First photo released of Johnny Flynn as David Bowie in new movie Stardust

The release has been pushed back due to the global pandemic

Author: Scott ColothanPublished 20th Aug 2019
Last updated 17th Aug 2020

The first photo has been released of Johnny Flynn playing the lead role of David Bowie in new movie Stardust. Taken by photographer Paul Van Carter, the image depicts Flynn as Bowie in circa 1971 sitting in a café and smoking a cigarette while looking into the camera.

The photo was shared by Salon Pictures, the movie company behind Stardust, who captioned it: 'Exclusive first look at Johnny Flynn as the young David Bowie in our forthcoming movie Stardust, directed by Gabriel Range, with Marc Maron and Jena Malone. #stardustmovie #davidbowie'.

What will the David Bowie film Stardust be about?

Producers behind the movie have described Stardust as an “origins story” rather than a biopic and it follows a snapshot in time of Bowie’s career in the early 1970s.

A plot synopsis reads: “Meet David before Bowie. One of the greatest icons in music history; But who was the young man behind the many faces? In 1971, a 24-year-old David Bowie (Johnny Flynn) embarks on his first road trip to America with struggling publicist Ron Oberman (Marc Maron), only to be met with a world not yet ready for him.

“Stardust offers a glimpse behind the curtain of the moments that inspired the creation of Bowie's first and most memorable alter ego Ziggy Stardust, capturing the turning point that cemented his career as one of the world's greatest cultural icons.”

Who is starring in the David Bowie film Stardust?

Johnny Flynn stars as David, and Jena Malone plays his first wife, Angie.

When will the David Bowie biopic be released?

The film was set to premiere at the 2020 Tribeca film festival in April 2020, but the event was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. At the moment, there isn't an official release date, but select members of the press have been allowed to watch it so that reviews can be published.

Who is directing Stardust, the David Bowie film?

The film is helmed by Emmy Award-winning director Gabriel Range, with a script from Christopher Bell, who was behind Netflix historical drama The Last Czars.

What have Davie Bowie's family said about the Stardust film?

When the project was announced in January, David Bowie’s son, film director Duncan Jones, criticised Stardust saying it was being made without the family’s involvement.

"Pretty certain nobody has been granted music rights for ANY biopic... I would know," Jones wrote on Twitter

"I’m not saying this movie is not happening. I honestly wouldn't know. I'm saying that as it stands, this movie won't have any of Dad's music in it and I can't imagine that changing. If you want to see a biopic without his music or the families blessing, that's up to the audience."

This prompted Salon Pictures to release the following statement: “We would like to clarify that this film is not a biopic. It is a moment in time film at a turning point in David’s life, and is not reliant on Bowie’s music.

“Much like Nowhere Boy for Lennon, Control for Joy Division, the production uses period music and songs that Bowie covered, but not his original tracks.

“The film was written as an ‘origins story’ about the beginning of David’s journey as he invented his Ziggy Stardust character, and focuses on the character study of the artist, as opposed to a hits driven ‘music’ biopic.”

Scroll through to see 12 essential David Bowie albums:

'The Man Who Sold The World', 1970

Nirvana brought 'The Man Who Sold The World' album title track to a wider audience when they famously covered it for their MTV Unplugged performance in 1993, however there are many more musical gems to be found within Bowie's third studio record.

Previous self-titled album 'David Bowie' from 1969 contains many great tracks including Bowie's breakthrough smash 'Space Oddity' and the sprawling dystopian nightmare of 'Cygnet Committee', yet 'The Man Who Sold The World' is undoubtedly Bowie's first complete record and arguably the heaviest of his entire career.

From the moment the bassline kicks in on eight-minute opener 'The Width of a Circle' through to closing refrain of "so softly a supergod dies!" on closer 'The Superman', 'The Man Who Sold The World' never wanes in magnificence. Rich in musical depth throughout, 'She Shook Me Cold' is a stone cold hard rock classic, 'Black Country Rock' sees Bowie delve into almost Tyrannosaurus Rex territory, and 'All The Madmen' affectingly deals with the theme of insanity and was inspired by Terry Burns, Bowie's half-brother who was a schizophrenic inmate at Cane Hill Hospital. A truly outstanding record.

'Hunky Dory', 1971

Despite scoring a hit with 'Space Oddity' is 1969, it seemed as if David Bowie was destined to remain a one-hit wonder. His first three albums – 'David Bowie' (1967), 'David Bowie' (aka 'Space Oddity') (1969) and 'The Man Who Sold The World' – found Bowie flirting with a variety of styles including hippy folk and hard rock, but none really seemed to gel.

Hunky Dory is where it all comes to together. Joined by future Spiders From Mars Mick Ronson (guitar), Trevor Boulder (bass) and Woody Woodmansey (drums) – as well as cape-wearing prog rock keyboard wiz Rick Wakeman – this is the album where Bowie the songwriter emerges to craft an album packed with classics.

'Changes', 'Oh! You Pretty Things' and 'Life On Mars are all present and correct, and the immediate future in glimpsed on The Velvet Undergound-inspired 'Queen Bitch'.

'The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars', 1972

David Bowie's fifth album was his breakthough record. A concept album of sorts, it concerns itself with the androgynous and bisexual alien Ziggy Stardust who arrives on earth to become a rock star just as the earth is facing the apocalypse.

Influenced by the rising glam rock movement, Bowie and Ziggy came to define the era. Bowie lost himself in the character of the flame-haired Ziggy Stardust, who he later "killed" onstage at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1973. Containing the songs 'Ziggy Stardust', 'Suffragette City' and the hit 'Starman', this is the glam-era album you need.

'Aladdin Sane', 1973

Released just ten months after David Bowie's seminal masterpiece 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars', 'Aladdin Sane' very much kept up the ante is yet another magnum opus from the rock n' roll chameleon.

Largely written on the road in-between shows on the US leg of Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust Tour' in 1972, the overt American influence permeates through almost every track on 'Aladdin Sane' – especially on the swooning musical tour-de-force 'Drive-In Saturday' and the more urgent 'Panic In Detroit', which details Bowie's friend and musical collaborator Iggy Pop's experiences during the 1967 Detroit riots.

Breath-taking in scope and without a single dud song – even the cover of The Rolling Stones' 'Let's Spend The Night Together' is sublime - 'Aladdin Sane' is rightfully regarded as one of Bowie's finest works and one of the greatest albums of the 1970s.

'Station To Station', 1976

Having moved to the US to tour 'Diamond Dogs' (1974) and record the plastic soul of 'Young Americans' (1975), the skeletal figure of David Bowie was holed up in Los Angeles and existing on a miniscule diet and an unhealthy obsession with the occult. Indeed, so blitzed was Bowie during this period that he later claimed to have no memory recording 'Station To Station'.

A stepping stone between his soul influences and the lure of European music, this six-track album contains some of David Bowie's most enduring and dynamic music; the epic title track that introduces us to his latest creation, The Thin White Duke, the funky 'Golden Years' and his dramatic cover of Johnny Mathis' 'Wild Is The Wind'.

'Low', 1977

The first album of David Bowie's so-called 'Berlin Trilogy' was actually recorded mainly at the Chateau d'Hérouville studios in France, though the celebrated Hansa studios in Berlin were also used.

Having moved to Berlin with Iggy Pop and recorded 'The Idiot' – arguably a dry run for 'Low' – with the erstwhile Stooges frontman, here Bowie teams up with ambient pioneer Brian Eno and producer Tony Visconti to create one of most intriguing albums his career.

Influenced by German bands such as Neu!, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, Side 1 is made up of largely short, experimental pop numbers including the hit 'Sound And Vision', while Side 2 features longer and more experimental instrumental music.

'Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)', 1980

David Bowie's first album of the new decade was the perfect synthesis of his instinctive pop smarts and more esoteric, experimental urges. So while The Berlin Trilogy saw Bowie pushing musical boundaries, he hadn't matched the commercial success of his earlier work. That would end here.

Featuring astonishing contributions from King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp and Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band's piano player Roy Bittan, as well as The Who's Pete Townshend – 'Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)' topped the UK album charts.

Containing the hits 'Ashes To Ashes', 'Fashion', 'Up The Hill Backwards' and the title track, this is considered to be one of David Bowie's very best albums.

'Let's Dance', 1983

'Let's Dance' tends to get a retrospective short shrift, which is a little unfair on what still remains David Bowie's most commercially successful album. And while it does jettison much of the other-worldly mystery of his earlier work, taken on its own terms, this is still a fine pop album.

Produced by Chic maestro Nile Rodgers and featuring the nimble-fingered guitar work of blues supremo Stevie Ray Vaughan, the album houses the global smash-hits 'Let's Dance', 'Modern Love' and Bowie's distinct cover of Iggy Pop's 'China Girl'. And the re-recording of 'Cat People (Putting Out The Fire)' is pretty ace, too!

'The Buddha Of Suburbia', 1993

Probably David Bowie's most obscure album, it also happens to be one his best. Having spent the best part of the 80s in a creative cul-de-sac, David Bowie wrote and recorded this album in just six days after author Hanif Kureishi cheekily asked him to the soundtrack for the BBC's dramatisation of his award-winning novel, 'The Buddha Of Suburbia'.

Combining Bowie's pop nous (see the title track and 'Strangers When We Meet') with his more experimental urges ('Sex And The Church'), this is a varied album that merits exploration.

Indeed, Bowie rated it so highly that he was reportedly planning on playing it in full in the mid-noughties until ill health stopped him performing.

'Heathen', 2002

Reuniting with producer Tony Visconti, 'Heathen' is an album that no longer finds Bowie chasing trends in the way that he did with, say, the industrial rock-influenced '1. Outside', or the attempts at drum'n'bass on 'Earthling'. Here, he does what he does best – write great songs

Sounding remarkably relaxed and comfortable, 'Heathen' contains some wonderful numbers in the shape of 'Everyone Says "Hi"' and the beautiful 'Slip Away', as well as covers by Pixies ('Cactus') and Neil Young ('I've Been Waiting For You').

'The Next Day', 2013

Having long retired from the public eye, David Bowie caused a media frenzy and revived interest in his work by suddenly releasing new material seemingly out of nowhere.

Presaged by the haunting single, 'Where Are We Now?', 'The Next Day' is an album packed with quality material and proved that David Bowie still had something to say. Be it school shootings ('Valentine's Day'), celebrity culture ('The Stars Are Out Tonight') or the horrors of war ('I'd Rather Be High'), David Bowie was still on the button with hook-laden music to match.

'Blackstar', 2016

Written and recorded in secret after David Bowie had been diagnosed with liver cancer, 'Blackstar' is up there with the very best of his material. Dying two days after the album's release, closer inspection of the album's lyrics revealed plenty of clues about his imminent demise.

But this is far from a maudlin release. Working with New York jazz musician Donny McCaslin and his band, 'Blackstar' is an album that's full of life despite its subject matter. And there even some excellent in-jokes – see the reference to 'A New Career In A New Town' on the album's closer, 'I Can't Give Everything Away'.

Producer Tony Visconti called this David Bowie's "parting gift", and it's one that keeps on giving.

You can hear David Bowie's hits on the Absolute Radio playlist.

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