Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now
Legendary British film director Nicolas Roeg passed away last night, November 23, at age 90.
He was already 10 years into a career as a cinematographer when he made his directorial debut with Performance, the (very) notorious 1970 film starring acting newbie Mick Jagger as a reclusive (what else?) rock star. It had been delayed for two years by Warner Brothers, who were, to say the least, exceedingly nervous about its unflinching violence and sexual content.
Forward to 1976, and Roeg had Don’t Look Now to his credit – a psychological horror film starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, filmed in Venice and now considered a suspense classic. But while punk was emerging in England, he found himself directing an emaciated, likely substance-addled David Bowie (as alien Thomas Jerome Newton) in The Man Who Fell to Earth, effectively launching the latter into a whole other level of stardom.
David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth
Roeg’s directorial career would afterwards tend towards the cultish, with him notably contributing a segment to 1987s hallucinatory “anthology” Aria, and unapologetically bestowing on the world one of the weirdest star-vehicles absolutely ever in Track 29 – which found Gary Oldman, Theresa Russell, Christopher Lloyd and Sandra Bernhard navigating an unrepentantly bizarre script, which at times involved the latter two indulging a kinky, um…toy train fetish.
His last feature film was 2007s Puffball, with Miranda Richardson and Sutherland again. No cause of death has yet been announced.