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See David Bowie’s First Acting Role in the 1967 X-Rated Horror Film ‘The Image’

In addition to the immense influence of his 50-year music career, David Bowie carved out a significant film repertoire with appearances in The Man Who Fell to Earth, Labyrinth and others. His very first role came in the 1967 horror film The Image, which has been a scarce find over the years, but it’s now emerged online.

The David Bowie Archive granted the Wall Street Journal permission to share The Image, which stars a 20-year-old Bowie alongside Michael Byrne. Byrne portrays an artist whose painting comes to life; Bowie is the animated version of that portrait. The dialogue-less super-short is only 14 minutes in length, and it originally screened between two porn films in a London theater.

“Whether David had gone in on his own, I don’t know, but he said he felt really strange sitting there on his own, in this cinema with all these guys in their raincoats,” director Michael Armstrong told the WSJ. Bowie reported back that others in attendance were confused by the film’s appearance. “He thought it was hilarious,” Armstrong added.

Bowie’s character persistently haunts Byrne, and the film captures their struggle. “It got an X-certificate,” Armstrong said. “I think it was the first short that got an X-certificate. For its violence, which in itself was extraordinary.”

You can watch Bowie’s first acting gig — for which he only earned “around 10 quid a day” — at the top of the page.

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