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Sunday 17 December 2017

Top 10 music videos featuring actors, from Donald Sutherland in Cloudbusting to Christopher Walken in Weapon of Choice

Scarlett Johansson in the video for Justin Timberlake's 'What Goes Around Comes Around'
Scarlett Johansson in the video for Justin Timberlake's 'What Goes Around Comes Around'
Ed Power

Ed Power

Everyone loves Games of Thrones – even people who started off hating Games of Thrones (all that violence, nudity and Peter Dinklage will win you over eventually).

So we shouldn't be surprised stadium pop ensemble Bastille have tapped Sophie Turner – perpetually dewy-gazed Sansa Stark to you and me – to star in the music video for new single Oblivion.  She mimes the song at a race track and looks sad:

In fact, there is a long, occasionally hilarious tradition of high profile actors gracing pop videos. Here are our top ten rock promo cameos by movie stars.


1: Donald Sutherland – Cloudbusting

As you would expect of a singer who turned black leotards into an avant-garde fashion statement, the promo to this wispy 1985 single is plenty eccentric. Bush wears a red wig and school boy cardigan; Sutherland is a madcap inventor pointing a battery of silver horns towards the heavens. The video was inspired by Terry Gilliam's cult steam-punk movie Brazil, with which Bush had reportedly grown besotted. There's a story of sorts: we see Sutherland in a laboratory pursued by men in black overcoats; Bush gives chase, using the 'cloudbusting' machine to send a sinister cumulus after the villains. So that makes sense then. Because he couldn't secure a UK work permit in time, Sutherland agreed to appear for free.


2: Johnny Depp – Into The Great Wide Open

Through his career, Depp has often given the impression he'd rather be a rock star than an actor. So who better to play a dissolute axe-wielder seduced by fame, money and swooning fans? A cautionary railing against the perils of the big time by resident grumpy outsider Tom Petty, the video showcases Depp at his most charismatic, back when it seemed he might actually be interested in becoming a straightforward matinee idol. Since then, of course, he's taken refuge in weirdness-for-weirdness sake. Twenty years on, the video to Into The Great Wide Open can be read as almost prophetic – though, as it transpired, Depp wasted his talent not on simple hedonism but bad Tim Burton movies.


3: Angelina Jolie – Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through

Before finding full-time employment as the scarier half of Brangelina, Jolie was a music video regular, popping up in promos for artists as widely flung as The Lemonheads (It's About Time) and Lenny Kravitz (Stand By My Woman). Directed by future Transformers hate-figure Michael Bay, this 1991 Meat Loaf promotional film stars Jolie as a simpering love interest cooing and bats her eyelids as Meatloaf grunts stoically in her direction.


4: Winona Ryder – Talk About The Blues

Yes, Winona Ryder is VE-RY annoying as she pretends to sing lead vocals on this caterwauling chunk of blues raw. Mugging so hard you worry she might sprain a muscle, Ryder reminds us why, by the end of the 90s, everyone was throughly fed up of her troweled-on quirkiness. Several years and one shop-lifting trial later she had thoroughly fallen from favour. Thus, this video serves as an important time capsule: a reminder of the terrifying forces unleashed when she went the 'full Winona'.


5:Christopher Walken – Weapon of Choice

Synonymous with psychos, weirdos and sundry mumbling miscreants, at the height of his screen notoriety, it caused Walken considerable displeasure that his background in musical theatre went unacknowledged. He'd started as a song-and-dance man in New York – and yet it was his scary eyes, not his twinkling toes, that got him hired. So when the offer came to showcase his talents as a dancer – while floating on wires at that – he didn't need to be asked twice. Directed by Spike Jonze, the promo was shot in the lobby of the Los Angeles Marriot Hotel.


6: Macaulay Culkin – Sunday

The sort of adorable child actor whose looks turn weirder as he ages out into adulthood, Culkin had been one of the more annoying elements in the video to Michael Jackson's Black Or White. But hooking up with avant-garde noise specialists Sonic Youth, he was properly kooky, his milky gaze and pallid skin giving him the quality of a depressed extra terrestrial.


7: Scarlett Johansson – What Goes Around…Comes Around

One of those music videos that secretly (or not so secretly) wants to be a movie, it stars J-T and Scar-Jo as on-off lovers. Timberlake spends most of the time frowning and rubbing his stubble while Johansson, foreshadowing her recent veer into art-house bonkerdom (Under the Skin, Lucy), gets her crazy on. In one 'scene', she pretends to drown in Timberlake's swimming pool – when he dives to her rescue, it is revealed she was just angling for a snog. It's that kind of video.


8: Jake Gyllenhaal – Giving Up The Gun

Middle class and educated at fancy-pants Columbia University, you might expect Vampire Weekend to shy from their 'preppy' roots. In fact, they have embraced their inner Gatsby's through their career – never more so than in this tennis-themed video, in which the band model interesting polo shirts as a pouting Gyllenhaal demonstrates his crisp backhand. The promo is airless and vaguely foreboding, though not without humor: at one point Gyllenhaal removes his short-shorts to real and even shorter pair beneath.


9: Bruce Willis – Stylo

Willis is a bounty hunter pursuing the animated characters who front Gorillaz. Inspired by Mad Max, the vid isn't original – but it has Willis driving a beat-up muscle car with a vast engine sticking out of the bonnet and you have to respect that. The tune's pretty catchy too. Quite why one of the foremost action icons of the age should wish to be associated with a Blur side-project is unclear – however, everyone involved can be pleased with the results.


10: Jason Bateman –  Hopeless Wanderer

Before agreeing to be interviewed Mumford and Sons have been known to stipulate journalists do not ask about their 'famous friends'. Which is strange as they otherwise seem awfully keen on advertising the reach of their rolodexes. The wedding music at frontman Marcus Mumford's 2012 knot-tying to actress Carey Mulligan was provided by struggling up-and-comer Adele; attending the nuptials were little known Colin Firth and the aforementioned Jake Gyllenhaal. Several months later, the bearded beatniks were at it again, recruiting Arrested Development's Bateman to star as one quarter of a 'fake' Mumford and Sons, actors Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms and Will Forte completing the line-up.


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