The Rocker starring Rainn Wilson opened in theaters Wednesday. We decided this warranted a list, but instead of just hashing out a list about 10 movies about rockers that rocked, we wanted to give you ten rockers who rocked in movies that may or may not have even been about rocking. And not only that, throw on top everyone talking about Tom Cruise’s memorable cameo this past week in Tropic Thunder, and we can spice this list up with rocker cameos that rocked.
Once you’ve digested all the “rock” in that previous paragraph we can move on.
So. I think we have to go over some ground rules here. We are weighing these cameos based on 3 different criteria that they have to meet.
1. The size of the rocker – The bigger the star, the more impressive the cameo.
2. Influence on the movie - Did the cameo come at a crucial time in the story where the rock star’s appearance added meaning to the moment?
3. Impact on the audience – Was the rocker given something to do? Were they funny, thought-provoking, or scary? Or were they just thrown in front of the camera?
So, now that you know the rules, here’s 10 Rockstar Cameos That ROCKED!
12. Bruce Springsteen, High Fidelity – The Boss belongs here because at one point in the film he gives John Cusack’s Rob the idea to get in touch with the girls on his All-Time Top 5 Break-up list. Not only this, but he comes off being as cool in this scene as you can imagine the Jersey man to be.
11. Jack White, Walk Hard – I had considered putting Jack White’s appearance in Cold Mountain on this list, but realized that’s more of a proper role than a cameo. Then I remembered that White’s appearance in last year’s Walk Hard was one of the only interesting parts in the entire film. Sure, he doesn’t look a great deal like Elvis Presley, but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying his short bit in the film. “Only two kinds of people know kar-a-tay: The Chinese and The King. And one of ‘ems me.”
10. Blink 182, American Pie - Blink was pretty big in ’98 and ’99. Their video for “What’s My Age Again” had them running around naked, so naturally a cameo in a teen-based sex comedy was right up their alley. Consider also that the song “Mutt” plays right before the band’s cameo in the film, and the stars aligned for some screen time for the faux-punk trio.
9. Keith Richards, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – I have to give it up to Keith Richards who was maybe the only thing I found amusing in PotC 3. The 3rd installment of the series saw Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow wearing out his welcome, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom continuing their reign of overacting, and a nearly 3-hour runtime. Richards comes in, gun blazing, as Sparrow’s father. Though you would think his appearance would be more comedic (it’s actually quite “dramatic”), it’s still good-ol’ crater-faced Keith.
8. Matt Damon, Eurotrip – Alright, Damon doesn’t rock in real life, but he rocks in this cameo. Damon, a king of cameos with classics in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Finding Forrester, and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, appears as the tattooed and pierced lead singer of a band who performs “Scotty Doesn’t Know” in the film’s opening act. He also gets to stick his tongue down Kristin Kreuk’s throat. I don’t know who Damon knew on the set of Eurotrip, but someone called in a favor to get Damon on-board. That favor may or may not have involved Kristin Kreuk’s throat.
7. David Bowie, Zoolander – Who better to judge an intense walk-off between Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson than ultra-hip and glamorous David Bowie? The scene, which also features “cool dude” Billy Zane in a funny cameo is one of the film’s more memorable. Stiller is always able to bring out the celebrities to his films, like the aforementioned Tom Cruise. Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath appears in Zoolander and so does Lance Bass who appeared in Tropic Thunder, too.
6. Alice Cooper, Wayne’s World – Cooper’s appearance in Wayne’s World comes at a point when the devious Rob Lowe gives Wayne and Garth backstage passes to Cooper’s show so that he can mack on Tia Carerre and her talents. At the show (in glorious Milwaukee), we get a memorable cameo from Chris Farley which is overshadowed moments later by the wise and insightful Cooper, decked out in leather and black eye make-up. Cooper drops some Native American knowledge on the boys prompting them to respond “we are not worthy.”
5. Billy Idol, The Wedding Singer – Perhaps the cameo that inspired this list, the amazing appearance of Idol in the climactic airplane scene in The Wedding Singer. Although it’s Adam Sandler’s surprisingly touching song that carries the emotional weight of the scene, it’s Billy Idol that gets to carry the comedy. The way he looks at the woman who asks “What’s the mile-high club?” is priceless. Plus, add on the fact that it’s a 43 year-old Billy Idol playing a 29 year-old Billy Idol in the film, and it becomes much more impressive.
4. Alanis Morrisette, Dogma – For Heaven’s sake, she plays God in Dogma, I think that warrants her a spot on this list. She, like Idol, comes in at the climax of the film and restores peace in the world and even impregnates a chick. That’s a lot to do in a little amount of time.
3..2..1. Dave Grohl and Meat Loaf and Dio, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny – Meat Loaf plays a major part early as Jable’s disapproving, rock-and-roll hating father. Grohl plays Beelzeboss aka the Devil, reprising his demonic role from the “Tribute” music video, who challenges Jack and Kyle to a rock-off at the end of the film. So while Meat Loaf’s cameo introduces the character’s backstory, Grohl gets to close the story off as the nemesis which the D has to thwart. With heavy rock artillery. Dio is just being Dio – enough said.
Honorable Mentions: Tom Petty’s out-of-place and smiley cameo in The Postman; Dee Snider’s brief appearance on the hood of a car in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure; Chris Martin in Shaun of the Dead (there’s actually a lot more of him in a deleted scene); Ringo Starr in Water.
So, like always, enjoy the list and let us know what we may have forgotten. Also keep in mind that this is for “rock star” cameos. There have been tons of rappers, pop stars, country artists, folk musicians, and other musical celebrities who have appeared in movies, but that’s a different list for a different day.