Kevin Winter, Getty Images 2 Chainz will be a busy man this summer. The rap titan…
- Posted by Liisa Ladouceur
Toronto is overrun by movie stars like George Clooney, Drew Barrymore and Megan Fox for the Toronto International Film Festival (one of the world's big three, alongside Cannes and Sundance) not to mention scores of international media. But there have also been a metric ton of musicians appearing onscreen. Vampire-rock comedy 'Suck,' about a band that sells its collective soul to get a gig during New York's CMJ Music Marathon, premiered at TIFF with the most musician cameos per frame, boasting appearances by Iggy Pop, Moby, Henry Rollins, Rush's Alex Lifeson, Rough Trade's Carole Pope and the immortal Alice Cooper (as a vampire bartender, natch). Meanwhile, this weekend, Tom Waits plays the devil in Terry Gilliam's 'The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus,' and Snoop Dogg is lending his lanky frame and Crip cred to the girl gang film 'Down for Life.'
While it's by no means rare to see rappers get top billing in a film, more often directors will cast their favorite musicians in small but memorable cameos that act as cinematic in-jokes for the music fans who do recognize them. So let's look at a few of our favorites musician movie cameos.
10. Ian Brown as bookworm in 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' (2004)
You can take the British-isms out of the titles, but the 'Harry Potter' series will always be true-blue English. So while others may have missed it, the UK crowds (and Anglophiles) got a quick thrill from a blink-length walk-on by Ian Brown. Cast by his friend, director Alfonso Curan, the ex-Stone Roses singer got to stir his tea with a magic spell in his five-second role as "Man in the Leaky Cauldron reading book." Hey, it's more than the Gallagher brothers got.
9. Ozzy Osbourne as a televangelist in 'Trick or Treat' (1986)This heavy-metal horror flick starred Marc Price -- nerd-next-door Skippy from US sitcom 'Family Ties' -- as a bullied teen egged on to take revenge by a dead rocker. Osbourne was cast against type as a TV evangelist crusading against "sick" rock 'n' roll pornography. With his slicked-back hair and cheap charlatan suit, the rocker turned reverend spewed out a quote that could apply to Osbourne's reality-TV family: "These evil people have just got to be stopped!"
8. Marilyn Manson as a transsexual club singer in 'Party Monster' (2003)The shock-rocker was already well down the long hard road to androgyny and excess when he appeared as drugged-out, transgendered diva Christina Superstar in this dramatization of the real-life tragedy of murderous New York club kid Michael Alig, played by Macaulay Culkin. Teetering on high heels and with dialogue consisting mostly of cackling, Manson had his most memorable moment in a spoof of 'Carrie' in which he has green goo dumped on him by a vengeful prankster. No, not Trent Reznor.
7. Tom Waits as a mad scientist in 'Mystery Men' (1999)After starring roles in 'Down by Law' and 'Dracula,' Waits, the rare singer-actor who has earned that hyphen, popped up in this Ben Stiller superhero comedy as Dr. Heller, inventor of "non-lethal" weapons that non-help the bumbling leading men. When not in the lab, the good doctor spent his time hitting on nursing-home residents. One scene in which Waits proposes a threesome with a senior citizen and her roommate was deleted from the final cut but is, for good or ill, on the DVD.
6. Flea as a punk outlaw in 'Dudes' (1987)This early gig for the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist in Penelope Spheeris' punk western road movie remains criminally unseen (as was his debut in Spheeris' 'Suburbia'). But as young punk Milo in search of Californication, Flea brings both authenticity and his trademark cornball energy to the film. His demise at the hands of Fear singer Lee Ving is punk film history and kick-started the acting bug Flea fueled with bit parts in 'The Big Lebowski,' 'Fear and Loathing' and 'Point Break,' playing a surfer alongside ever-shirtless bandmate Anthony Kiedis.
5. Deborah Harry as meddling mom in 'Hairspray' (1988)Kudos to John Waters for casting this bona-fide New Wave singing star in his campy retro musical. Harry had already done Broadway and David Cronenberg (in his 1983 cult shocker 'Videodrome') before this role as a snobby stage mother married to Sonny Bono and at war with drag diva Divine. The street-wear style icon even made prim 1950s apparel look glamtastic and sexy, topped with a wild bouffant up-do -- bleached blonde, naturally.
4. Nick Cave as a rockabilly idol in 'Johnny Suede' (1991)Cave was so at ease as Freak Storm, the swaggering, chicken-pushing singing idol of Brad Pitt's titular crooner Johnny, he could have been channelling himself. In his platinum white suit, albino pompadour and hot pink boots, Cave surely must have shocked his black-hearted Birthday Party fan base. But he made up for it with a song -- about being born in a motel room to a father who got the electric chair for shooting a man -- that could quite easily have fit on any of his records.
3. Pearl Jam as grunge rockers in 'Singles' (1991)
Few films can boast better timing than 'Singles,' which was released just as the Seattle scene was taking the world by storm. Several local flannel-clad bands took onscreen cameos, including Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Tad (but notably not Nirvana, as Kurt Cobain allegedly hated the film). Perhaps that was because Pearl Jam got the highest-profile part, playing Matt Dillon's character's fake band Citizen Dick, whose signature track, 'Touch Me I'm Dick' was a pun on Mudhoney's 'Touch Me I'm Sick.'
2. Huey Lewis as (hip to be) square teacher in 'Back to the Future' (1985)
Huey Lewis and the News were all over the first 'Back to the Future' flick thanks to the No. 1 smash 'Power of Love' and the end-credits number 'Back in Time.' Lewis himself also landed two cameos: a brief fedora-clad scene back in the 1950s and an unforgettable turn as a high school talent judge who turns down Marty McFly's Battle of the Bands audition. Abruptly cutting of their metal instrumental version of 'Power of Love,' Lewis deadpans, "Sorry, fellas. I'm afraid you're just too darn loud."
1. Alanis Morissette as a divine deity in 'Dogma' (1999)Kevin Smith oughta have known you can't do that on television (or film). Leave it to the iconic indie director to cast a woman as God in his theological satire. A woman who shot to fame singing about oral sex in public, no less. Was the Church appropriately outraged? Yep. Was Alanis an inspired choice to portray a deity who kills with her piercing voice alone? Double yep. But in keeping with Morissette's real-life persona, her character uses her powers for good in the film's climax. Ironic, don't you think?