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Bill Nighy to lead ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ reboot

The BAFTA winner will take over the role made famous by David Bowie

By Joe Goggins

Bill Nighy and David Bowie in 'The Man Who Fell To Earth'
Bill Nighy and David Bowie in 'The Man Who Fell To Earth'

Bill Nighy has been confirmed to play the lead role in the upcoming reboot of ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’.

Based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, the original film adaptation – released in 1976 – saw David Bowie memorably play the flame-haired Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien undercover on earth posing as a human in a bid to save his home planet.

A new TV series, which will see the original’s plot continued, has been in development for some time, hopping networks in the process; originally a Hulu show, it moved to CBS in 2019 and then its current home of Showtime two years later. Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet will serve as showrunners on the series, which will see Chiwetel Ejiofor’s as-yet-unnamed character arriving on earth at a pivotal moment in human history.

Yesterday (February 3), Deadline reported that Nighy will play Newton, joining an intriguing cast that includes Ejiofor, Rob Delaney, Jimmi Simpson, Kate Mulgrew and Clarke Peters. Naomie Harris, with who Nighy worked on ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End’, is also attached.

“I was honoured to be invited to play the part of Thomas Jerome Newton that glorious David Bowie made so famous,” Nighy told Deadline. “I was keen to work with Chiwetel and Naomie again. I think the story is terrific and brilliantly expressed. I am an enthusiast for shows which extrapolate from current technology and give us plausible glimpses of a possible near future.”

“It’s an important story which, as well as being highly entertaining, discusses the crucial issues of our time,” Nighy went on. “I like to think that the film makers of the original film would applaud Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet for their imaginative daring and loyal regard.”

The original ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ reached new audiences recently when it screened in London at the BFI, as part of their retrospective of Bowie’s screen work, ‘Bowie: Starman and the Silver Screen’. Other titles in the programme included ‘Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence’, ‘Christiane F.’ and ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’.