Sometimes, we will be watching a music video and be surprised when one of our favourite actors crops up. It makes sense. Extras in music videos are technically actors in their own rights, so it shouldn’t really surprise anyone when they pop up. Sometimes they are just here, before they hit the big time. Other times, like the first example, they have no problem, letting up and coming bands borrow their star power to win fans over. Below are three examples and I reckon a lot more will follow over the next few months on this blog.
3 – BRUCE WILLIS – STYLO (GORILLAZ)
Gorillaz are one of the most unusual bands out there and loving that reputation, they work on making some of the most unique and exciting music videos around. Therefore, with Stylo, we get a manic car chase between the animated Gorillaz band, playing enigmatic bank robbers, being chased by various cops, including one undeniably cool Bruce Willis.
Bruce Willis totally goes for it. The camera takes its time introducing him, starting with a single shot of his chin. We already know that it is him deep down, so when we get the wide angle shot of him behind his muscle car, we are already getting excited. Before the action really begins, he gives the camera a look, suddenly breaking the fourth wall. It serves nothing other than ‘I am Bruce Willis and what you are about to see is beyond awesome.’ What follows next is an exciting car chase that sees robots being shot, Bruce Willis cackling manically as he leans out of the car window, armed with a revolver and an eerie final shot that can only really be described as: shark car!
2 – ROSE BYRNE – BLACK THE SUN (ALEX LLOYD)
Before Rose Byrne was famous, she starred in smaller things, one of them being this music video by Alex Lloyd, way back in 2000. She really does capture that late Nineties – early Noughties idea of the ideal woman. There is nothing artificial or in-your-face about her looks, but holistically, she is gorgeous, like the girl next door you have a crush on. This is kind of what the song is about, so Byrne hits the mark perfectly.
This is the kind of music video that revels in not making any sense. We are treated to various shots of Byrne alone in her room, sometimes shouting at the camera, sometimes smiling seductively at it. After a while, I think I have come up with a reading of these images. This is Alex Lloyd singing about a crush and the video is essentially his imagination, coming up with ideas of what she is doing right now. This is why in some clips, she is fighting as an ugly man drags her into her own room – she is the damsel needed to be saved – and then, she repeats the shot, willingly dragging the man into her room – she is happy and sexually active without him. Sometimes, she is sitting at a table on her own, waiting for him. In other shots, she treats the camera as if it is Alex Lloyd, suggesting the mood swings. Alex Lloyd’s mind is jumping through best case scenarios and then worst case scenarios. He is obsessed with Rose Byrne, unable to think about anything else. Yeah, I get that…
1 – ROBERT DOWNEY JR – I WANT LOVE (ELTON JOHN)
This is a phenomenal music video. It didn’t even look that hard to make, but that doesn’t stop it from being a great piece of film. It starts off with an Elton John song kicking in and then the camera flips around, so we see that it is being lip-synched by none other than Robert Downey Jr. At first, it is a funny moment, because Elton John is being subbed in for one of the more successful actors in Hollywood, but as the video carries on, it becomes something deeper.
First of all, we must commend Downey Jr. for keeping our attention throughout this entire four minute clip. It takes a good performance to make such a minimalist music video lasting, but Downey Jr. is one of the few people who can pull this off. He doesn’t even have to do a Christopher Walken and burst into manic dance moves. It also brings dimension to the song. There have been a couple of music videos, where I have watched the singer and wished they would act their song. They are singing about their deepest feelings, but their body language gives us nothing, which only allows me to fall in love with the song to a certain point. We do not get this with Downey Jr. He lives the song, strolling around his house, emptiness in his eyes, a man breaking under loneliness.
But the direction is superb as well. It is the empty house that speaks to me the most. This is a guy who supposedly has everything he wants, conveyed by this lavish, giant house. He has so much, but at the same time, the house feels more like a void than a gift. What is the point in a giant house if you have no one to share it with? And at the end of the video, he comes full circle and stands in the same point he started the music video with. He is stuck in an endless loop, the full stop to this powerful message. After watching this video, I have decided Robert Downey Jr. needs to remake this video for the start of Avengers 2.