Director Richard Shepard Remembers David Bowie: 'He Was Just This Beam of Light'

Rosanna Arquette, David Bowie
Everett Collection

Rosanna Arquette and David Bowie in 1991's "The Linguini Incident."

The filmmaker (who now works on 'Girls') tells why casting the musician in his first feature, 1992's 'The Linguini Incident,' was the best decision he ever made: "It didn't do well. .... But for the rest of my life I've been able to say, 'I worked with Bowie.'

I was 25 when I made this movie. We made it for not a lot of money -- $2 million -- so it was extra­ordinary to have Bowie in it. There was a supporting role, and I was like, "You know, Bowie could play this role." So we sent the script to him on the chance that he might want to play a supporting role. It was a ridiculous long shot. He wrote back saying he didn't want to play that role -- he wanted to play the lead. But as an arrogant, ignorant 25-year-old, I was like, "I'm not sure he can play the lead." So I flew to Philadelphia, where he was on tour, to meet with him -- he paid for my plane ticket! -- and I'll never forget walking into his hotel room. He opened the door, and I looked past him because I didn't think the man who opened the door was David Bowie. He was so normal-looking -- I was not expecting that. I really thought he was going to be an oddball.

David Bowie on the Charts: From 'Changes' to 'Fame' and Beyond

He was so interested in everything. He never left the set. Bowie would just sit and talk to whoever was around. He was just this beam of light. He'd been famous for so long, he'd come around to being the person that he was -- which was this genuinely nice guy. He had an incredible laugh, a smoker's laugh. He smoked like a crazy man. But he had a really deep sense of humor.

I ran into Bowie on the street a few years ago. We hadn't remained friends -- not for any other reason than that's just what happens in the world -- but we had been friends while we made the movie. I was a very young man back then. And the film was heartbreaking on many levels. It didn't do well -- it opened on the weekend of the L.A. riots, so nobody saw it. It really hurt.

But for the rest of my life I've been able to say, "I worked with Bowie."

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.