MOG Post: Musicians in the Movies

Posted on 22.02.2011


One of my favorite things about being here in Germany is getting to watch movies I haven’t seen in FOR.EV.VER dubbed in German. It forces me to remember the movie and try to pay close attention to what they are saying. It’s almost like trying to solve the case in CSI before the cast does.

So last night I got to re-watch Edison, a movie I haven’t seen in a long time. In German! Edison has Justin Timberlake and LL Cool J in it. Nice. It got me thinking about all of the other movies I have seen where musicians make an appearance as themselves or actually act. And I thought that they deserve a post, for branching out and trying new things.

Not mentioned here: actors/actresses that got into music AFTER they were already stars. I’m looking at YOU, Zooey Deschanel. Even though I love you and She + Him to pieces.

It would take a really long time to post everything that everyone has done, so I am only writing here about the memorable roles that I have seen. And then giving the musicians a ‘believability rating’ of just how well they transcend the fact that they are already a well known musician and become the part they are playing.

And I give you:


Shirley Manson:

I’ve got her at the top for NOT being in too many movies, just in TV. But oh, the TV. My first girl-crush EVER is pretty much the show-stopping star of the Terminator: Sarah Connor series. I know, I know, it’s about some chick named Sarah Connor… but can anyone ignore the fiery haired Supervixen on the screen? I’m biased, but I like it that way. Just in case her fur-coat, mini dress and knee-high ass kicking boot wearing in ’94 wasn’t enough to convince you of the exact level of badass she was, here she is as a fucking robot, kicking ass and taking names. All without letting on that she is already a multi-million album selling rock star.

Believability: 7 (she’s new to the acting and I will always know her as the red head that stole my heart)


Steven Tyler:

The man shows absolutely no pretense and has a great sense of humour. Why else would he have agreed to a cameo on Two and a Half Men? And who can forget the Aerosmith spot in Be Cool, starring Uma and John who can’t help but to always star in movies where they dance together…

There isn’t much to believe here since he is always playing himself… but for that he got a mention 🙂


LL Cool J:

Hey lover. He’s been doing a lot MORE acting recently, but I feel the need to bring up his role in Deep Blue Sea, where he is the cook on a sub and the ONLY guy that lives. hahhaah. He may have been the only sane character in that movie, btw. I know he was probably supposed to be comic relief, but he really made the movie (and an ok for the early 00’s title track as well). Then he starred opposite the lovely Queen Latifah in Last Holiday (awesome pair), in Charlie’s Angels, Edison with JT, and has recently jumped onto NCIS for those of us who love an ok crime tv show (not the same without Abby)

AND: for the kids who grew up in the 80’s… he was also on an episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete. I am not even joking. Go see for yourself.

Believability factor: 7. I’m always going to know him as the guy with the ice cream in the hey lover video and that makes it hard to see him as anything else. It’s like he’s almost TOO cool for movies.


Queen Latifah:

Seriously, how is she NOT more popular than Oprah yet? I thought it was so cool that the lady who sang UNITY was in a movie. Many movies. She is the first female rapper to be nominated for an academy award. Rock out. She’s been all over the place in the movies, and honestly, she is a really good actress. I love QL movies. We’ve got the aforementioned Last Holiday with LL, Hairspray (where she is a perfect fit for her role as Motormouth Maybell), Stranger than Fiction,Taxi, Beauty Shop (last known movie sighting of Alicia Silverstone),the Bone Collector (badass), Chicago, and last but not least as a voice actor for the Kung Faux series, which might be my favorite part of her acting rap sheet.

She is great.

Believability factor: 10. She is so good that people forget she was a rapper first.


Justin Timberlake:

He’s bringing sexy back… to the movies. In case epic videos like Cry Me a River aren’t proof enough that the JT loves him some acting, he’s got a growing list of appearances where he is actually acting. Let’s first mention that he is really good at making fun of himself. He’s had a TON of appearances on SNL, the most memorable being the Xmas ‘Dick in a Box‘ episode. Priceless.

Recently he’s been in Edison and Alpha Dog, with a few more releases scheduled for the next two years. I’m interested to see where he goes with all of this.

Believability factor: 6. He does an ok job stepping away from the epic proportions of album sales but he needs to do a few more for me.


Mos Def:

Holding true to the stereotype that all White People love Mos Def, I shamelessly admit to loving the hell out of this man. In fact, anyone that doesn’t love Mos for at least his music is dead to me. Or just probably has really bad taste in music.

Mos gets big points from me personally for starring as the best version of Ford Prefect that I could ever possibly imagine in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Could anyone else have pulled that role off? Probably. Could they have looked as awesome and convincing doing it? Probably not. Then you’ve got him in the Italian Job as Left Ear, Be Kind Rewind being effing hysterical, the voice of Gangstalicious in theBoondocks series (um, PRICELESS)… and then he plays himself for a few minutes in Talladega Nights.

Believability: 9. Major props to Mos for stepping away from being one of the best known artists in Hip Hop.


David Bowie:

David, we need to have a talk. It’s about your age. How in the hell are you older than my parents?

Because I was born in 1981, i knew Mr. Stardust as the guy from theLabyrinth before I knew that he was a musician (what do you mean, he sings outside of movies???). And if I always remember him as that first, that’s ok. DB was the first man to wear pants THAT tight that I had ever seen and I thank those pants for my early knowledge of the male anatomy. I’m sure that half of my female friends do as well.

David Bowie hasn’t starred in a LOT, but the two other movies I have seen him in were definitely memorable. Let’s face it, when you get David to sign on, it’s going to be a fucking great movie. First there was Basquiat in ’96, where he plays one of my favorite artists, Andy Warhol. My head nearly exploded when one of my favorite musicians became one of my favorite artists. No joke. Then a decade later cameThe Prestige. I dare you not to love this movie. How insane was this, in general? And how much awesome did DB bring to the film as Tesla, the scary magician-scientist of few words? Case closed.

And finally: Big ups to the Venture Brothers for making David Bowie The Sovereign; his henchmen Klaus Nomi and Iggy Pop. Sure, he didn’t voice himself, but the fact that DB is the head of a society of arching and villains who turns into an eagle flies away at the end of the series is pretty great writing.

Believability: 8. You’re always a rock star to me. Even though you transcend it beautifully by becoming things/roles that are BETTER than rock stars.


And Last, but certainly not least:
Marky Mark Whalberg:
The Calvin Klein model turned musician turned actor… or was it musician/model/actor??? I don’t remember. But wow, acting is totally his thing. Not the other two so much, now that he is older.
Mark’s got an impressive resumé that includes Boogie Nights (a perfect entrance into the movie world, even if it wasn’t technically his first, it’s what got him noticed), the Big Hit (awesome), the Italian Job(even better), the Departed (fucking perfect) and he is the male lead inThe Lovely Bones, which I have yet to see but was a book that I loved.
Seeing him argue with Maaaaaaaat Daaaaamonnnn in a Bastan Accent in the Departed was just. Perfect. The whole movie was amazing, thanks Mr. Scorsese for making gold again and again.
Believability factor: 10. Just like Queen Latifah, he’s been doing this for so long people (almost) forget Good Vibrations.
If I missed anyone that you think deserves a mention feel free to comment with your additions:)


Posted in: music