the rise of a star…the fall of a legend
in 1984, british newspaper reporter arthur stuart is investigating the career of 1970s glam rock star brian slade, who was heavily influenced in his early years by american rock singer curt wild, whose show was quite crazy for his time.
dir.: todd haynes
drama / music
ewan mcgregor as curt wild
jonathan rhys meyers as brian slade
christian bale as arthur stuart
toni collette as mandy slade
- jonathan rhys meyers and ewan mcgregor sang their own songs in the movie. (some of rhys meyers’s songs were overdubbed by radiohead lead singer thom yorke.)
- much of the dialog comes from oscar wilde’s writings.
- osheen jones, who plays jack fairy as a little boy, is the son of howard jones, british pop star of the 1980s.
- when brian first sees mandy, he says “do you jive?” that’s what david bowie is supposed to have said when he first saw his first wife, angela bowie.
- the david bowie song “velvet goldmine,” though originally recorded for the “hunky dory” album, wasn’t officially released until 1975, being the b-side to the re-issue of the “space oddity” single.
- todd haynes originally wanted to cast british pop star jarvis cocker as jack fairy.
- the name of brian slade’s rock persona, “maxwell demon,” and that of his band, “the venus in furs”, are references to two of the key artists in the original glam rock movement: maxwell demon was the name of a band in which brian eno performed in england in the mid 60s, and “venus in furs” is the name of a song by lou reed and the velvet underground. songs by both artists are featured on the film’s soundtrack.
- during the festival sequence where brian sees curt perform for the first time, ewan mcgregor was only due to moon the disgruntled crowd. but inspired by the antics of iggy pop, he improvised, and ended up gesticulating wildly while flashing the audience, leaping about with his trousers around his ankles.
- when christian bale and ewan mcgregor were filming their sex scene, the director cut without letting them know, so the two continued to simulate the act until they realized the trick that had been played on them.
- the film was originally supposed to feature some of david bowie’s music, hence the title. however, when bowie learned that the script for the film was partially based on the unauthorized biographies “stardust: the david bowie story”, written by henry edwards and tony zanetta and “backstage passes” written by bowie’s ex-wife angela bowie, he threatened the producers with a lawsuit. hence, no bowie songs were used, and the script was partially re-written to avoid unnecessary resemblance between bowie and the bowie-style character brian slade.
- the curt wild character is mainly inspired by david bowie’s relationship with two american 1960’s underground rockers whose careers bowie resurrected, iggy pop and lou reed. iggy pop hailed from michigan and shared wild’s long blond locks, while reed underwent shock therapy for bisexuality as a teen and was rumored to have had an affair with bowie before their falling out after bowie produced reed’s album transformer. much central to the film is fictionalized such as the mythical, mysterious decade-long disappearance of “slade”, although he reincarnated himself as tommy stone, a blonde with a white suit (the ‘thin white duke’). bowie wasn’t as huge of a star as slade is depicted here and never withdrew for so long from the public-eye as did the film’s character.