Credit: YouTube

From David Bowie to Tom Waits: 10 best unusual cameos from musicians

To be gifted in one art form is usually enough to keep most people sated. However, as we have seen so often within popular culture, sometimes musicians like to chance their arm at acting. Perhaps wrongly seen as a slightly easier vocation in comparison to crafting music, many, many rock stars have jumped on to the silver screen in the hope of igniting a new passion. While landing a major role is all well and good, more than likely, most chances afforded to musicians are bit-part performances.

That means, littered through some of our favourite films are some of our favourite musicians too. However, given the nature of their roles, it is very easy to miss their appearances. So, below, we’re bringing you our ten favourite cameos from musicians.

Usually, when giving out an acting role to an esteemed musician, the first thought is how the producers can shoehorn in some music from that artist. Not only will it keep the musician happy and add a few dollars into their bank accounts, but it will also guarantee a few more audience members from their fanbase. That said, we’re not concerning ourselves with those landmark musical biopic performances, nor the moments those bands and singers deliver showstopping songs. We want the real blood, sweat and tears of a random cameo.

Some of the artists included in our list went on to have notable film careers while others ended their love affair with the silver screen after just one go. Whether it became a part of their career or just a note on their CV, these are the best performances from musicians in films.

Below, check out our ten favourite cameos from musicians.

10 best movie cameos from musicians:

David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)

David Bowie has enjoyed many moments on screen as the main man. Whether it was in the brilliant Nicolas Roeg film The Man Who Fell To Earth or, later, as the Goblin King Jareth in Labirynth, Bowie usually commands the starring role, in his defence, he is undoubtedly the most spectacular role in Ben Stiller’s 2001 comedy Zoolander too.

One crucial moment in the cameo-heavy film comes when Stiller’s character Derek Zoolander, takes on Owen Wilson’s character Hansel in a runway walk-off. It’s a piece of irreverence that would have undoubtedly pleased the most memorable man on the cast list.

Phil Collins – Hook (1992)

One of Steven Spielberg’s finest piece of cinema, 1992’s Hook is a much-beloved piece of film legend. Not only does it feature the incredible Robin William and Dustin Hoffman as part of the ensemble, but also sees several guest spots for your favourite rock stars too.

Musicians Jimmy Buffet and David Crosby appear in the film as some of Captain Hook’s pirates, but Phil Collins takes the starring role. The former Genesis drummer appears as a detective charged with trying to find Peter Pan’s missing children.

George Harrison – Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

It’s been well-documented that George Harrison, despite his moniker as the ‘Quiet Beatle’, loved to laugh. Never far away from a sarcastic comment, the guitarist and songwriter became involved with the Monty Python team at an early moment in their career. When the comedy troupe tried to have a film made, there was only one man to talk to.

The film was eventually produced by HandMade Films, Harrison’s company and, as recompense, the producers made sure to grant Harrison a brief cameo in the film. Given one word of dialogue, Harrison shines as Mr Papadopoulos, the owner of the mount.

Tom Waits – Mystery Men (1999)

Tom Waits, much like David Bowie, has found himself in the middle of many feature films in his time. The gravel-toned singer has found spots in The Book of Eli, Seven Psychopaths and the recent Ballad of Buster Scruggs as opportunities to stretch his acting muscles. But he also appeared in 1999’s Mystery Men.

In the fantasy comedy flick, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of a group of would-be superheroes, Waits plays Dr A. Heller and excitable inventor of weapons and other dangerous deeds. It’s a moment on the screen that can often pass you by but is still a vital piece of the puzzle.

Flea & Aimee Mann in The Big Lebowski (1998)

As with Tom Waits and David Bowie, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea has never been one to turn his back on the screen. The bassist even appears alongside Aimee Mann in one of the most culturally relevant films of all time — the Coen Brother’s seminal piece The Big Lebowski. Flea and Mann take on the roles of nihilistic Germans and play them with aplomb.

Working in acting since 1984, Flea has amassed over 20 film credits to his name including roles in Back to the Future II, Baby Driver, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and even Toy Story 4.

Blink-182 – American Pie (1999)

Some cameos were just written in the stars and the moment blink-182 appeared on our screens while watching American Pie is about as perfect as it gets. The crass teen comedy relied heavily on the same toilet humour that had seen the Californian pop-punk band become global heroes.

Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker (though credited as previous drummer Scott Raynor) show up after their band practice stream is interrupted with a video of main protagonists Jim and Nadia getting it on.

Anthony Kiedis – Point Break (1991)

Another Chili Pepper makes our list as the band’s lead singer, Anthony Kiedis, can also boast a few film credits to his name. An L.A. native, it seems only fair that the Hollywood bug bites him. Kiedis’ role seems a little more within his wheelhouse though as he took up a scene or two in 1991’s Point Break.

The ’90s cult classic has become a cherished piece of Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze’s iconography. Kiedis, whose father Blackie Dammett was also an actor, portrays Malibu surfer Tone in the film, taunting Reeves’ character until a brawl breaks out.

Jarvis Cocker – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Some cameos are a little easier to pull off than others, and we’re pretty sure when Jarvis Cocker, the famed lead singer of Britpop royalty Pulp, was asked to be in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire he was relieved to see the description of his character.

Cocker plays Myron Wagtail, a lead singer of the band The Weird Sisters. Not so far out of Cocker’s own wheelhouse he undoubtedly pleased a large section of his family with the warm and cuddly appearance. The band also featured Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, and Cocker later admitted the opportunity to impress his nieces and nephews was too big to turn down.

Billy Ray Cyrus – Mulholland Drive (2001)

One of the more curious collaborations on this list comes from the ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ singer and father to Miley Cyrus, the great Billy Ray Cyrus and his appearance in the surrealist genius David Lynch’s most cherished film — Mullholland Drive. Lynchian films aren’t exactly the first place one thinks of when placing a country star in a brief cameo.

Cyrus takes on the role of an adulterer who is caught having an affair with director Adam Kesher’s (played by Justin Theroux) wife. Of course, Cyrus would also take on a role in his daughter’s Disney show Hannah Montana but we can imagine his acting credits will ever get better than this one.

Tom Petty in The Postman (1997)

The late, great Tom Petty is also one rock star who enjoyed a trip to the silver screen every so often. The Heartbreakers frontman took on a role as part of Kevin Costner’s flop The Postman. Costner operates in the lead role with Petty taking on the role of the Mayor of Bridge City, a place for survivors to escape the apocalyptic scenes outside.

The film was set in 2013 and reimagined the classic western in a new apocalyptic guise. It’s certainly one film Costner would prefer to forget but remains one of our favourite cameos thanks to Petty’s straighter than straight face throughout.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Delivering curated content