Tom Waits in Down By Law (1986) – The Jim Jarmusch prison odyssey sees Waits’ permanent hangover shtick working perfectly in the role of Zach: an imprisoned DJ looking to flee jail.
David Bowie – The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) During his Thin White Duke phase Bowie made a startling appearance in Nic Roeg’s bizarre sci-fi as an alien questing for water to save his dying planet. He told Rolling Stone: “It was a good exhibition of somebody literally falling apart. I was totally insecure with 10 grams (of cocaine) a day in me… Stoned out of my mind from beginning to end.”
Bjork – Dancer in the Dark (2000) Lars ‘Nymphomaniac’ von Trier’s bleak melodrama/musical featured the Sugarcubes singer in a starring role as Selma, a mother whose love of musicals helps her escape the unfolding tragedy of her life. Bjork’s heartbreaking lyrics form the backbone of the film. The singer said: “A lot of these songs come from a painful place, but it’s not mine – it’s not my pain.”
Mick Jagger – Performance (1970) Riffing on his rock star persona rubber lips played a pop idol holed up in his Notting Hill pad. Turner takes in a gangster on the run (James Fox) as his lodger. Their personalities merge in a psychedelic tale of identity from directors Donald Cammell and Nic Roeg. Jagger’s sex scenes with Keith Richards’ girlfriend Anita Pallenberg caused tension among the Stones.
Eminem – 8 Mile (2002) The Slim Shady rapper’s own journey from Detroit to hip-hop mega stardom was the inspiration for Curtis ‘L.A. Confidential’ Hanson’s film. Kim Basinger plays his mother and the film is at it’s best when B-Rabbit is spitting bars in the rap battle scenes. Eminem lost 24 pounds for the role and 8 Mile’s theme tune ‘Lose Yourself’ won an Oscar.
Courtney Love – The People vs Larry Flynt (1996) The controversial Hole singer was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as the stripper turned publisher Althea Leasure. She married the Hustler magazine porn baron Larry Flynt who became an unlikely advocate for free speech. Love credits director Milos Forman’s true-life tale with helping her get sober and kickstarting a career renaissance.
Sting – Quadrophenia (1979) The Police frontman played iconic mod the Ace Face who provides inspiration for Phil Daniels’ Jimmy in a coming of age tale soundtracked and derived from The Who’s 1973 album. In his sharp silver tonic suit and spiked hair, betraying the punk era during which the film was made, Sting’s King of the Mods turns out to be a bell boy.
Snoop Dogg – Starsky and Hutch (2004) The rapper is the best thing in the comedy reboot starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as the Ford Torino-driving cops. His Huggy Bear channels the spirit of Antonio Fargas’ jive-talking street informer from the TV show. Snoop said: “I went crazy. I did me. I brought flavour to Huggy and they let me do it. I got to be a character that I loved being as a kid.”
Gwen Stefani – The Aviator (2004) The No Doubt singer appeared as old school screen siren Jean Harlow in Martin Scorsese’s biopic of the Hollywood legend Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio). Spotted by the director on a Teen Vogue cover Stefani said of her film debut, “Obviously, Harlow’s the original blond bombshell. You can see that she inspired me.”
Bob Dylan – Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) The folk legend made his screen debut in Sam Peckinpah’s grungy western alongside James Coburn and country star Kris Kristofferson. With a feather in his top hat there’s a typically languid cool to Dylan’s character Alias. He also recorded the soundtrack which included the hit ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’.