Christopher Nolan remembers working with David Bowie on The Prestige

"It was the only time I can ever remember trying again with an actor who passed on me"

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The Independent Culture

If it's been a while since you've seen Christopher Nolan's 2006 magic drama The Prestige, the things you're most likely to recall are an incredible twist, water tanks and David Bowie.

In the film, the late musician shows up in a small-but-crucial role as real-life physicist Nikola Tesla, the man who develops the contraption that brings the rivalry of magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) to a head.

Now, the Inception filmmaker has told Entertainment Weekly what it was like to work with his childhood hero.

He explained how the casting of Tesla had been particularly difficult before lengthy discussions led Nolan to realise that Tesla "...was the original Man who Fell to Earth."

"As someone who was the biggest Bowie fan in the world, once I made that connection, he seemed to be the only actor capable of playing the part. 

Having settled on an actor, the director soon realised that convincing his idol would prove the real struggle.

"It was the only time I can ever remember trying again with an actor who passed on me," Nolan revealed.

"In total honesty, I told him if he didn't agree to do the part, I had no idea where I would go from there. I would say I begged him."

Talking about the atmosphere on set when filming Bowie's scenes, Nolan said: "He had a level of charisma beyond what you normally experience... I've never seen a crew respond to any movie star that way.

"But he was very gracious and understood the effect he had on people."

Nolan was able to share a few personal moments with the musician, commenting: "I loved the fact that after having worked with him, I had just the same fascination with his talent and his charisma. I thought that was quite magical."

Christopher Nolan recently announced his next film would be Dunkirk, a WWII drama starring Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hardy, released July 2017.

His last film, Interstellar, was released in 2014.