Picks and Pans Review: Spotlight On...
THE ART OF BEING ANDY
IT HAS BEEN NEARLY A DECADE SINCE his death, but Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame continue to stretch into hours, at least on the screen. First, in Oliver Stone’s 1991 The Doors, there was Crispin Glover doing a fleeting turn as a freakish, lip-licking Warhol all aflutter at meeting Jim Morrison. Last spring the master of pop art popped up again when Jared Harris played him in I Shot Andy Warhol, a drama about Valerie Solanas, a Warhol hanger-on who shot and almost killed the artist in 1968. Harris’s Warhol was a nervous, withdrawn, flighty genius. “I was trying to do him so people who knew him would miss him once they saw him,” says Harris, who prepared by watching film footage of Warhol. “I was not trying to do a hatchet job or satirize him.”
Now Warhol is back in movie theaters, this time played by rocker David Bowie in Basquiat, a new film biography of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Bowie’s Warhol is more self-aware, well-spoken and effeminate than the others.
So which screen Warhol comes closest to the real thing? Director Paul Morrissey, who made many of the movies that Warhol produced, says, “Bowie was the best by far. You come away from Basquiat thinking Andy was comical and amusing, not a pretentious, phony piece of s—t, which is how the others show him.” But writer Bob Colacello, who edited Warhol’s Interview magazine from 1970 to ’83, says each actor had his Andy moments. “Glover walked the most like Andy, Harris talked the most like Andy, and Bowie looked the most like Andy,” says Colacello. “When I first saw Bowie on the set, it was like Andy had been resurrected.”
To be fair, Bowie had a big advantage: He borrowed—and wore—Warhol’s actual wigs, glasses and leather jacket from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. And, as Morrissey notes, “David Bowie at least knew Andy. They went to the same parties.”