David Bowie’s Weirdest Film Role Came From A Dumb Joke
Today sees the release of Moonage Daydream, the new documentary about legendary rock star/Goblin monarch impersonator David Bowie. Of course, Bowie appeared in many movies throughout his career; from The Man Who Fell to Earth, to The Prestige, to Zoolander – but perhaps his oddest screen role came when he randomly cameoed as F.B.I. agent Philip Jeffries in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, boasting a Southern accent that can best be described as: “Huh?”
Even for a movie based on a show that featured evil owls and interdimensional giants, seeing the guy who sang “Space Oddity” show up, scream about someone named “Judy” like Foghorn Leghorn for 30 seconds, and then disappear into thin air was … a bit much. How did Bowie end up in this confounding scene?
According to Robert Engels, the co-writer of Fire Walk With Me, this all began as a ridiculous joke. Apparently, Lynch’s assistant was a fan and “repeatedly asked her boss to write a movie part for Bowie," so when Engels and Lynch were working on the screenplay for Fire Walk With Me, whenever they brought up the character of Jeffries, the assistant jokingly added: “As played by David Bowie,” which everyone would laugh at. Then, at a certain point, Lynch suggested: “I think we should get David Bowie.” Unfortunately, Bowie wasn’t able to return for the recent Twin Peaks revival due to his declining health, hence why he was replaced by … a giant tea kettle-esque contraption.
As for the mysterious “Judy” Jeffries keeps bringing up, the name was, apparently, simply an oblique nod to Engels’ sister-in-law. And the revival’s revelation that “Judy” was really an ancient demon known as “Joudy,” was later cobbled together by co-creator Mark Frost once it became apparent that Lynch “had no idea” who the hell Judy was.
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Thumbnail: New Line Cinema