July 1, 2022
Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, ASC embraces the opportunity to craft a layered visual language for Showtime’s science-fiction series The Man Who Fell to Earth.
After years of shooting television dramas like Snowfall and Empire, cinematographer Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, ASC longed for a project that explored the mysterious and fantastic realms of science fiction, as he was a longtime fan of the genre. In the fall of 2020, he met with writer-producer Alex Kurtzman about the series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and the two immediately hit it off. But, instead of Star Trek, the job that came out of the meeting was a passion project Kurtzman and writer Jenny Lumet had been developing based on Walter Tevis’ 1963 sci-fi novel, The Man Who Fell to Earth, which had been previously adapted into the acclaimed 1976 film directed by Nicolas Roeg, shot by Anthony B. Richmond, ASC, BSC, and starring the iconic David Bowie.
Maddox-Upshaw connected with Kurtzman and Lumet’s take on the material and their choice to make the lead characters Faraday (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Justin Falls (Naomie Harris) both Black. “I thought that Alex and Jenny did a great job of writing and putting these Black people in the sci-fi space in quite a beautiful way that followed in the steps of Bowie, who was a very worldly person,” the cinematographer says.