Sure, he was great as Jareth in Labyrinth, but we are of the mind that David Bowie’s finest film performance was playing genius-inventor Nikola Tesla in The Prestige, Christopher Nolan’s dark and twisty tale of rival magicians in late-1800’s London. Bowie’s Tesla, whose screen time is only a few minutes, radiates an intense, even sexual, brilliance and drive. His first scene, in which he calmly walks through a cloud of arcing electricity, just might be the greatest on-screen introduction in recent memory. Bowie was Nolan’s first choice to play the part; when The Still Thin White Duke declined the role, the director flew to New York to make a personal plea.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCE(S): Terrific as: the big-haired Goblin King in Labyrinth, the tormented POW in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and the ill-fated extraterrestrial visitor in The Man Who Fell to Earth.