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David Bowie: 25 of Artist’s Most Unforgettable Onscreen Moments

Five decades of star turns and innovative clips from rock’s ultimate video artist

No artist used video as creatively as David Bowie – the cracked actor redefined the idea of interpreting music for the camera. Before MTV existed, he did more than anyone else to invent the music video – and then pushed its boundaries as far as they could go. He took his film career more seriously than other rock singers did, building up a unique body of cinematic work. And his fantastic voyage through 50 years of pop culture took him all over TV, appearing everywhere from morning chat shows to live festivals. From a lifetime in front of the camera, here are 25 of Bowie's most unforgettable onscreen moments. 

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“I’m Afraid of Americans” (1997)

A fascinating artifact from Bowie's most low-profile era, the Nineties. He plays an ordinary guy walking around New York – except he's chased across town by Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, who's wearing a Taxi Driver-style Army jacket and hasn't washed his hair since The Downward Spiral. An eerily impressive showcase for both stars.

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‘Zoolander’ (2001)

That's right – it's a walk-off. Bowie naturally steals the show in the classic Ben Stiller-Owen Wilson comedy. When model Derek Zoolander challenges his archrival Hansel to settle their disputes on the runway with a walk-off, all they need is an expert judge. Guess who magically shows up ready to volunteer? They're just lucky he doesn't join the battle – because nobody could ever out-pose Bowie. 

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“The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” (2013)

The key video in his historic comeback with The Next Day. After years out of the public eye, he returns playing half of a quiet suburban couple, with Bowie look-alike Tilda Swinton as his wife. Best moment: Bowie pounds on the wall of the Bowie clone next door who plays his music too loud.

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“Lazarus” (2016)

An intensely moving clip – even before we knew it was his goodbye to the world he changed in so many ways. It's full of unforgettable images: Bowie in a sickbed, eyes bandaged, singing, "I've got scars that can't be seen"; Bowie writing at his desk, fighting to stay upright. Bowie wobbling across the floor and locking himself inside the cupboard. "Lazarus" would become a haunting farewell from an artist who never stopped looking for new ways to surprise and challenge us.

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