As evidenced by the sheer amount of ’em in bands, plenty of actors are heavily into music. (Although it’s fair to assume that Orlando Bloom’s no fan of Justin Bieber’s.) Accordingly, plenty of A-listers—whether in major or supporting roles—have lent their talents to the music world by making cameos in videos: Jake Gyllenhaal made a high-profile appearance wielding a tennis racket. Zooey Deschanel made a cameo in a punk vid before she blew up into an international superstar. Zach Galifianakis made a rap tribute. And there’s so, so many more—but here are 23 of our faves.
Christina Hendricks in Broken Bells’ “The Ghost Inside”
Note to musicians—if it’s passing mentions in GQ, Esquire, and Sharp ye seek, here’s one sure way to get ’em: Beg Christina Hendricks to appear in your video. Hey, it worked for Shins side project Broken Bells, who used the flame-haired actress in “The Ghost Inside,” at the peak of Mad Men madness.
Courtney Cox in Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”
Before she became a household name with Friends, Courtney Cox famously starred as a fan pulled onstage by the Boss in 1984’s “Dancing in the Dark.” Her onstage mom shuffle became so beloved, Springsteen still recreates the scene at his concerts to this day.
Evan Rachel Wood in Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends”
The video for Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends” might seem like saccharine, heart-string tugging pap, but the relationship detailed in the video isn’t fictional—Evan Rachel Wood ended up dating her co-actor in the vid, Jamie Bell. They’ve broken up since, with Wood eventually dating Marilyn Manson (who seems to be making a habit out of dating A-list starlets).
Zach Galifianakis in Kanye’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
OK, Zach Galifianakis’ farmboy reboot of “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” wasn’t Kanye-approved. But here’s the thing: It’s actually better than the original.
Dave Foley in Hollerado’s “Americanarama”
Kids in the Hall‘s Dave Foley and Hollerado have been long-time collaborators—he last appeared in the Toronto band’s video for “Desire 126,” released last April. But their collaboration actually began way back in 2008, when Foley starred in the Dov Charney-inspired edition of “Americanarama.” The band would arguably make a more famous version of the video—which involved a one-shot, coordinated AV display on a scaffolding, taken straight from the OK GO playbook—but we’ve always loved the original better, if only for Foley’s appearance.
Johnny Depp in the Lemonheads’ “It’s a Shame About Ray”
A few weeks back, we were waxing poetic about Depp’s band with former members of Butthole Surfers. But if that wasn’t enough to convince you of Depp’s ’90s cool, try this one on for size: He also appeared in the Lemonheads’ jaunty video for “A Shame About Ray.” Dude’s essentially an alt-rock legend.
Zooey Deschanel in the Offspring’s “She’s Got Issues”
Before Zooey Deschanel became a regular name in both the film and music worlds, she starred in the Offspring’s 1999 video for “She’s Got Issues.” (If you want even more context, the video was released on Americana, arguably the band’s last non-embarrassing album. It was a long, long time ago.) In it, she stars in the least Zooey role ever: With dyed red bangs, she’s the perfect intersection of mall punk and teen raver.
Paul Rudd in New Pornographers’ “Move”
Beyond its marquee names, this New Pornographers video was directed by Tim and Eric writer Tom Scharpling, who would also eventually direct a film about the band. As if you needed more of a reason to click the play button, it opens with Rudd sporting a 7-months-deep pregnant belly. As Canadian music videos go, this one’s a surefire hall of famer.
John Hodgman and Paul F. Tomkins in Ted Leo’s “Bottled in Cork”
Four years after its release, comedy podcast-obsessed NPR dads are still losing their shit over this video. The only thing it’s missing? Jake Fogelnest.
Norman Reedus in Lady Gaga’s “I’m Losing You”
Darryl-obsessed Walking Dead fans just got super jealous of Lady Gaga.
Macaulay Culkin in Michael Jackson’s “Black or White”
Back in the early ’90s (and coming off the success of Home Alone), unsavoury rumours swirled around Macaulay Culkin and Michael Jackson. Culkin, for his part, has maintained that the two were simply pals, and that friendship culminated in a starring role in “Black or White.” Two decades on, his brush with music seems to have made an impact—Culkin has launched a comedy / music career with the pie-obsessed Pizza Underground.
Kristen Bell in Yeasayer’s “Madder Red”
File this under weird: Veronica Mars is the caring, if over-concerned, owner of a one-eyed fleshy pet. We assume that Yeasayer were on heavy meds when they filmed this one.
Eddie Murphy in Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time”
Even 10 years after Delirious, Eddie Murphy was weird as heck. Case in point: Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time,” where he plays a vaguely sexy (read: very sexy) Egyptian pharaoh, namely, Ramses. The video begins with three straight minutes of pointless, likely racist, but undeniably sexy Egpyt worship before Jackson even steps onscreen. We don’t get it, either.
Jaleel White in Cee-Lo Green’s “Cry Baby”
Urkel, you’ve come a long way. In Cee-Lo Green’s “Cry Baby,” the former Family Matters nerd plays a debonaire lady killer, who lip-syncs along to every line of Green’s suave R&B. You jealous, Laura Winslow?
John Stamos in Beach Boys’ “Kokomo”
Scan Youtube, and you’ll find dozens of videos of Uncle Jesse—cough, John Stamos—performing with the Beach Boys. It’s a well-worn trivia question: Yes, the Elvis-impersonating Full House star plays in the house the Wilson bros built. But “Kokomo” is their only vid proper starring Stamos—and it’s a doozy.
Alicia Silverstone in Aerosmith’s “Amazing”
Before Clueless—and certainly before she started writing crazy, anti-vaccine parenting books—Alicia Silverstone starred in a pair of Aerosmith music videos with Liv Tyler, before the latter became a celebrity herself. “Crazy” was easily the better of the two, and her carefree performance in the video would later cement Silverstone as a star in the ’90s.
Will Sasso in Sum 41’s “Still Waiting”
Vancouver-born Will Sasso saw his star rise thanks to MADtv, but even at the peak of his fame, he hadn’t forgotten his Canadian roots. Instead, he gave back by starring in “Still Waiting,” where he plays an intensely thirsty A&R rep. The video seems hilariously dated now, but Sasso still delivers some choice lines, including “Blink 182? Green Day 75? These names are not cool.”
Jennifer Love Hewitt on LFO’s “Girl on TV”
LFO’s “Summer Girls” is, indisputably, the greatest summer song ever written. And while “Girl on TV” didn’t have excellent lyrics like “when you take a sip, you buzz like a hornet / Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets,” it was a solid follow-up which, in its lyrical content, felt like a SFW version of O-Town’s super-gross “Liquid Dreams.” Yes, both tracks were about lusting after celebrities, but LFO’s track had some tact—and a video that starred a greasy haired Jennifer Love-Hewitt.
Jake Gyllenhaal in Vampire Weekend’s “Giving Up the Gun”
Jake Gyllenhaal is beloved in Canada, largely because he’s regularly spotted in Toronto. But aside from his critically adored acting roles (as in the shot-in-Hogtown Enemy), Gyllenhaal also earned fans for his appearance in Vampire Weekend’s hyper-stylized “Giving Up the Gun,” where he stars as a tennis player alongside Joe Jonas, Lil Jon, and RZA.
Devon Sawa in Eminem’s “Stan”
Everyone in Canada seems to know someone related to former teen star Devon Sawa, but in my case, it’s actually true—I went to high school with his cousin. (Hi Jeff!) The Vancouver-born Sawa, for his part, had roles in well-respected films like SLC Punk, but his greatest musical achievement was starring in Eminem’s “Stan” as the song’s titular character. And you know what? As a crazed Em fan, he’s pretty damn convincing.
Ben Stiller in Puff Daddy’s “Bad Boy For Life”
Diddy’s “Bad Boy For Life” was, in its era, completely riddled with stars: Is that Xzibit? And Ice Cube? Did we spot Snoop Dogg? And… do those gel-soaked pierced nips belong to Dave Navarro? The biggest surprise in the vid, however, is Ben Stiller starring as an annoyed neighbour who, when a golf ball crashes through his window, tries to hush Puffy’s—sorry, “Mr. Daddy”‘s—buzz.
Ben Stiller in Smash Mouth’s “All Star”
Geez, Stiller in like, every ’90s music video? Yes, along with Diddy, he appeared in Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” a video best remembered for its inclusion in Shrek (and its many notable mashups). Here, though, he doesn’t play an nosy neighbour—instead, he’s the judge for an amateur superhero contest. Ah, the ’90s.
Mischa Barton in Enrique Iglesias’ “Addicted”
You’d think that, given Mischa Barton’s fame on The OC, that she could star in any Sub Pop / Polyvinyl / Saddle Creek video of her choice. Instead, she chose to star in Enrique Iglesias’s video for “Addicted,” where the pop singer plays the love interest of a jailbird. Terrible choice, Mischa.