Danny Boyle met David Bowie to make a personal plea to the reclusive star to take part in the Olympics opening ceremony.
The filmmaker included Bowie’s songs Starman and Heroes and a clip of his 1976 film, The Man Who Fell To Earth, in the ceremony which was seen by millions of people around the world.
But Bowie did not appear at the event which included performances by Sir Paul McCartney and Mike Oldfield.
He has not performed live since 2006 and has rarely been seen in public since then, leading to rumours of possible ill-health which have been denied by his spokesman.
Recent photographs showed the singer in New York, where he lives with his wife, former model Iman, and their daughter.
Boyle said: “I went to meet David Bowie and he didn’t want to appear, he didn’t want to perform, he wasn’t into that performing live, but he gave us all the support we needed, which was a big buzz for me because he is one of my heroes.”
Speaking on the director’s commentary of the BBC’s Olympic DVD, Boyle also said he had an “extraordinary meeting” with former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon about the use of their song Pretty Vacant in the ceremony.
He said: “I have to say he was amazing, actually, because he wanted to know how it’s going to be used and he wanted to know it wasn’t going to be messed about with and dealt with properly, and he wanted to know the sequences properly and this surprised me about him. I think he’s a very sensitive guy.”
Boyle also revealed he included a photograph of his late father, Frank, in the ceremony as a tribute.
It appeared during a montage made up of friends and relatives of people who were at the ceremony.
The Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire director said of his father: “July 27, the day of the ceremony, was his birthday and he died sadly 18 months before, but he was a mad Olympics fan and he is one of the reasons I did the job.”
The five-disc DVD is released on Monday and includes sporting highlights as well as the ceremonies that opened and closed the games.