Johnny Flynn has developed quite a knack for playing prolific and game-changing historical icons, so you can rest assured that he’ll do David Bowie justice in the upcoming biopic Stardust. Flynn, who recently played a young Albert Einstein on Genius, was confirmed this week to be playing the titular role in the film, per Variety.
Stardust will reportedly focus on Bowie’s first trip from his native England to the U.S., in 1971, which inspired him to develop his Ziggy Stardust persona. Joining Flynn in the film are Jena Malone, who will play Bowie’s first wife, Angie Barnett, and Marc Maron, who will play Bowie’s record company publicist, the logical follow-up to his unforgettable role as the “Angry Promoter” in Almost Famous. Stardust will be directed by British filmmaker Gabriel Range (Death of a President) and based on a script from Christopher Bell, whose recent projects include Netflix’s The Last Czars.
You may recognize Flynn from his role on the entirely underrated Netflix show Lovesick or, more recently, on Amazon’s Vanity Fair. He also appeared on the 2018 BBC adaptation of Les Misérables, and is currently starring opposite Kit Harington in the West End production of Sam Shepard’s True West. In a 2017 interview with W, he shared that he’s also played a murderer, a Cosmo Kramer-inspired character on a sitcom, and the lead in an all-male, nudity-filled production of Twelfth Night—a far-reaching resumé that’ll undoubtedly serve him well as he prepares to step into the shoes of the ever-evolving, Chameleon-esque Bowie. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also been the lead singer and songwriter of folk rock band Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit since 2006, and clearly has the musical chops to recreate Bowie’s early ’70s performances.
Flynn also spoke to W about his process for taking on the persona of a historical figure. “There’s a huge sense of duty to this idea of a person who is very well loved and who deserves a lot of respect,” he said of playing Einstein in Genius. “I’ve failed at maths and stuff in school, so I felt like I needed to work hard at that stuff. They had these amazing physics professors from local universities on set all the time; I would have these tutorial sessions with them and talk about dark matter, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and these things, which I have just the barest grasp of now. But I really loved going into it. I think just doing some of that work helped me feel like I at least deserved to be there a tiny bit.”
He went on to explain how he found a new way to approach Einstein, beyond the general public’s image of the scientist. “Obviously, I had to pay a lot of attention to stories about him. But what I found was that he was not the sort of archetypal absent-minded professor; he was young, rakish, very energetic, slightly rebellious sort of bohemian poet. He was like a philosopher, or a Byronic sort of thinker. And charming, and attractive to his peers and the girls that he fell in love with and everything. So that was cool to explore,” he said.