film starred David Bowie as a vampire caught in a love triangle. Hunger was Tony Scott’s first film and one of the first films to feature Willem Dafoe.

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The film received mixed reviews upon release, but has continued to build a huge cult following, with talk of a remake in the works. The film allowed Bowie to use his quirky style in this weird and sexual supernatural horror, which became a huge inspiration to many in the goth subculture.

9 The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) – 6.6

David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth 1976

1976 The man who fell to earth starred David Bowie as Thomas Newton, an alien stranded on Earth on a mission to return to his home planet. It’s one of Bowie’s most famous roles and the film is very cult. A television series of The man who fell to earth came out recently with a cast full of familiar faces.

The film received mixed reviews upon its initial release, with Paramount refusing to pay for it after its first screening. But Nicolas Roeg’s film became a science fiction classic that still influences the genre today. Michael Fassbender cited Bowie’s performance as his inspiration in 2012 Prometheus, showing the impact the film still has on the genre decades later.

8 Basquiat (1996) – 6.9

Andy Warhol in a restaurant in Basquiat.

David Bowie’s album, Hunky-dory, featured a song called “Andy Warhol,” but it wasn’t until 25 years later that he would play the pop artist in Basquiat. The film is a biopic about the life of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, an artist from Brooklyn, with Warhol as his mentor.

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Bowie used his real-life friendship with Warhol to good effect, showing the artist’s humor and personality instead of portraying him as pretentious, like most other portrayals of the artist. Bowie was able to borrow Warhol’s real wig, glasses and jacket for the role, making it look like the most accurate depiction of Warhol to date.

seven Twin Peaks: Fire Walks With Me (1992) – 7.2

twin peaks fire walk with me david bowie

Bowie played Special Agent Phillip Jefferies in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. The film serves as a prequel to the television series and shows the last days of Laura Palmer’s life, before her murder at the start of the series. In the film, Jefferies recently returned after two years after his sudden disappearance after entering an elevator.

Bowie was to return to twin peaks in the 2017 revival series before his death. However, her performance in the film still has a big presence on the show, with her character being portrayed as a glowing white orb. Prior to his death, Bowie gave director David Lynch permission to use his likeness in any continuation of the franchise.

6 Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) – 7.2

David Bowie in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence 1983

In Merry Christmas, Mr Laurent, Bowie plays Major Jack Celliers, a soldier trapped in a Japanese POW camp, alongside Tom Conti as Mr. Lawrence. The themes of the film all run through Bowie, who focuses on survival but experiences loneliness and forbidden homosexual feelings. The film is known for its Bafta-winning soundtrack.

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Unlike some of his larger-than-life characters, Bowie plays the role with subtlety and tenderness, with Bowie himself considering his performance one of his career bests. The film is acclaimed by fellow directors, Akira Kurosawa and Christopher Nolan both calling it one of their favorite films.

5 Labyrinth (1986) – 7.3

An image from the Jim Henson film Labyrinth.

Perhaps Bowie’s most famous acting role was that of Jareth The Goblin King in Jim Henson Labyrinth. Other musicians, such as Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger, were considered for the role, but it’s now hard to imagine anyone other than Bowie playing Jareth.

Whereas Labyrinth is full of great characters, solid performances and stunning use of puppetry, this is Bowie’s movie. His contributions to the soundtrack and his massive presence in every scene he’s in makes the film feel like an extra-long David Bowie clip. The film has become a huge cult following, with a sequel in the works.

4 The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) – 7.5

David Bowie in The Last Temptation of Christ 1988

Bowie adds to his varied filmography in Martin Scorsese’s polarizing 1988 film which depicts the life of Jesus Christ. Bowie plays Pontius Pilate, a high-ranking Roman who gave the order for Jesus’ crucifixion. Bowie only appears in the film for three minutes and 30 seconds, a small appearance that has a large effect on the story.

Bowie makes a rare appearance as the antagonist in this controversial film. Scorsese had all the Romans played by British actors, opposite a Jew with an American accent, a technique he borrowed for Ben Hur. With this, Bowie gives a calm performance that translates into an intimidating, authoritative and eloquent presence. His performance makes the execution of Jesus sound like a practical action for him, making the death that much more cruel and brutal.

3 Christiane F. (1981) – 7.5

Bowie appeared as himself in the German film Christiane F, the history of drug addiction in Berlin. Bowie lived in Berlin for three years, producing three albums there. His time in Berlin is now legendary and his work still has a huge influence on the city. The job is embodied in this film, with the opening scene taking place at a Bowie concert, where the first Christiane tries the heroine for the first time.

Despite living there for so long, Bowie’s concert scenes were filmed during one of his performances in New York, with crowd shots from an AC/DC show . Bowie contributes to the soundtrack of this tragic film which recalls Bowie’s huge presence in Berlin at the time.

2 Supplements (2005 – 2007) – 8.3

David Bowie as himself in Extras

Each episode of Supplements featured at least one famous face appearing as a fictionalized version of themselves. In the show’s second series, David Bowie meets aspiring actor Andy Millman at a club, before performing an impromptu song at Millman’s expense.

1 The Prestige (2006) – 8.5

David Bowie in The Prestige 2006

At Christopher Nolan’s Prestige, Bowie plays the famous scientist Nikola Tesla. The film depicts the rivalry between two magicians, both of whom are obsessed with performing increasingly incredible tricks.

Bowie was the only person Nolan wanted for the role and admits he begged him to appear, saying: “Tesla was this figure from another world, ahead of his time, and at one point he occurred to me that he was the original man who fell to Earth.”

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