As the world celebrates what would have been the 72nd birthday of David Bowie, it's key to remember that he not only revolutionised the music world, he also made a huge impact on the film world.

From the very beginning of his career, Bowie's choices in film were bold, daring and unique - just like the man himself. His first major role was, of course, Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell To Earth, based on the novel by Walter Tevis. A deeply philosophical sci-fi drama about an alien who crash-lands on Earth, the role could have easily been written with Bowie in mind.

Here's just a handful of Bowie's best work on screen...

 

5. LABYRINTH - The Magic Dance

Starring as the Goblin King in Jim Henson's surprisingly dark musical, Bowie contributed to the soundtrack with this bouncy pop masterpiece. The role itself for Bowie was an interesting one. Playing a tyrannical sorcerer, he kidnapped 15-year old Jennifer Connelly's brother - who actually wished for it to happen. Once she realises what's she done, she travels into the titular labyrinth after him, only to find that Bowie's Goblin King has fallen in love with her. There's a generation of women who became infatuated with David Bowie thanks to that hair and his riding jodhpurs.

 

4. ZOOLANDER - "I believe I might be of assistance?"

It's a silly little cameo, but it just goes to show how impactful David Bowie was. The film literally stops for a few seconds when Bowie appears to judge Zoolander and Hansel's walk-off. And who better to judge said walk-off than David Bowie? As well as being married to supermodel Iman, Bowie was a guiding light for the fashion industry for many years.

 

 

3. THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - "It's one thing to want to change how people live, but you want to change how they think..."

Martin Scorsese always had a sharp eye for casting, but one that he doesn't get enough credit for is placing David Bowie into the middle of Roman-occupied Jerusalem as Pontius Pilate. The role could have easily descended into hamminess, with Bowie giving into every theatrical, over-the-top leaning he might have had. Instead, he reigned it all in and made Pilate a flawed, real human being. Pragmatic above all else, Bowie's Pilate changed how people viewed the Roman consul and, in this brilliant scene opposite Willem Dafoe, we see just how talented an actor Bowie was.

 

 

2. THE PRESTIGE - "I have followed them too long, I am their slave - and one day, they will choose to destroy me."

For playing a character that has such a central role in the film, David Bowie only had a short amount of screentime in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi drama The Prestige. Playing Nikola Tesla, the mad genius of the 19th century, Bowie appears as quickly as he disappears. However, the short time he's there is more than enough to leave a lasting impression. In a strange, it's almost like a reverse-image of his role in The Man Who Fell To Earth. While the alien in Nicolas Roeg's drama is full of optimism, his might-as-well-be-an-alien Tesla is filled with remorse and doubt.

 

1. THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH - "I... I think you know too much about me..."

Arguably David Bowie's most well-known role, the film's shocking in both its content and how real it was for Bowie himself. At the time, he was deep into a heavy cocaine addiction and was, in his own words, "stoned out of my mind from beginning to end." In a strange way, that plays into the role. We see an alien who literally crash-lands on Earth and becomes absorbed by the very worst in human culture; violence, religion, greed, until it eventually eats away at him and destroys him. This particular scene sees Bowie's character realising the fragility of life and how easily he can take it. It's pretty dark, but there's a certain desperation about how he plays that's really interesting.