Legendary singer-songwriter Prince was much more than just a musician. His talents stretched to include most facets of the performing arts and his aptitude in experimentalism and conceptual art was worthy of note. His interest in cinema was apparent throughout his career and he was never far from a director’s radar when looking to spice up their production. After his breakthrough in the late 1970s, Prince would make it very clear that he set his sights on making it big on the screen as well as on the radio. Despite his fame, he only managed to appear on music videos and occasional TV performances in the early 1980s.
With his ambitions at heart, he looked to produce a film to accompany his sixth studio album Purple Rain. The conceptual material was adapted into a musical drama film of the same name which starred Prince as ‘The Kid’ and told a loosely autobiographical tale as the troubled character deals with the strains of leading his struggling band ‘The Revolution’ through the clubs of Minneapolis. The film was a major success for Prince and earned him the Academy Award for the Best Original Song. The album was a commercial success as well, buoyed by hit number one singles ‘When Doves Cry’ and ‘Let’s Go Crazy’.
Over the next thirty years, Prince would make a number of cameos on TV shows and regularly focussed his musical work with a visual aspect in mind; his 1989 album Batman, made for the film of the same name, being one of the more impressive examples of this.
One of the final and most memorable TV appearances for Prince was his performance in an episode of New Girl. It was his first appearance in a TV acting role since his appearance in Muppets Tonight in 1997. Initially asked to appear on new girl
The creators of New Girl originally approached Prince in 2010 requesting his appearance in the second series episode entitled ‘Virgins’, but to the misfortune of his fans, he turned it down. Three years down the line, ‘New Girl’ had drawn in a wider following and they had secured the popular post-Super Bowl time slot that would draw large viewing figures. For this episode, the creators of the sitcom would have to pull something extra special out of the bag. It was around this time that Prince approached the creators asking about the possibility of appearing on the show. After his previous decline, they thought he was joking, but Prince stayed earnest to his word and explained that he was a huge fan of the show.
With this dynamite in their arsenal, they decided to write an episode made specifically for the pop-star entitling it ‘Prince’. After hearing that the episode was going to be created with him in mind, Prince became involved with the scriptwriting and suggested the idea of giving Jess a makeover, and put his opinions and ideas forth regarding decoration, wardrobe, hairstyles. For the house party in the episode, Prince also asked that it be directed in such a manner to resemble one of his real house parties, of which he had so many over the years.
When the episode aired on Fox after the Super Bowl on February 2nd, 2014 it was a commercial success attracting swathes of new viewers to the show for not just the episode, but in the months following the episode.
‘Prince’ was the most-watched episode of the series at the time, and it successfully attracted millions of new viewers, both during and after the episode. While some critics argued that the episode was weak and that Prince’s involvement was the only reason it wasn’t a complete dive for the programme, it has seemingly stuck in the fond memories of his fans. Actress Zooey Deschanel recalled on the Jimmy Kimmel show how the involvement was not only the highlight of the show but “my whole life”.
With the saddening loss of Prince’s life two years later, fans of the star and the show alike took to social media to remember this intimate moment that would live on as one of his last major appearances on screen.
Recapture some of the magic in the clip below.