‘He always felt like he was an imposter’: Andy Serkis Revealed David Bowie’s True Feelings Towards Acting After Christopher Nolan Begged Him to Join The Prestige

Andy Serkis reveals that David Bowie had doubts about playing the role of Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige

‘He always felt like he was an imposter’: Andy Serkis Revealed David Bowie’s True Feelings Towards Acting After Christopher Nolan Begged Him to Join The Prestige

SUMMARY

  • Legendary musician David Bowie was persuaded into playing the role of Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige.
  • Andy Serkis, who played the role of Tesla's assistant, revealed that Bowie was concerned about playing the role due to his imposter syndrome.
  • Serkis added that the singer was, however, very modest and down to earth and interacted with other artists on the set.
Show More
Featured Video

Andy Serkis had the opportunity to act alongside the legendary David Bowie in one of his rare film appearances in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige. Bowie played a fictionalized version of the real-life inventor Nikola Tesla and Serkis played his assistant, Mr. Alley. Serkis revealed that the Space Oddity singer had a little bit of imposter syndrome playing the character, but still gave his best shot at it.

Advertisement
David Bowie as Nikola Tesla in The Prestige
David Bowie as Nikola Tesla in The Prestige

Interestingly, Bowie initially turned down the role of Tesla before Nolan turned up on his doorstep and convinced him to take the role. Nolan reunited with Batman Begins star Christian Bale for this psychological thriller film, which also featured Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and Michael Caine.

Also Read: Refreshing Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Update Welcomed by Andy Serkis Fans

Advertisement

Andy Serkis Reveals David Bowie’s Imposter Syndrome While Working On The Prestige

Andy Serkis and David Bowie with Hugh Jackman in The Prestige
Andy Serkis and David Bowie with Hugh Jackman in The Prestige

Andy Serkis attended the Global Premiere of David Bowie‘s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Motion Picture in London in July 2023. Serkis got to work closely with the late musician in Christopher Nolan‘s The Prestige. Reflecting on their collaboration, Serkis revealed that Bowie was concerned about taking on the role. Despite his fears about acting, the Ashes to Ashes singer enjoyed the company of other artists in the film.

Serkis went on to share that Bowie faced imposter syndrome as an actor. While he was a legend in the music field, Bowie struggled to determine whether acting was truly “his thing”. Nevertheless, the King Kong actor revealed that Bowie gave the role “a damn good shot”. Serkis also recounted an instance when Bowie voiced his doubts about portraying the role to him. He felt that his portrayal of Tesla felt more like Inspector Clouseau. The Andor actor shared at the premiere (via virginradio.co.uk):

“He was obviously very concerned with the craft of acting, but actually, more than that, he wanted to have a good time. He really was someone who enjoyed other people’s company, enjoyed other artists’ company.” 

Andy Serkis continued:

Advertisement

“As an actor, he always felt like he was slightly an imposter, which was quite interesting that he was kind of like, was this really his thing? But he’ll give it a damn good shot, you know? So he laughed at himself a lot. When we were doing The Prestige, he said, ‘I think my Nikola Tesla, who was from Belgrade, sounds a little bit like Inspector Clouseau!'”

The Lord of the Rings actor also added that he was a huge fan of Bowie’s music. Moreover, he expressed admiration for the “variety of [artistic] choices” made by the Starman singer throughout his career. Serkis shared, “He was so normal… he was very modest, incredibly modest.” It appears that Andy Serkis’s comments about Bowie haven’t changed over the years, as he shared a similar account to IndieLondon at the time of the film’s release. Serkis shared:

“He’s very unassuming, very down to earth – he doesn’t laud his status as rock legend at all. He’s actually very at ease with himself and funny. We had a lot of laughs.”

David Bowie passed away on January 10, 2016, due to liver cancer. His other notable film roles included Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth, Andy Warhol in Basquiat, and Phillip Jeffries in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

Also Read: “I had a thing called Kongolizer”: Andy Serkis Used a Bizarre Device While Playing King Kong Opposite Naomi Watts

Advertisement

Christopher Nolan Had To Convince David Bowie To Take On The Prestige Role

Christopher Nolan with Hugh Jackman on the sets of The Prestige
Christopher Nolan with Hugh Jackman on the sets of The Prestige

In an old interview with IGN, Christopher Nolan revealed that David Bowie was the only guy he had in mind for the role of Nikola Tesla. Nolan explained that the small yet crucial role needed an “extraordinarily charismatic and noticeable presence” on screen. Nolan specifically wanted a non-movie star to play this character and concluded that Bowie was the perfect choice for the role.

However, Bowie was initially not interested in taking on the role. The determined Nolan flew out to New York to convince Bowie, saying, “I don’t have anyone else in mind who can do it the way I can see it in the film.” Lucky for Nolan, Bowie accepted his invitation for the role. Nolan later shared with The Irish Times that he was a “huge Bowie fan all [his] life” and that it was an “amazing pleasure” to meet and work with him.

Also Read: Marvel Actor’s “Bizarre” Idea To Mimic Andy Serkis’ “Cinematic History” Ended Badly After Film Horribly Tanked Despite Stellar Cast

Advertisement

The Prestige grossed $109 million at the box office against a budget of $40 million. The film is now available for streaming on Paramount+.

Avatar

Written by Hashim Asraff

Articles Published: 1515

Hashim, Entertainment Writer. With over 1000 published articles on FandomWire, he covers a wide range of topics from celebrity life to comic book movies. He holds a Masters degree in Sociology and his expertise proves invaluable in handling sensitive news. His passion for crime investigation thrillers has turned him into a detective, exploring the darkest corners of the internet during his research.