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This story first appeared in the June 11, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
MOONWALKER: Directorial debuts often involve ensemble casts in quirky vignettes. Less so science fiction flicks starring Sam Rockwell and coproduced by Trudie Styler.
However, with his first feature film, “Moon,” out Friday, Duncan Jones hopes to revive sci-fi’s low-budget underpinnings, harkening back to films from the late Seventies. Shot on two soundstages in a London studio and set in the near future, “Moon” features Rockwell as Sam Bell, an astronaut at the tail end of a three-year contract mining helium on the moon’s surface with only a robot (voiced by Kevin Spacey) for company. After he suffers a near fatal accident, he encounters a younger version of himself, prompting a host of metaphysical musings.
Jones, the 38-year-old son of David Bowie and his first wife, Angela Barnett, is no stranger to feelings of displacement. Growing up in Bowie’s custody (his parents divorced when he was young), he led a peripatetic childhood, living everywhere from Berlin and Scotland to Japan and Australia. He attended college in Wooster, Ohio, and was on a philosophy Ph.D. track at Vanderbilt University before abandoning it to attend film school in London. Since graduating, he has worked his way up from music videos to commercials for Heinz ketchup and French Connection, but he always had his sights set on the movies.
Here, Jones talks about his iconic father, past loves and forging his own path.
THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE: The palpable theme of loneliness in “Moon” isn’t just a product of Rockwell’s skilled acting chops. When he was writing an initial treatment of the movie, Jones was in the midst of a long-distance relationship and it clearly had an impact. “She was on the other side of the world and you know the whole feeling that you get, the paranoia and wondering whether they’ve forgotten about you — those are all the sort of feelings that I was having at the time. I wanted to put them in the film,” he explains.
NAME GAME: Being Ziggy Stardust’s son has its perks. For one, Jones spent time on the set of the 1986 film “Labyrinth” and even got to play a goblin in one scene. But the budding director (who goes by his father’s real surname) has always strived to ascend on his own terms. “You’ve gotta earn your way up. That is one thing I have always wanted to do. I don’t want to use my dad’s name like a club,” he says. “I know there are a lot of kids that are born into a similar position to me who have.”
UP NEXT: Jones is already at work on his second feature, a sci-fi project he describes as “kind of a big-city film. It takes place in future Berlin. It’s kind of like my ‘Bladerunner.’”