DC's Legends of Tomorrow's Thomas Nicholson On 'Humanizing' David Bowie (Exclusive)

By Liam Crowley Updated:
Thomas Nicholson David Bowie DC Legends of Tomorrow

Even with five complete seasons under its belt, DC's Legends of Tomorrow has remained a staple of the fan-favorite Arrowverse on The CW.

The time-traveling ensemble unites the unlikeliest of heroes as they embark on adventures throughout history. The roster has ranged far and wide, plucking auxiliary characters from other Arrowverse shows into its lineup, like Caity Lotz's White Canary from Arrow and Victor Garber's Firestorm from The Flash. Most impressively, Legends of Tomorrow brought Matt Ryan's Constantine into the fold after his self-titled series was canceled after just one season on NBC.

Legends of Tomorrow

While the popular comic book characters are what brings viewers in, Legends of Tomorrow has the unique ability to integrate familiar faces from history into its episodes. Everyone, ranging from notorious gangster Al Capone to a young George Lucas has popped up in the show, whether it be for a brief cameo or to assist the squad for the full runtime.

Season six continued this trend by bringing in legendary musician and actor David Bowie in the big season premiere. "Ground Control to Sara Lance" introduced Thomas Nicholson's take on Ziggy Stardust, who point the Legends in the right direction regarding Sara Lance's abduction.


David Bowie Legends of Tomorrow

"Take your protein pills and put your helmet on."

Speaking in an exclusive interview with TheDirect.com, Thomas Nicholson detailed his experience on the Legends of Tomorrow set. Nicholson praised what The CW's comic book programming brings to the table, but especially applauded what Legends contributes.

"Oh man, it’s so much fun. I find especially a show like Legends of Tomorrow specifically, it’s such a wacky show that just nothing is off limits. Time-traveling, aliens, clones, it’s just so unpredictable. All those shows film in Vancouver where I’m based, so it’s just fun to be part of that."

With a television universe that spans seven shows, six still active, and hundreds of deeply established characters, being the new guy in this wild world can be intimidating. Fortunately for Nicholson, the Legends crew was anything but.

"I felt very, very welcomed. It’s funny, the [premiere] episode, we shot everything that I was involved in was the first day back on set for the production since the pandemic lockdown. Everyone was like, just really glad that we were just able to work, period. I was very much welcomed into that.

"Kevin Mock who directed the episode who’s been on the show for years and years, he was great. He contacted me a few days ahead of shooting, like, 'Any questions, just feel free.' He was just very generous with his time. I found Jess [Macallan] who plays Ava [Sharpe] was just really encouraging and also obviously really glad to be back on set, but also yeah. I don’t know. They were all just really good at bringing me into the [fold]. Like, it wasn’t just a clique that I was outside of. I felt very much apart of the team."

Nicholson had the unique experience of playing a real-life musician in a fictional show. While the main cast will turn to comic book source material for inspiration and research, Nicholson had hours and hours of Bowie footage just a YouTube search away. The actor went above and beyond when it came to his Bowie research, noting he found he was able to "humanize" such a larger-than-life presence.

"I did the predictable stuff of looking at a ton of interviews, especially from that era, just to learn accent, mannerisms, and try to recapture some form of a David Bowie singing voice as well. That was like, as far as the technical goes, that was super, super helpful. And then I found because it is this rock legend, and I’m a huge fan, been a huge fan for forever, just to sort of humanize him a little bit, I actually started writing a list of all these things we have in common. Like, we’re left-handed. We love cats. All these things that aren’t really important, but I could really ground myself more in the performance with that. And that also helped me to yes do my best with the mannerisms and the accents and all that, but still be kind of loose and have fun because it’s also a David Bowie having fun. It’s not the gritty biopic, and he’s struggling through life. It’s David Bowie having a good time trying to write a good song."

While a big priority is being true to the man himself, every actor wants to make each character they portray their own. Nicholson was able to make his own ch-ch-changes to the characterized version of Bowie due to their surprising similarities.

"I found bits and pieces of that in my audition, or in preparation for my audition. I think I started with the mimicry actually, just to get a feel of like, ‘Can I actually do this? Am I an actor who can play this role?’ And then once I was really aware that I wanted to do something that wasn’t just mimicry I was working with an acting coach actually, and the thing that really helped me was figuring out what I wanted as David Bowie. Why am I there? Why am I chatting to these people? You want to write the best song you can write. I felt like, ‘Oh, I can relate to that!’ Not that I’m a songwriter, but in that whatever your vocation is you want to do the best job you can. That sort of help me not get stuck in some sort of robotic Bowie imitation thing, and add my own whatever flavor. Maybe a little bit of a spacey version of David Bowie that feels appropriate to the show as well."

Nicholson's Legends debut was his first appearance in a comic book project, but he was obviously not portraying a comic book character. When asked about taking on a superhero role, Nicholson pointed to Amazon Prime's The Boys as a show he'd love to work on.

"I really enjoy [The Boys]. It’s a very dark sense of humor, but it’s right up my alley in terms of the sense of humor. I think some superhero shows, especially as they go on for years and as the characters are known from comic books, they risk getting predictable. I feel like for me at least, The Boys is still wildly unpredictable. I really enjoy that. I enjoy watching a show that I don’t know what’s going to happen next."

Outside of Legends of Tomorrow, Thomas Nicholson can be seen in this summer's Motherland: Fort Salem as well as the web series Trigger Me. As for if he'll be back on The CW's superhero ensemble series, Nicholson says fans will have to just keep watching.

The next episode of Legends of Tomorrow airs this Sunday, June 20 on The CW at 8pm ET.

- About The Author: Liam Crowley

MCU Writer, Editor, Podcaster