In art history, the film and musical realms have crossed over countless times and, now, it feels almost impossible to view one without the other. A movie without music would feel hollow, as would music without a video or a visualiser, owing to the internet and the fact that in the contemporary world, we seem glued to our pocket-sized screens for everything. The audio and the visual have long had a symbiotic nature, and it will endure ad infinitum.
However, if we were to take this sentiment and scratch beneath the surface further, you heed quickly that the relationship between film and music is not concerned with the obvious level; there are also many different offshoots, including the case of actors becoming musicians and musicians becoming actors.
However, on occasion, there’s the happy middle ground. This is when musicians deliver brilliant cameos for movies, helping to give a brilliant comedic edge and a piece of fan service to those in the audience who are perceptive enough. Whether it be George Harrison in The Life of Brian, Blink 182 in American Pie, or even the entire grunge scene in Cameron Crowe’s Singles; cinema would be a lot less of an enjoyable place if it wasn’t for our favourite musicians popping up sporadically in movies.
The most iconic cameo by a musician in a movie has to be Billy Idol’s four minutes of screen time that he is granted during the 1998 romantic comedy, The Wedding Singer. One of the highlights of Adam Sandler’s most prolific period, The Wedding Singer is one of the more enjoyable entries in the New York native’s filmography, owing to the surreal narrative, his character Robbie Hart, and Billy Idol’s star turn at the end.
Idol, playing himself, is amongst the rest of the passengers on the plane who convince Robbie to give it one last shot at winning Julia’s heart. Idol tells Robbie that his love rival, Glenn, “doesn’t deserve her”, and being the punk icon he is, he explains with gusto: “All he cares about are possessions. Fancy cards, CD players, even women are possessions to him”.
Robbie responds, “See Billy Idol gets it, I don’t know why she doesn’t get it?”. The conversation with Idol gives him the confidence required to realise that he’s better than the yuppie Glenn (it is set in 1985) and that he is in with a shot of reconciling with Julia.
The most memorable part of the cameo, however, arrives when the air hostess interrupts the conversation, explaining that Glenn has just boorishly asked her to be a part of the ‘Mile High Club’. The nice old lady, who is also part of the group offering Robbie advice, innocently asks: “What’s the Mile High Club?” before Idol gives her a cheeky smirk that had not been seen since his Generation X days, and is very suggestive of his once rock ‘n’ roll behaviour. There’s also the innuendo made over the tannoy about letting first-class passengers “do what they want”, which is also accompanied by a rather filthy smirk.
A star turn, showing he’s not a one-dimensional rocker, it’s arguable that the appearance in The Wedding Singer is one of Billy Idol’s best moments. Comedic and timed to perfection, it’s a shame Billy Idol hasn’t entered the world of cinema with more regularity. It makes us wonder just what his version of the dastardly T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day would’ve looked like.
Watch Billy Idol’s cameo in The Wedding Singer below.