David Bowie’s art doesn’t need the posthumous surge in popularity it is sure to receive following his passing this week. We knew what we had with David Bowie. Well, we didn’t exactly know what we had, since we got the feeling that Bowie could have shed his skin and emerged as an entirely new entity without warning at any moment. But we did know that whatever he was, he was special.
He was in icon in music, yes, but his film career is noteworthy is well. Bowie starred in films like The Man Who Fell to Earth, Just a Gigolo, and Labyrinth, and had cameos in many others. Adding even just a few seconds of an onscreen Bowie to your movie could add a dose of the notability and charisma by which the rock star’s career was defined.
That’s the part of Bowie’s filmography we’re looking to focus on here, because his brief appearances in these various projects show how much he was loved. Directors and producers wanted to work with Bowie because he was an out-of-this-world figure, but also down to earth and relatable. Fans wanted to see him because watching Bowie in a new light felt like a quick peek behind the curtain eternally surrounding one of pop culture’s most confounding and enigmatic figures. Plus, he was a joy to watch in any capacity.
Below are a few of our favorite film and television cameos from the man who was a creative muse to so many.
When Derek Zoolander and Hansel had to settle things the old-fashioned way, there was really no better choice than Bowie to judge an impromptu walk-off. Also, he just happened to be there, so that’s a plus. He was no stranger to (outrageous and iconic) fashion during his career, so it’s only natural that Bowie knew the rules and etiquette of a proper walk-off, and was able to judge the contest fairly. It couldn’t have been easy to disqualify his pal Zoolander when he tried and failed to remove his underwear from inside his pants. But Bowie, like in his real life, knew how to do things the right way.
Bowie works for all ages, as he provided the voice of Lord Royal Highness (or LRH) in the SpongeBob special Atlantis SquarePantis. He plays a goofy leader with an exposed brain who looks more like a ’90s Nickelodeon character than one from the modern era. Bowie’s voice is perfect for animation, and he also developed a friendship with the franchise from there: He was recently on board to compose music for a SpongeBob musical.
Into the Night
David Bowie and Jeff Goldblum made for an ultimate union of entertainment gods, although we really wish Bowie would keep that gun out of his mouth.
Bowie didn’t actually voice himself in Venture Bros., but we’re sure he would approve of his image being used in an Adult Swim cartoon whose main antagonist is a super-villain named the Monarch. It’s perfectly weird enough to be right in Bowie’s wheelhouse: He helps defeat villains and morphs from a cigarette in Iggy Pop’s pack of smokes into his original form.
Flight of the Conchords
Jemaine does a fitting job of channeling various eras of Bowie lore to give Bret some advice in a dream. Really, who better for a struggling musician to get information from than Bowie? Unfortunately, Bowie’s advice doesn’t prove to be that fruitful, but it could be because dream Bowie is just what Bret imagines Bowie to be, not Bowie himself. That’s our theory and we’re sticking to it.
Watch the scene here, and let us know in the comments about your favorite Bowie pop culture moments that we didn’t include here.