Nothing gets to the heart of a movie character quite like the perfectly curated rock T-shirt. There are scores of examples in contemporary films, especially from the last few years, so THR narrowed it down to ten key tee placements, from Wayne's World to 127 Hours.
Phish Tee in 127 Hours (2010)
The film 127 Hours received high marks for its attention to detail, but when it came to the Phish shirt Aron Ralston (James Franco) wore during his six-day ordeal, costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb had to make a strategic switch to a more subtle sunflower-themed fall 2000 tour tee. “If I had used [the original] shirt, we would have read the word ‘Phish’ for 90 minutes, and that would have been incredibly detracting,” Larlarb has said. “I went through the Phish back catalog of concert T-shirts, and I found one that was a little more abstract, but in keeping with what he wore.”
Bonnaroo Tee in The Kids Are All Right (2010)
For her unexpected dalliance with sperm donor Paul (Mark Ruffalo) -- and a bit of yard work -- Jules (Julianne Moore) sports a T-shirt for the Bonnaroo music festival, the annual gathering of alternative music and lifestyles held on a farm in Manchester Tennessee. Her same-sex partner Nic (Annette Benning), however, is more of the DIY sleeveless denim shirt kind.
Beastie Boys, Devo Tees in Get Him to the Greek (2010)
As Aaron Green, an entry-level employee at Pinnacle Records tasked with fetching the label’s most difficult rock star, Jonah Hill sports several music tees in Get Him to The Greek, including one for Devo and another for Beastie Boys.
Joy Division Tees in (500) Days of Summer (2009)
Levitt with Zooey Deschanel
With musical taste that leans heavy on the British, the love-struck Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) wears two Joy Division shirts during his 90 minutes on screen: one bearing the iconic cover to 1979’s “Unknown Pleasures,” the other displaying the artwork for “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” the band’s breakthrough single. A Clash shirt also makes an appearance.
Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox
Strokes Tee in Transformers (2007)
Rivaling Megan Fox and Optimus Prime for screen time in the first Transformers movie? Sam Witwicky’s (Shia LaBeouf) Strokes T-shirt, which upped the character’s cool cred significantly and in the process, provided two hours of free advertising for New York City’s indie rock darlings.
The Guess Who Tee in Almost Famous (2000)
In a revelatory scene from Cameron Crowe’s ode to sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, infamous scribe Lester Bangs derides The Doors and its frontman Jim Morrison for being a “drunken buffoon posing as a poet.” A better choice, he tells the local radio host about to interview him, “The Guess Who: they got the courage to be drunken buffoons which makes them poetic.”
Van Halen Tee in The Wedding Singer (1998)
Going steady in 1985 meant wearing your boyfriend’s Van Halen T-shirt, so after a drunken night with her wedding singer ex, Linda (Angela Featherstone), the girl who broke Robbie Hart’s (Adam Sandler) heart, uses his as a foil for potential love interest Julia (Drew Barrymore). Fortunately, Robbie comes to his senses the next morning, telling Linda, “Get out of my Van Halen T-shirt before you jinx the band and they break up.”
Citizen Dick Tee in Singles (1992)
They’re no Spinal Tap, but as fictional bands go, Seattle’s Citizen Dick, featuring Matt Dillon as its frontman Cliff, along with members of Pearl Jam, has enjoyed a far longer stay on the pop culture zeitgeist than anyone ever imagined. Credit Soundgarden's Chris Cornell, in part, who, in addition to making a cameo in Singles, was tasked with writing the group’s songs, and smart packaging: the platinum-selling soundtrack included a Dick CD.
Aerosmith Tee in Wayne’s World (1992)
Between the Saturday Night Live skit and two Wayne’s World movies, Dana Carvey’s Garth Algar may be the king of the rock T-shirt. Specifically, the Aerosmith Aeroforce One tee he wears pretty much all the time. Pointing to a deeper relationship between the band and the SNL franchise, Aerosmith was also deemed worthy of making it onto the movie poster, merchandise and other ancillary products. Ca-Schwing!
The Clash Tee in Say Anything (1989)
In one of the most iconic and heart-wrenching scenes to ever hit the screen, John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler displays his desperation for Diane Court (Ione Skye) with a boom box and a Clash T-shirt. Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” is, of course, the soundtrack.
Kristen Stewart fashions her own Sex Pistols T-shirt in The Runaways, demonstrating the immediate cultural impact the punk pioneers made on American audiences.
Jason Bateman's somewhat stunted character Mark in 2008's Oscar-winning Juno wears a Soundgarden shirt.
Michael Cera wears two Smashing Pumpkins tees in 2010's Scott Pilgrim.
Siouxie and the Banshees
make an unexpected appearance on Simon Pegg
in 2007’s Run Fatboy Run
takes no prisoners while wearing a Public Enemy
tee in 1991's Terminator 2
Which bands/movies did we forget? Leave your picks in the comments...