Why Martin Scorsese chose David Bowie over Lou Reed

(Credit: CBS / Wikimedia)

While they were longest friends, David Bowie and Lou Reed had their fair share of competitive tension. During the 70s, in addition to flourishing as Ziggy Stardust and shaking up the rock and roll scene, Bowie also found time to save the careers of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Mott The Hoople with his impeccable work at the table. mixing. Bowie was clearly an inspiration for the acting trio but, with sincerity came a great deal of creative rivalry.

There is no doubt that Bowie was heavily influenced by Lou Reed and his work with The Velvet Underground and, as the two continued to create music in their own ways, their creative desires intersected quite often. While the two remained best friends for decades, Bowie and Reed did indeed go through some exceptionally delicate moments in their relationship, most notably when the man from Velvet Underground attempted to punch the Thin White Duke square in the nose after the tensions escalated during dinner.

Although the moment of the punches turns out to be the most dangerous of the physical encounters between the two, they rub shoulders in a creative rush in many other situations; especially when the two rockers clashed to attract the attention of management Martin Scorsese. The Angry bull The director once revealed that Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed auditioned for a role in his 1988 film. The last temptation of Christ but was preceded by David Bowie.

The film, which was written by Paul Schrader, is an adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’ controversial 1955 novel and stars Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Harry Dean Stanton and, of course, David Bowie.

Shot entirely in Morocco, the film depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle against various forms of temptation. The project, given a big budget for Scorsese, suffered many setbacks in pre-production with a series of cast reshuffles due to repeated breakdowns in negotiations. While Dafoe’s performance as Christ garnered positive reviews, he only landed the role after Aidan Quinn left the job. Likewise, with the role of Pontius Pilate, musician Sting was initially lined up before deciding not to be involved, which led to Bowie stepping in.

While the upheaval wasn’t tricky enough for the production team, Scorsese was tasked with choosing between two close friends in their casting decision as Lou Reed and Bowie auditioned for the same role. “Lou and I have gotten to know each other over the years,” the director revealed in a new post for The Guardian. “I was so touched when he wrote a song about me and Sam Shepard on his 1984 album New Sensations – it was actually about our job and what it meant to him.

“In 1987 he auditioned for the role of Pontius Pilate in my film The last temptation of Christbut his old friend David Bowie ended up playing the part, ”Scorsese added.

The filmmaker then explained that while his paths and those of Reed crossed several times in the years that followed, they failed to transform their friendship into a working relationship: “In the 90s we tried to make a film based on Dirty Boulevard from Lou’s New York album, from a screenplay by Reinaldo Povod, who had written a play called Cuba and his Teddy Bear with Bob De Niro and who later died at a very young age. We were never able to put this image into production.

While Bowie was well and truly immersed in the world of cinema before the release of The last temptation of Christ, the role would ignite more ambition from the Starman who would continue to work on the big screen for years afterward. Lou Reed, meanwhile, opted against the art form and returned to the studio.


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