Justin Bieber has unveiled his interpretation of James Dean’s iconic moment from the late actor’s 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause.
On Saturday the Canadian superstar hit Instagram to post a black and white snap of himself wearing a classic white T-shirt, gold watch, and with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth — although he stressed to fans that he doesn’t smoke them.
“This is James Dean inspired. Don’t ask me if I smoke ciggys cuz I don’t,” Justin captioned the snap.
Incidentally, Brit actor Robert Pattinson is currently in Toronto filming Anton Corbijn’s movie Life, which tells the story of Dean through the eyes of noted Life photographer Dennis Stock played by Pattinson.
The 20-year-old’s latest homage Instagram follows three previous images he uploaded after what may have been a random photoshoot for kicks. Whether Justin actually has an affinity for Dean’s glorious but troubled, short blaze through life or was inspired by the new movie in town isn’t clear, but here’s the picture.
Did Bieber nail it? In the photo, the “Confident” star is seen resting against a brick wall, his white T-shirt exposing a sleeve of tattoos on his left arm.
Young Canada affects the same far-distance expression on his face as Dean’s, but unlike the original shot his cigarette is unlit.
59 years after his untimely death from reckless speeding, Dean remains a cultural icon of disaffected youth — unsure quite what it’s angry at, but angry nevertheless. Just three films established Dean’s place in history — Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden(also 1955) and Giant (1956) — for which the eternally 24-years-old actor received a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Former teen icon Bieber turned 20 on March 1, when he bid goodbye to teenhood. Despite his struggles in transitioning to adulthood, which in some respects echoes Dean’s searching, troubled angst, the singer has undeniably already made his mark on history.
Discovered six years by then and now manager Scooter Braun on YouTube back in 2007, from there the latter half of Bieber’s breakout My World EP — My World 2.0 — topped the Billboard 200 album chart in March 2010, in so doing becoming the youngest solo singer to debut in the number one slot since Stevie Wonder in 1963.
In 2011, he made the cover of Forbes magazine at 17-years-old and was named the third most powerful celebrity. In 2012, tickets for Bieber’s Madison Square Garden November 28-29 concerts sold out in 30 seconds flat, while the entire US and North American leg of his Believe world tour sold out within one hour.
By early 2013 with the release of his Believe Acoustic album, the singer became the first artist to punch five No. 1 albums before the age of 19.
He is the star of Never Say Never, to date the highest-grossing concert-movie in US history. Bieber’s signature 2010 song “Baby” is the highest certified digital single in US history and was awarded the Diamond Award by the Recording Industry Association of America back in May 2013.
The singer is also the first artist to achieve one billion views on the Vevo. The record was set in February 2014 with the “Baby” music video.
While Bieber’s 2013-14 headlines have naturally focused on his confused missteps and teen acts of recklessness, once his legal cases resolve — if he’s wise — he’ll seize the chance to return to his artistry with full focus and fulfil even more of his potential.
As amazing as Dean was, his premature death on September 30, 1955, cut short a firebrand career that could have encompassed more roles and even more greatness. While some find young, celebrity deaths compelling, we would have preferred to see Dean grow older, better and more content with age — as we also hope for Bieber.
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