If you've seen Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, you may have noticed some slight stylistic similarities between Benicio Del Toro's character, the powerful extraterrestrial being known as The Collector, and David Bowie's “alien rock god” persona Ziggy Stardust. Speaking with me today about his upcoming Balkan war film A Perfect Day, Del Toro indicated that while the similarities were unintentional, as a longtime Bowie fan (and in light of Bowie's death on Sunday at the age of 69) he nevertheless welcomes the comparisons.
“Anytime you put on like those big shoulder pads and the cape and you put your hair like that, we can trace it back to that David Bowie period with Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” said Del Toro of the singer, who Guardians director James Gunn said was pondering a potential cameo in the film's forthcoming sequel in a Facebook post earlier today. “But I worked with David Bowie in a film called Basquiat. So I met him and I've been a big fan of his music for a long time. And I'm actually shocked because I just bought his new album, Blackstar it's called. Sot it like two days ago, three days ago. And then I wake up today and I say, 'it can't be.' It's so sad. But yeah, I'll take the compliment. If people are saying that it was drawn from David Bowie, I'll go with that.”
As Del Toro mentioned, he had the opportunity not only to meet but to work with the singer as a cast member on the 1996 biopic about late Neo-Expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, in which Bowie played New York City pop art legend Andy Warhol. Del Toro recalled the surreal moment he first met the singer in the production's makeup trailer.
“I remember walking into the makeup trailer, and there he was,” Del Toro recounted. “And he just sat right next to me. He was very normal. Very normal, very polite. I was just like beside myself sitting there looking at myself and going like, 'can you believe it?' Looking at myself in the mirror, I'm sitting right next to David Bowie. But you know, he signed some things for me.”
Del Toro counts “Time,” “John, I'm Only Dancing,” “Blue Jean” and “Panic in Detroit” among his favorite Bowie tunes (he's been listening to Aladdin Sane as of late), and additionally he told me he's a big fan of the singer's most recent album Blackstar, which he said he's been playing in his car. “I've only listened to it twice,” he said of the album. “I don't know if you have it, but if you don't and you like David Bowie you should check it out cause it's really interesting.”
When I told Del Toro that last night I watched the music video for Blackstar track “Lazarus”
— released only three days prior to Bowie's death — after finding out that he died, the actor asked, “Isn't Lazarus the one who's revived from the dead?”
“Yes,” I answered. If only.