By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — Though David Bowie achieved fame and greatness as a musician, he also did his share of acting. His most memorable role came in the film “The Man Who Fell To Earth,” a 1976 film inspired by Walter Tevis’ novel of the same title. The film had such impact that no one’s dared try to do a new version. But now Showtime is tackling it in a different way, by creating a series.
Showtime’s “The Man who Fell To Earth” debuted last Sunday. It’s a 10-part series featuring Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role as Faraday, an alien who’s on a desperate mission to save the planet. Scientist Justin (played by Naomie Harris) joins Farady in the quest, although it takes time for her to warm up to him.
The biggest difference in these versions, aside from one being a film and the other a series, is that you have have two Black leads in a science fiction project. While sci-fi has long used Black actors in various roles, it’s seldom that two are not just the lead actors but the principal stars.
“I love the fact that this is not a remake, this is a sequel,” Harris told the Shadow and Act website in a recent interview. “It’s offering something completely different, completely different characters and storylines. But, it’s still continuing the same themes as well. They’re even more relevant themes to today than they were 40 years ago when the film was made. They speak to us in very different ways as a new audience watching it. I think people will be really excited and moved by that. And more than anything, I want them to connect to these new characters and to be entertained.”
It’s not the first time for either in the genre. Ejiofor played Karl Mordo, a “Doctor Strange” supporting character, in the 2016 Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Harris worked with “Moonlight” co-star Mahershala Ali for Apple TV+’s “Swan Song.”
“I think that one of the really important parts of this show is that it talks about humanity and humanity is very diverse,” he said. “And so any representation of humanity should be diverse in that way. What I hope is that this show and shows like it shows that have Black leads in, by normalizing having Black leads in sci-fi to the point that it’s not noteworthy. I just hope that that happens so younger actors don’t feel like there are any constraints in what they may be able to do and might be able to express creatively and artistically in this medium. I think that’s really important and it’s an important part of this show as well.”
“The Man Who Fell to Earth” is currently airing on Showtime on Sundays.