Johnny Flynn reveals how he approached writing a song as David Bowie for 'Stardust' (exclusive)

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·2-min read
Johnny Flynn in Stardust (Credit: Paul van Carter)
Johnny Flynn in Stardust (Credit: Paul van Carter)

Johnny Flynn said it was a “huge privilege” to play David Bowie in Stardust and has revealed his unique approach to writing an original song for the movie.

The British star plays Bowie in the new film from director Gabriel Range, which tells the story of Bowie on his first tour of the USA in 1971.

Read more: Clip of Johnny Flynn as David Bowie in Stardust

Flynn told Yahoo Movies UK that fans should not expect a blockbuster biopic in the vein of Bohemian Rhapsody or Rocketman.

He said: “It's quite a small film. It's really not in the same sort of genre or emotional feel as those big biopic films.

“It's very much a tiny origin story for him. So I really hope people receive it in the way it's meant to be received. It was a huge privilege to have a go at.”

Watch: Johnny Flynn discusses Bowie role in Stardust

Flynn said this is a film about Bowie “before he got his mojo going”, leading up to the inspiration for his iconic Ziggy Stardust persona.

The 37-year-old said this took some of the pressure off the idea of him writing a song as Bowie to be performed in the film, which did not have rights to the late music icon’s tracks.

Read more: Flynn says Stardust is not a “big rock biopic”

“The idea of that song is that at this moment in time, Bowie was playing a lot of covers and he was certainly really influenced by the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed,” said Flynn.

He said Bowie was shying away from playing the music from his album The Man Who Sold the World, in favour of Velvet Underground and Jacques Brel covers.

David Bowie jams at a party at lawyer Paul Figen's house in January 1971. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
David Bowie jams at a party at lawyer Paul Figen's house in January 1971. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Flynn added: “So I thought it would be fun and a nice part of my research to write a song as if I'm David trying to rip off Lou Reed.

“Thankfully, I didn't tell myself that it had to be as good as a prime David Bowie song. It was kind of part of the plot at that point that he's playing songs that sound a bit like rip-offs.”

Read more: Flynn discusses isolation relevance of Cordelia

Flynn is currently promoting his new thriller Cordelia, in which he plays the charming neighbour of Antonia Campbell-Hughes’s protagonist.

The movie, directed by Adrian Shergold, is set to open in UK cinemas from 23 October.

Watch: Trailer for Johnny Flynn thriller Cordelia