The 59-year-old actor appeared in the SNL skit opposite Bowie in 1991, with Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin serving as host.
During an episode of the Fly on the Wall podcast, Spade said he had been playing the role of a receptionist that “stops you because he thinks they’re better than you,” and he envisioned Bowie making a cameo as himself.
Since the late singer wasn’t at the pitch meeting to hear the idea, Spade tried calling Bowie at his hotel.
“I called him and he answers and it’s f***ing Bowie,” he remembered. “And he’s like, ‘This [sketch] is so f***ing funny. This is exactly my life and these people I see.’
“And he goes, ‘One tweak: Can I play the receptionist? … That’s the funnier part.’”
Bowie apparently responded by saying that playing himself was “boring” and suggested that Spade and him should swap roles. However, Spade turned down the request.
The Grown Ups star said he still couldn’t believe he turned down a suggestion from Bowie, who apparently persisted and told him: “Well, what if the sketch never gets on [the show]?”
Spade clarified that Bowie wasn’t being rude about the skit, but just believed that it would be more fun to play someone other than himself.
He also revealed that Bowie later apologised for questioning their respective roles after the episode aired.
“He was like, ‘Hey, sorry, man … I get what was going on and I shouldn’t have been a little chilly about it,’” Spade said.
Bowie died at his home on Lafayette Street, New York, in 2016, around 18 months after being diagnosed with liver cancer.