I recently finished reading this brilliantly named autobiography by ex-punk rocker Richard Hell. It’s everything you could want in an autobiography: egotistical, eager to divulge, and highly entertaining.

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During the latter chapters I recalled Hell’s performance in the movie Smithereens (1982), the feature film debut of Susan Seidelman, who directed Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) (Richard also had a part in this), and written by Ron Nyswaner, who penned the Tom Hanks film, Philadelphia (1993).

Smithereens tells the story of Wren, (Susan Berman) a young runaway with no discernible talent, who sees Richard’s character, a musician named Eric, as a gateway to fame. It’s very evocative of the era, with a few of The Voidoids’ songs in the soundtrack. Worth checking out if you are/were into the CBGB scene.

Many favourite artists of mine have had a go at acting.

Here’s New York Dolls frontman, David Johansen, haunting Bill Murray as a deceased cab driver (Ghost of Christmas Past) in Scrooged (1988). Johansen still acts, sometimes under his alter ego, Buster Poindexter.

 

Joe Strummer in Mystery Train (1989), Jim Jarmusch’s love letter to Elvis Presley. Here he is, holding up a liquor store with Steve Buscemi.

NB A few members of The Clash, including Strummer, had cameos as ‘Street Scum’ in Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1982).

 

Bo Diddley in Trading Places (1983) as a pawnbroker. He doesn’t seem too impressed with Dan Aykroyd’s watch.

 

Iggy Pop as Belvedere Rickettes in Cry Baby (1990), John Waters’ comedy musical set in 50s Baltimore. Iggy’s had a few film roles over the years but Cry Baby was one of his more memorable roles. I think this clip illustrates my point.

 
Bryan Ferry as a punter in Breakfast on Pluto (2005). Incidentally, Jared Leto’s Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club looks strikingly similar to Cillian Murphy’s Kitten in this. Ferry’s isn’t a big part, more of a cameo, but it’s a good performance. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a clip of this.
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Then there are artists who straddle the actor/musician divide, like David Bowie, noted for his many sci-fi and fantasy roles, such as The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Labyrinth (1986) and The Prestige (2006).

And of course Meat Loaf, who I mentioned a couple of days ago when I visited The Frankenstein Place. Notable standouts include his role as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and his emotional turn as a lactating cancer patient in Fight Club (1999).

Do you have a favourite musician in a movie? Roger Daltrey in Tommy? Mick Jagger in Performance? Maybe even Tina Turner in Mad Max?

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