Recently I have become quite obsessed with the George Ezra song ‘Listen To The Man’. To put it more accurately, I have become quite obsessed with the song’s accompanying music video that stars the inimitable Sir Ian McKellen lip-syncing to the words as poor young George tries to sing it. An added bonus is McKellen calling him Geoff, and saying how much he enjoyed the song “Bucharest”. He’s sporting a snazzy hat too.
This got me thinking then (because Sir Ian isn’t the first actor to do something like this): what are the top ten movie star cameos in music videos? Here’s what we came up with.
10. Hero – Mickey Rourke and Jennifer Love Hewitt
‘Hero’ tells the story of Mickey Rourke’s titular heroic businessman on a hunt to get his girlfriend Jennifer Love Hewitt back from kidnapper Enrique Iglesias. Thankfully Rourke beats him to death and gets the girl. At least that’s how I interpret it.
9. What Goes Around…Comes Around – Scarlett Johansson
Melodramatic as heck, and seemingly just an excuse for Justin Timberlake to make out with Scarlett Johansson in a swimming pool, this video is not without its merits. Directed by acclaimed music video director Samuel Bayer, we get a story of jealous love and the damning consequences thereof. Plus Ms. Johansson acting her beautiful socks off. Come to think of it, if I had any of Timberlake’s talent and dashing good looks (and, God willing, one day I will) I’d put Scarlett Johansson in all my music videos just so I could snog her too.
8. Giving Up the Gun – Jake Gyllenhaal
Firstly: whatever happened to Vampire Weekend? Secondly, I’m not sure what a tennis tournament has to do with guns, but this is delightfully silly. You’ve got a samurai, you’ve got twins, you’ve got a giant Amazonian woman by the looks of it, and of course you’ve got Jake “not Maggie” Gyllenhaal ripping off a pair of tiny tennis shorts to reveal… an even tinier pair of tennis shorts. Jake, you absolute lad.
7. Uptown Girl (Westlife cover) – Claudia Schiffer, Ioan Gruffudd, Crispin Bonham-Carter, Robert Bathurst, James Wilby, and Tim McInnerny
This was the 2001 Comic Relief single, and in many, many ways is a far more enjoyable video than Billy Joel’s original. In addition to Claudia Schiffer as the uptown girl in question (though really, who else could it be?) we get bonus cameos from the UK’s finest toff actors (actoffs?)… and that Welsh bloke. Owen? Ian? Joan? Anyway, I challenge anyone to watch that video and not tap their feet along to the beat, or start singing the chorus. Altogether now: ‘OoooOooOooo, Uptown Girl… !’
6. You Can Call Me Al – Chevy Chase
So I’ve said that Sir Ian McKellen’s lovely turn in George Ezra’s ‘Listen to the Man’ inspired this list, but Paul Simon and good pal Chevy Chase did the whole actor-stealing-the-limelight-through lip-syncing thing years before those two. Chase puts his heart and soul into this performance. More Chevy Chase in music videos is what I say.
5. The Ghost Inside – Christina Hendricks
I don’t think there’s much I can say about this video that you can’t get from just watching the thing. The superbly talented Christina Hendricks plays a woman who literally gives her right leg for fame and fortune. Though of course it doesn’t quite turn out how she imagined it would. A sad but accurate fable on the fickle nature of being famous.
4. I Want Love – Robert Downey Jr.
A post-rehab, pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. lip-syncs to Elton John’s 2001 song ‘I Want Love’, followed around a large mansion in one long tracking shot. There is something incredibly – I don’t want to say it but for want of a better word – apt about this actor in this video for this song. The opening lines: ‘I want love, but it’s impossible/A man like me, so irresponsible/A man like me is dead in places/other men feel liberated.’ The whole thing carries a lot of weight, making it a lot deeper than perhaps a music video need be. Then again, I think that’s what makes this one so great. RDJ is a marvel (sorry, but not really).
3. Fight for Your Right (Revisited) – Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood, Danny McBride, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Rashida Jones, Will Arnett, Adam Scott, Rainn Wilson, Ted Danson, Steve Buscemi, Laura Dern, Amy Poehler, Mary Steenburgen, Orlando Bloom, Jason Schwartzman, David Cross, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, John C. Reilly, and many, many more
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. It’s thirty minutes long, most of Hollywood appears to be in it, and it’s utterly surreal. Just… just watch it and try to pick your favourite star cameo. For me it’s a toss-up between Stanley Tucci, Will Arnett, and David Cross. No Chevy Chase though.
2. Hopeless Wanderer – Jason Bateman, Will Forte, Ed Helms, and Jason Sudeikis
Rumour has it that Mumford & Sons dislike doing music videos, so what better way to overcome this than by casting Jason Bateman, Will Forte, Ed Helms, and Jason Sudeikis as yourselves and letting them star in the video for you. The result is hilarious; highlights include trashing instruments, playing on a boat, and two of the guys passionately kissing each other as the crescendo builds.
1. Weapon of Choice – Christopher Walken
This is perhaps the daddy of all movie star cameos in music videos, and the one I think most people recall when the subject is brought up (which is more often that you’d think). Everything fits: the track, the setting, Walken, Walken’s dancing. It all comes together in a neat little package. Whoever came up with the idea is a goddamn genius. A genius I say!
What do you think? Let us know your number one movie star cameo in a music video below.