It’s nothing new for actors to want to be musicians and musicians to want to be actors. Unfortunately, few do both well (Donald Glover/Childish Gambino is one of the rare exceptions).
Thankfully, rock stars and rappers can still get their fill of the Hollywood life by popping up (often unexpectedly) in movies and TV shows. Here are 10 of the best film cameos by musicians.
10. Mastodon — Game of Thrones
Without spoiling too much of the just-finished season of HBO’s hit show, there was a scene toward the end of the season that most of Westeros’ fans had been waiting for since the first time they heard the words “Winter is coming.” Hidden among the masses of Wildlings in that scene were all four members of Atlanta-based metal band Mastodon. Sure, they might not stand out from the crowd too much (Wildlings happen to look a lot like most metal bands), but if you know when to look for them, you can totally see them.
9. Kanye West — Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
There was almost a temptation to put Kanye’s brief cameo in The Love Guru instead, solely for the reason that virtually no one saw that movie and even fewer would remember that Kanye was in it. Anchorman 2 won out, because although the movie was guaranteed to be loaded with cameos, none of them were as memorable as Yeezy (except maybe Harrison Ford turning into a werewolf). Was the fight scene over-the-top, gratuitous, and way too drawn-out? Absolutely, but it’s totally worth it to squeeze a handful of awesome cameos into the movie, including Kanye as the host of MTV News.
8. Stevie Nicks — American Horror Story: Coven
When Nicks’ name was first mentioned on the third season of FX’s supernatural horror series (before it became a slightly gorier version of Glee), it seemed like an amazing pop culture reference to one of music’s most famous “witches.” When Nicks actually appeared, it was clear this was more than just an appropriate reference, but actually a perfect fit. The Fleetwood Mac singer played herself (as a witch), and even performed a bit of music, but the real showstopper was that shawl and the twirling that goes with it.
7. Jack White — Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Sure, Dewey Cox was full of hilarious music references and great cameos, but were any of them as perfect as Jack White as Elvis? Nope, they weren’t. White’s obviously an Elvis fan (he anonymously bought and re-released the King’s first recording), and his minute of screen time might be the best part of the entire movie. Is White the best Elvis impersonator ever? Probably not, but he may be the most entertaining (and musically talented) Elvis to appear in a recent movie.
6. Blink-182 — American Pie
Not only did Blink-182 contribute a song (“Mutt”) to American Pie’s soundtrack, but they were also the highlight of one of the movie’s most memorable scenes. Having the band sit around a computer and express their interest and then disappointment in Jim’s “inadequacies” would’ve been good enough for most movies, but American Pie took it a step further. The band appears with a small monkey for little to no reason other than sheer entertainment value. Had the cameo contained some inappropriate banter between Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge (back when DeLonge was still in the band), this could’ve ranked way higher.
5. David Bowie — Zoolander
It’s kind of a no-brainer who would be the perfect classic rock star to judge an underground men’s fashion model walk-off. There’s really only one man for the job, and Zoolander knew exactly who that was. Bowie didn’t actually have much judging to do (Hansel’s unforgettable final move sealed the deal), but had it been a tight contest left in the hands of the judge, it seems pretty certain that Bowie would make the right call.
4. Keith Richards — Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Who looks like enough of an old pirate in real life that no one would think twice about him as Captain Teague (Jack Sparrow’s father)? One of the most famous guitarists in history, duh. The Rolling Stones icon fits into the role so well that you’d believe he was just another actor in costume if you didn’t know his leathery face from a mile away. It’s not just the look though, Richards’ painfully casual and somewhat-delayed delivery is also a perfect match for what we assume Captain Jack’s pops would sound and act like.
3. Johnny Cash — The Simpsons
The Simpsons has never been short on music cameos. R.E.M., the White Stripes, Paul McCartney, Cypress Hill, and many more have all graced the show. Johnny Cash doesn’t actually appear as an animated version of himself in his classic Simpsons moment, which makes it all the better. In one of the best Simpsons episodes ever, “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer” (you know, the one where Homer eats the Guatemalan insanity peppers), the man in black voices a coyote that leads Homer along his trippy vision quest to find himself and figure out his life. Does anything really get resolved? Of course not, but it’s a fantastic episode and a better music cameo.
2. Alanis Morissette — Dogma
Morissette isn’t the only person to ever play God (Morgan Freeman could be God anytime), but she’s almost definitely got the best musician cameo for the role. Just when you thought the mysteriously silent cameo couldn’t get any cooler, Morissette shows her divine power of destroying disobedient angels’ heads with only her voice. Well before the new wave of feminism was pushing for more powerful women in movies (as opposed to ones running away from dinosaurs while wearing high heels), Kevin Smith decided that some of the most awesome and understated godly characters in recent history should be women, and the silent but charismatic Morissette leads the charge.
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1. Alice Cooper — Wayne’s World
Really though, there are very few cameos from musicians or otherwise that can live up to the greatness of Alice Cooper in Wayne’s World. Without Cooper, Wayne’s World would still be an excellent movie, but where a movie like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure fell short by not including Eddie Van Halen in the flesh, Wayne’s World maximized its rock star potential with one of the most legendary scenes in music/movie history. Sure, the music of Jimi Hendrix and Queen both add iconic moments to the film as well, but Mike Myers and Dana Carvey solidified their spots in rock ’n’ roll history when they encountered the Arizona-based rocker. Suffice to say that when it comes to the epicness of this cameo, none of us are worthy.
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