No one who was paying attention to David Bowie’s career was surprised when he starting acting in movies. The only mystery was what took him long — and why he did it so little. As a rock star, the man born David Robert Jones spent the 1970s trying on different characters, writing and singing songs as “Ziggy Stardust” or the “Thin White Duke.” He put on unapologetically theatrical concerts, and showcased his music in trippy little short films years before MTV existed. With his soft, pleasant speaking voice, his angular face, and his faraway eyes, Bowie had a naturally magnetic screen presence.
And yet though the David Bowie filmography is, unsurprisingly, a varied one — he played everything from a decadent, centuries-old vampire to Pontius Pilate and Andy Warhol — it’s a regrettably small one, consisting mainly of a handful of leading roles and a smattering of movies where he dropped in for a few scenes and often stole the movie. Here are the highlights from the late rocker’s side gig.
Editor’s Note: this list was originally published January 2016.