David Bowie‘s son Duncan Jones has led the tributes The Man Who Fell To Earth director Nicolas Roeg, after the visionary filmmaker’s death was announced.
Roeg directed Bowie in his first major onscreen performance, 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, which found the ‘Starman’ hitmaker making the leap from singing about visitors from outer space to portraying one in the much-acclaimed feature film.
Nicolas Roeg died on Saturday, 24 November at the age of 90, and Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones – a filmmaker himself – shared a fond remembrance of the acclaimed director shortly after receiving news of his passing.
“Just heard another great storyteller, the inimitable Nicolas Roeg left us today,” Jones wrote on Twitter “What an incredible body of work he’s left us with! All my love to his family. Thank you for making so many brave choices, and giving this strange little lad in pyjamas an ongoing love of filmmaking.”
Paying tribute to his father last night, Nicolas Roeg Jr wrote: “He was a genuine dad. He just had his 90th birthday in August”.
Jones was a young boy when production commenced for The Man Who Fell To Earth in 1975, and he posted a photo of him with his father — seen here sporting the hairstyle he wore in the film, a still of which was later used for his Low album cover — and Roeg on set.
Just heard another great storyteller, the inimitable Nicolas Roeg left us today. What an incredible body of work he’s left us with!
All my love to his family.
Thank you for making so many brave choices, & giving this strange little lad in pajamas an ongoing love of filmmaking. pic.twitter.com/QVg2znq3Rs
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) November 24, 2018
Also renowned for directing the classic 1973 psychological thriller Don’t Look Now starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, Roeg called the shots for two other rock stars – Mick Jagger in Performance (1970) and Art Garfunkel in Bad Timing/A Sensual Obsession (1980).
Born Nicolas Jack Roeg in London on 15 August 1928, the director served in the Army, began his movie career by working in the cutting rooms of MGM British Studios and was on cinematographer Freddie Young’s crew for Ivanhoe (1952) and Bhowani Junction (1956).
Roeg later became known for the lighting composition, color imagery, manipulation of time and erotic sensibility in his films and he spent two decades as a camera operator and cinematographer before graduating to director.
He was David Lean’s second-unit director/cameraman on Lawrence Of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago and served as the Director of Photography for Francois Truffaut (on Fahrenheit 451), Richard Lester (A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum) and John Schlesinger for the screen adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd.
He made his feature debut as a cinematographer in 1960 with Jazz Boat, which starred Anthony Newley, and shot such films as The Guest (1963), Dr. Crippen (1963), Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death (1964) and Nothing But The Best (1964), for which he earned acclaim for his use of color.
Fiercely independent, Roeg worked his actors hard and prided himself on not being subservient to anyone. When the head of the U.K.’s Rank Organisation called Bad Timing “a sick film made by sick people for sick people,” the director refused to have his movie shown on the Rank circuit.
For The Man Who Fell To Earth, Roeg gave Bowie his first big shot at the movies, with the rock star starring as the humanoid alien Thomas Jerome Newton, who crash-lands in New Mexico and becomes a businessman hooked on alcohol, sex and television.
Roeg “has chosen the garish, translucent, androgynous-mannered rock star, David Bowie, for his space visitor,” Richard Eder wrote in his New York Times review. “The choice is inspired.”
“David’s performance was something quite unique,” Roeg said in a 2013 interview. “He never came on like a rock star — he used his part to explore ideas of rock idolatry and celebrity. David was very clever and creative in that way.”
A still from the stylish film, with Bowie in orange hair, was used as the cover of Bowie’s 1977 Berlin-era classic , Low.
More recently, Roeg directed the 1989 NBC telefilm Sweet Bird of Youth, starring Elizabeth Taylor; a 1993 episode of ABC’s The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles; and the films Two Deaths (1995) and Puffball: The Devil’s Eyeball (2007).
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