Okay, I’ll admit that musicians aren’t necessarily the best actors (hell, a lot of actors aren’t always the best actors), but that doesn’t change the fact that it can be a lot of fun when they surprise us in movies. Lars Ulrich did this recently when he appeared in Get Him to the Greek and that’s what motivated me to come up with this list. Unfortunately, Ulrich didn’t make the cut, and neither did Jared Leto (for all you Leto-lovers out there), who was an actor before he started wearing too much eyeliner and holding a guitar while yelling.
Keep in mind that this isn’t technically a list of “cameos” because some of them have actual roles, but you’re not allowed to complain because the title uses the word “appearances.” They’re ranked by a mixture of surprise factor, performance, film quality, and which movies my dog likes the most (mostly that last one).
5. Flea in The Big Lebowski
Youtube being what it is, I wasn’t able to find any good videos of Flea’s scenes, but if you pause this video at 48 seconds you’ll be able to check him out. See that little guy on the far right? He might not look like much, but that’s 5’6″ of pure musical talent. Yes, the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers has about 28 total seconds of screen time, but it’s just enough for us to hear him say “Ya, odervise ve kill de girl” in a horrendous German accent and shortly thereafter get nailed in the stomach with a bowling ball. It’s not much, but let’s be honest, 28 seconds is a lot more attention than bassists normally get.
4. Billy Idol in The Wedding Singer
I find that the less popular the movie, the easier it is to find clips from said movie on Youtube. So let’s just say there was plenty to choose from when it came to The Wedding Singer. But at least it means you actually get to watch the appearance! Actually, as far as cameos go, this is a pretty good one, especially for a rock star. Billy Idol does a pretty good job in his role as Billy Idol — the smooth talking, down-to-earth celebrity with overactive eyebrows, especially considering he had to do that whole scene with a champagne bottle glued to his hand. Ah, the sacrifices some make for art. Enjoy the clip, but try not to look directly at Adam Sandler’s Jericurl mullet. You might go blind.
3. David Bowie in The Prestige
It was pretty obvious that David Bowie was going to make this list. As far as rock stars go, he’s been in the most films and is, to be honest, probably the most talented actor of the bunch. The tough part was trying to decide which appearance is his personal best. Between films like Labrynth, The Last Temptation of Christ, Zoolander, The Prestige, and SpongeBob’s Atlantis SquarePantis, it was a really tough decision. But I had to go with The Prestige. Why? Well, for one, I haven’t seen a lot of the other movies, but mostly it was the terrible Russian accent coming from the hole underneath that awesome ‘stache. And I fall in love all over again every time he says “Hold out other hand.” *swoon*
2. Bruce Springsteen in High Fidelity
At this point you might be thinking to yourself, “Why is a John Cusack movie ranked so high on this list?” Well partly because of this, but also because of the above cameo. You’d expect some surprise visits from musicians in a movie almost entirely about one dude’s obsession with music, but Bruce Springsteen literally comes out of nowhere. In fact, he’s a figment of John Cusack’s imagination, which makes it even more literal. The performance itself is a little rough (you can tell that someone had to tell him to “slow down” and to “try not to mumble” and “stop noodling” between takes), but star factor is enough to give The Boss a silver medal in this competition.
1. Meatloaf in Fight Club
If there’s one way you can tell I didn’t rank these appearances in order of musical ability, it’s that Meatloaf has highest spot on the list (though I’m not sure he’d make the list at all if we were using that system). Musical abilities aside, Fight Club allowed Meatloaf to step away from his everyday life of being a fat guy with giant man-tits in order to play a fat guy with giant man-tits and no testicles. Seriously though, Meatloaf does a fantastic job and has, by far, the largest role of any rock star had in a must-see film. On top of that, he even has a decent performance. I guess that would earn him the top spot on this list.
His name is Robert Paulson…His name is Robert Paulson…His name is Robert Paulson…