Stardust's Johnny Flynn received "violent hate mail" for David Bowie depiction

7 January 2021, 13:18 | Updated: 7 January 2021, 13:25

The Stardust actor has talked about the heavy abuse he received online after the trailer came out, with some accusing him of making Bowie too feminine.

Johnny Flynn has revealed he received online abuse and homophobic abuse for his depiction of David Bowie.

The British actor, who stars as the late icon in the upcoming pre-fame biopic Stardust, has opened up about the public's initial reactions to his portrayal.

“When the trailer came out there were a couple of weeks of getting really heavy stuff online," he told NME.

"I’m not big into social media, but I was getting a lot of violent hate mail and stuff from people saying: ‘You played him like he’s insecure’. And then homophobic abuse: ‘You’re playing him all fey. Why is he wearing a dress?’"

Watch the trailer for the film above.

Johnny Flynn in the Stardust film and David Bowie in 1971
Johnny Flynn portrays David Bowie in the upcoming Stardust biopic. Picture: 1. Press/Vertigo Releasing 2. Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

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The Les Miserables star added: "It’s like the world hasn’t changed. People get upset about Harry Styles wearing a dress. So I’m happy that the film might be an education for people that breaks down some made-up version of David that they have in their mind.

"That in itself felt like justification for doing it, to shine a light on a David that you didn’t see. People think he arrived in 1972, ‘73 as Ziggy, this alien, and there was so much going on before that and so much that went into that.

"David needed to make Ziggy to save himself from himself.”

Flynn also believes that the intense reactions to the film mostly stem from the idea of it and the fact they weren't granted the use of Bowie's music from his estate.

"In this country, people haven’t seen it yet, so they were reacting to the idea of the film,” he said. "People who see the film seem to really like it and I think it does speak for itself.

"I always knew it was going to be a contentious film. We made it without the rights to the songs and without working with his estate kind of on purpose, because we wanted journalistic integrity and authorial objectivity."

David Bowie's son Duncan Jones finds Christmas scarf from icon's The Snowman introduction

The negative reactions were no doubt helped by Bowie's son Duncan Jones strongly distancing himself from the project early on.

Taking to Twitter, after hitting out at a journalist in January 2019, the Moon filmmaker wrote: "Pretty certain nobody has been granted music rights for ANY biopic... I would know."

He added: "Im not saying this movie is not happening. I honestly wouldn't know.

"I'm saying that as it stands, this movie won't have any of dad's music in it, & I can't imagine that changing. If you want to see a biopic without his music or the famiy's blessing, thats up to the audience."

Bowie fans can soon make their own minds up as Stardust is set for release on digital platforms on 15 January 2021.

The synopsis reads: "Meet David before Bowie. One of the greatest icons in music history; But who was the young man behind the many faces? In 1971, a 24 year old David Bowie embarks on his first road trip to America with Mercury Records publicist Ron Oberman, only to be met with a world not yet ready for him. STARDUST offers a glimpse behind the curtain of the moments that inspired the creation of Bowie's first and most memorable alter ego Ziggy Stardust, capturing the turning point that cemented his career as one of the world's greatest cultural icons."

Stardust was produced by Paul Van Carter, Nick Taussig and Matt Code. Executive producers are Fabien Westerhoff, Christopher Figg and Robert Whitehouse. The film was produced by UK-based Salon Pictures (Churchill, and the double BAFTA-nominated MCQUEEN), and is a co-production with Wildling Pictures in Canada. Film Constellation financed the film alongside Piccadilly Pictures.

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