Tilda Swinton on David Bowie: He ‘Looked Like Someone From the Same Planet as I Did’
Mere hours after the Golden Globes had come to an end, as the crème de la crème of Hollywood dispersed in a fleet of black cars to fabulous, Champagne-flowing afterparties, the sad news broke that music legend David Bowie had passed away at the age of 69.
A message on Bowie’s official Facebook page stated that on Jan. 10, “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”
The news was confirmed by Bowie’s director-son Duncan Jones, who tweeted the following remembrance of his father:
The man formerly known as David Robert Jones had just celebrated his 69th birthday on Jan. 8, the same day he’d released his 25th—and final—studio album, Blackstar. The Brit was a glam-rock icon, palling around with the likes of Andy Warhol, Basquiat, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop, and producing career-defining albums by the latter two: Reed’s Tranformer and Iggy Pop’s The Idiot and Lust for Life. There are, of course, too many legendary Bowie albums and songs to mention, though 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is perhaps his best, an endlessly imaginative concept album focused on Bowie’s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, a bisexual alien who’s come down to Earth to expose the so-called artifice of pop music.
One of Bowie’s biggest fans—who also bears a striking physical resemblance to the androgynous icon—is Tilda Swinton. The two tall, pale, thin beauties have even inspired Tumblrs about how they might be the same person, and the Oscar-winning actress starred in Bowie’s music video for “The Stars (Are Out Tonight).” In the film A Bigger Splash, which premiered in September at the Venice Film Festival, Swinton paid tribute to Bowie, portraying a celebrated glam-rock singer named Marianne Lane that’s a clear play on Ziggy Stardust.
In 2014, I sat down with Swinton to discuss her relationship to Bowie, with the star getting very candid and emotional in discussing their cosmic connection.
“My whole relationship with Bowie started when I was 13, and I bought a copy of Aladdin Sane when I didn’t have a record player,” Swinton said of the kindred spirits. “I had this record for a year before I could play it, and it was the image—not the sound—that I was attracted to. I just saw this image and thought he was my cousin. He just looked like me, and looked like someone from the same planet as I did, and that was a great comfort to me at the time when I was 13 and 14 looking like that, that someone not only looked like that, but felt proud enough to stick themselves on the front of an album with a zig-zag across their face and a dewy collarbone. He’s always felt like a cousin.”
She also elaborated on their music video collaboration, “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” which depicts the pair as a couple. “The moment happens when the phone rings and it’s someone who calls themself David Bowie, and you never stop pinching yourself,” she said. “It was the easiest thing in the world. I was talking recently with a friend of mine who’s determined to never meet her heroes, and I have another friend who’s been horribly disillusioned a couple of times. But I’ve had a wonderful ride with meeting people who have been my North Stars, and Bowie’s definitely one of them. He feels like my cousin; like the cousin I never had.”