The 37-year-old singer-and-actor portrays the late music legend in the new biopic - which is set during the singer’s first trip to America in 1971 - and though Bowie’s son has distanced the family from the project and insisted they wouldn’t be granting director Gabriel Range the rights to use his music in the film, Johnny insisted that doesn’t matter.
He said: “From the start, Gabriel was not seeking the permission of the estate or the rights of the songs.
“Nobody is interested in me singing David Bowie songs, just like I’m not interested in Rami Malik singing Queen songs.
“As for the lack of the family’s permission, I feel that has been spun out.
“We all love Bowie, but the film was made independently and I believe it is the right of a storyteller to do that.”
Johnny admitted he initially worried the role would be a “poisoned chalice” and was reluctant to sign on because he didn’t want to see a diluted story in the way he’d watched first-hand how the Queen biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ changed over time.
He told The Times magazine: “I’m not into music biopics because they create a spectacle around someone who is already a spectacle.
“I had been cast as Roger Taylor in the Queen film and as it went from Sacha Baron Cohen to Ben Whishaw playing Freddie, the script kept changing to something more homogenised and less interesting until eventually I pulled out.
“So I was reticent about playing Bowie. It seemed like a poisoned chalice.”
But the actor ultimately changed his mind and is thankful the film was an independent movie that allowed the director to explore the mental illness of David’s brother Terry and suggest the ‘Aladdin Sane’ hitmaker’s own multiple personas were a reaction to his own fear of also developing schizophrenia.
He said: “If this were a bigger-budget movie, a studio would probably tell you to take that stuff out.
“That happened with the Queen film, which is why it ended up with its manipulated, emotional finale.”
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