The Color of Money holds a number of distinctions within film history. For one, it’s the only competitive Acadamy Award ever won by Paul Newman, the screen legend who had garnered six nominations for Best Actor up to that point with no wins. It’s also a rare attempt at a sports movie from Martin Scorsese, which isn’t that strange considering Scorsese’s usual oeuvre but stands out among his 24 other directorial efforts.
What The Color of Money is best remembered for these days is the on-screen passing of the torch between Newman and his co-star, Tom Cruise. Cruise was 24 and had already seen the release of major hits like Top Gun and Risky Business, but his true crowning moment as the superstar of his generation came when Newman hand-picked Cruise to be his successor.
A flurry of faces and names flies by the two stars throughout the film. Cruise is actually only the third most important character in the narrative of The Color of Money – his female co-star, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, actually does most of the dramatic heavy lifting between the two of them, earning an Oscar nomination for her troubles. Also in the mix is a young Forest Whitaker, who hustles Newman’s classic hustler “Fast” Eddie Felson at his own game.
Even a young John Turturro shows up as Felson’s co-conspirator Julian. But there’s a blink and you’ll miss it cameo from one of rock’s greatest survivors in the film. While Newman and Cruise’s characters are building up cash in anticipation of an upcoming tournament in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Cruise takes some cash off an unsuspecting bar fly played by none other than Iggy Pop.
Pop is only on screen for about ten seconds total, but he’s impossible to miss once you recognise him. He’s only credited as “Skinny Player on Road” in the film’s credits, but he probably could have been playing himself and it wouldn’t have made any difference. Pop doesn’t actually have any speaking lines in the film, and his most notable contribution comes when he’s about to take a shot of liquor before Cruise’s character takes it for himself.
Iggy Pop’s IMDb is a wild walkthrough, and the former Stooges frontman has carved out quite a nice niche for himself as a character actor when he’s not performing on stage. Appearing in everything from the John Waters film Cry-Baby to the family-friendly Snow Day to a pair of Jim Jarmush films, Dead Man and Coffee and Cigarettes, Pop has quite the resume on film nowadays.