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While the world has gotten used to seeing their favourite artists and musicians serenading crowds at a festival or on stage in an arena, theatre or club venue surrounded by amps or strobe lighting, they’ll occasionally pop up in a Hollywood hit, cult classic, action blockbuster, or comedy flick.
Below we’ve compiled some of our favourite musicians in film cameos, and if available, how you can watch them at home.
Steven Spielberg’s ’90s adventure film adaption of J.M Barrie’s fantasy novels sees Robin Williams take on the role of the “boy who never grew up”. But in a surprising cameo, Genesis drummer and acclaimed solo artist Phil Collins appears as Inspector Good – the British detective charged with trying to find adult Peter’s two children when they’re taken by Captain Hook. It might surprise some, to learn than Collins’ was a child actor, whose roles included a stint on the West End.
Musicians David Crosby and Jimmy Buffett also appear briefly as members of Hook’s pirate crew in this classic retelling suitable for all the family.
Red Hot Chili Pepper’s bassist Flea appears alongside singer-songwriter Aimee Mann as self-proclaimed German nihilists in the 1998 Coen brothers’ cult classic flick The Big Lebowski. Mann’s character memorably sacrifices her right pinky toe in a kidnapping scheme.
Since 1984, Flea has acted in over 20 films including Back to the Future Part II and Part III, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Baby Driver and Toy Story 4, in addition to voicing Donnie Thornberry in The Wild Thornberrys animated television series.
In this fantasy comedy about a group of aspiring superheroes, the titular Mystery Men seek out Tom Waits’ character Dr A. Heller, an eccentric inventor and weapons developer, who has a penchant for non-lethal armoury, in an attempt to save their city from villain Casanova Frankenstein. The husky-voiced musician has 39 acting credits to his name according to IMDb… which includes The Book Of Eli, Seven Psychopaths and Netflix’s 2018 six-tale Western, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs where he cameos as Prospector in the All Gold Canyon segment.
Doing what he does best, Welsh crooner Sir Tom Jones belts out his iconic hit It’s Not Unusual to a half-empty Las Vegas club as the world surrenders to an alien invasion during his cameo in the fantasy-comedy film, Mars Attacks!. Danny DeVito memorably references the song incorrectly while trying to scrounge an autograph much to the chagrin of Jones, who ultimately snubs him.
Produced by HandMade Films – the company formed by former Beatle George Harrison and his business partner Denis O’Brien in order to finance Monty Python’s Life of Brian – the film ultimately scored Harrison a cameo. Appearing as Mr. Papadopoulos, the owner of the mount, he was given one word of dialog. Other notable films from the studio include Time Bandits and Withnail and I.
Californian punk outfit blink-182 make a cameo appearance in the teen comedy as the band who watches Jim and Nadia during their webcast in the first American Pie movie, though Travis Barker is incorrectly credited as former Blink-182 drummer, Scott Raynor. Whoops. In addition, the band’s song Mutt is included on the first film’s soundtrack, an accolade continued as American Pie 2 features the trio’s track Every Time I Look For You.
While this movie has a host of cool cameos, like the uncredited roles of Paul Rudd as John Lennon, and Jack Black as Paul McCartney, we’ll call out Jack White as Elvis Presley here. The White Stripes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather co-founder and singer parodies rock-n-roll icon Elvis and is one of a slew of musicians to share a bill and stage with Dewey (John C. Reilly) as his career gets bigger.
Based heavily on the 2005 film Walk the Line, Dewey Cox’s persona takes much inspiration from Johnny Cash but also includes nods to the lives and careers of other musicians including Roy Orbison, Glen Campbell, Bob Dylan, John Lennon and more.
A victim of Saw franchise villain and antagonist Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), racist skinhead Evan – played by late Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington – wakes up superglued to a car seat in his cameo during the seventh film. It’s safe to say it gets much worse for his character from there.
Best known for fronting nu-metal group Linkin Park, Bennington also provided vocals for Dead by Sunrise, Stone Temple Pilots, and Grey Daze before his untimely passing in 2017.
Flea is not the only member of funk-rock quintet RHCP to appear in a film. Frontman Anthony Kiedis – whose father is actor Blackie Dammett – pops up in Kathryn Bigelow’s early ’90s action thriller starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. Kiedis portrays a Malibu surfer called Tone, who taunts Johnny (Reeves) until Bodhi (Swayze) turns up and a beach brawl breaks out.
Cameron Crowe’s 1992 cult classic gives late musician Chris Cornell a walk-on part, joining his neighbours Cliff (Matt Dillon) and Janet (Bridget Fonda) in the street when the installation of a car stereo goes horribly wrong and blasts music across the neighbourhood. The film also features a live performance by Cornell’s band Soundgarden, and cameos from other Seattle musicians including members of Pearl Jam.
“Who’d win in a wrestling match, Lemmy or God? Trick question; Lemmy is God”
This 1994 comedy not only makes metal jokes, it snags a cameo from the rock n’ roll legend himself. The late Motörhead frontman appears as a regular fan in a crowd when numerous audience members shout out notable facts from their pasts, with Lemmy declaring: “I was editor of the school magazine!”
The classic rock icon, frontman of The Heartbreakers and former member of the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys appears in mid-’90s post-apocalyptic action-adventure film, The Postman. Opposite lead Kevin Costner, Tom Petty cameos as the Mayor of Bridge City – a sanctuary for survivors of the futuristic neo-Western version of the United States portrayed in the movie. The film was set in the then near-future year of 2013.
The Prince of Darkness is a lot of things, but a straight-laced televangelist, surely not? In 1986 comedy-horror flick, Trick or Treat, metal icon Ozzy Osbourne rallies against rock music and the apparent terrible influence it has on impressionable, young minds. The film follows a teenager haunted by the ghost of his rock musician hero. Keep an eye out for KISS legend Gene Simmons who also pops up as a Radio DJ.
Primed and perfectly dressed, No Doubt frontwoman and solo artist Gwen Stefani appears on the arm of aviation pioneer and billionaire film producer Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) in this epic biographical drama. Her part? The blonde bombshell and Hollywood actress, Jean Harlow, of course.
In addition to her music career, Stefani launched a fashion line, L.A.M.B. in 2004, and appears as a judge on select seasons of the American edition of The Voice.
The Achy Breaky Heart singer dons a wife-beater vest to appear briefly in David Lynch’s neo-noir mystery film as an adulterer, caught having an affair with the wife of film director Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux). Cyrus then uses his strength to chuck Kesher out of his own house. It’s not Cyrus’ only acting credit either. He also starred opposite daughter Miley in the Disney Channel original TV series, Hannah Montana.
Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette is given the ultimate role in Kevin Smith’s 1999 religious satire, appearing as God manifested in female form. In her short cameo, Morissette’s God manages to annihilate the baddies, perform a miracle or two, and return to heaven without breaking a sweat.
Directed by and starring Ben Stiller, this 2001 action-comedy follows the escapades of egotistical and dim-witted but kind-hearted male model Derek Zoolander (Stiller), his rivalry with rising star Hansel (Owen Wilson) and a plot to kill the Malaysian prime minister. While there are plenty of cameos including Victoria Beckham, Fred Durst, Mark Ronson and Paris Hilton throughout the film, David Bowie’s iconic appearance as the judge of the pre-runway party walk-off is perhaps the most memorable.
British musician, Jarvis Cocker, best known as the frontman of the rock band Pulp in addition to his solo works, appeared in the fourth film adaption of the Harry Potter franchise. He portrayed Myron Wagtail, the lead singer of the band The Weird Sisters in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Dave Grohl first donned the devil suit in the video for Tenacious D’s 2002 hit Tribute. Summoned once again from hell, the former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters’ frontman returns to the role four years later, appearing to JB (Jack Black) and Kyle (Gass) as Satan, who is challenged to a guitar shred battle against the duo in the 2006 film Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny.
British musician Ian Brown, best known as the lead singer of the rock band The Stone Roses as well as a successful solo career, appears in the third film adaption, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, as the wizard sitting in the Leaky Cauldron reading A Brief History of Time.
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