Nikola Tesla was an enigmatic genius, responsible for some of the most important inventions of the modern world. He was, amongst other things, a scientist, a futurist, and a physicist.
When Christopher Nolan required someone to play Tesla in The Prestige (2006), he only ever had one man in mind. That man? The late, great and equally as electrifyingly charismatic David Bowie.
Nolan Felt Tesla Was An "Other-worldly" Figure
In remembrance of the sad death of the 69-year-old superstar on January 10th, Nolan wrote a moving synopsis of the time the two spent together on set. Writing for EW, the gifted visionary reminisced:
Tesla was this other-worldly, ahead-of-his-time figure, and at some point it occurred to me he was the original Man Who Fell to Earth. As someone who was the biggest Bowie fan in the world, once I made that connection, he seemed to be the only actor capable of playing the part.
Unfortunately for Nolan, Bowie declined the role. But in a deviation from his usual protocol, the director went back for a second attempt. This time he flew to New York to speak to Bowie, practically "begging" him to be in the film as Nolan could see no one else playing the role.
Bowie Had Huge Amounts Of Charisma
The gesture was a success; the innovative popstar-turned-actor said yes immediately. Nolan described having him on set as "wonderful." He said:
He had a level of charisma beyond what you normally experience, and everyone really responded to it. I’ve never seen a crew respond to any movie star that way, no matter how big.
Considering Nolan has directed huge names such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, and Morgan Freeman, that's some statement.
As Bowie's self proclaimed "biggest fan in the world," Nolan noted the impact the star had on those working on set. The Interstellar director clearly relished spending time with Ziggy Stardust himself, referring to the moments as "treasured memories."
"That Was Quite Magical"
They say you should never meet your heroes, presumably due to the fact that they are human too, and come full of imperfect idiosyncrasies, as we all do. However, Nolan eloquently refuted this in a touching tribute to Bowie. He said:
"I loved the fact that after having worked with him, I had just the same fascination with his talent and his charisma. I thought that was quite magical."
Nolan certainly wasn't the only person in the film industry with fond memories of David Bowie.
Martin Scorsese said his work with Bowie on The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) was "sheer joy," while Labyrinth (1986) co-star Jennifer Connelly, who was 15 at the time of filming, called him a "genius who had the time to be kind."
Feast your eyes on some delightful clips of Bowie in full flow in the clips below:
1. 'Labyrinth' (1986)
2. 'Basquiat' (1996)
3. 'The Man Who Fell To Earth' (1976)
4. 'The Last Temptation of Christ' (1988)