David Bowie‘s acting career is best known for surreal, otherworldly roles like the ones he played in Labyrinth and The Hunger. But the rock star had a knack for comedy, too. In 2006, Bowie appeared as himself on an episode of Ricky Gervais’ Hollywood satire Extras, delivering one of his most memorable television appearances.
In the clip, Gervais’ character Andy Millman is at a party when he sees his idol, Bowie. His friend Maggie, played by Ashley Jensen, encourages Andy to approach the star. As he tells Bowie about feeling like a sell-out with his sitcom, the rocker starts singing a little song about Andy’s sad tale: “Little fat man who sold his soul…” Feeling inspired, Bowie moves to the piano where he starts singing a song about the “chubby little loser” to an excited group of partygoers — who help write and sing the lyrics — and a dejected Andy.
A few hours after news of Bowie’s passing circulated earlier this week , Judd Apatow called the appearance “as good as comedy gets.” Extras co-star Stephen Merchant also recalled the guest appearance, writing “honoured to have known [Bowie], if only for an afternoon.”
Gervais, who hosted the Golden Globes on Sunday night, went into further detail in a tribute for The Hollywood Reporter about the friendship he developed with Bowie. In it, Gervais recalled Bowie’s reaction when he presented the idea for the scene, having asked him to sing something “retro, something like “Life on Mars?” Bowie responded sarcastically, “Sure, I’ll just knock off a quick ‘Life on Mars?’ for you.”
Gervais also recalled the moment when Bowie introduced him at a benefit not too long after by singing the song from Extras. “So that’s two highlights of my career with the same man,” Gervais reflected.