Celebrity Cameos in Music Videos: A Primer

James Van Der Beek is the latest in a long line of seasoned television and movie actors to dip a toe into the world of music videos.

Ke$ha’s new video for the song “Blow” featuring former Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek (and unicorns!) got us thinking of other celebrities who’ve starred in music clips.  

Courteney Cox in Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” (1984)
Although it was several years before Friends hit the air, a 20-year-old Courteney Cox would gain instant recognition when Bruce Springsteen pulled her out of the front row and onto the stage in the Brian De Palma-directed concert video for his Born in the U.S.A. hit, “Dancing In the Dark.” 

Chevy Chase in Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” (1986)

The first single off of Paul Simon’s seminal Graceland album featured Chevy Chase in a starring role. Mockingly lip syncing the singer until the two are dancing in unison at the end, the MTV staple was conceived in part by Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels.

Keanu Reeves in Paula Abdul’s “Rush, Rush” (1991)

George Lucas directed this video for Paula Abdul’s No. 1 hit, tipping its hat to the classic film Rebel Without a Cause with Keanu Reeves in the James Dean role. 


Alicia Silverstone in Aerosmith’s “Cryin’” (1993)

This late-era Aerosmith video set the gold standard for celebrity cameos. Not only did it kick-start Alicia Silverstone’s career (two years later, she would land the lead in Clueless), but it also promoted a repeat performance in the band’s clip for “Crazy.” And a video star was born. Fun fact: a young Josh Holloway (Lost) also makes an appearance in “Cryin’” as Silverstone’s purse-snatcher. 

Christina Ricci and Fairuza Balk in Moby’s “Natural Blues” (1999)
In this eerie David Lachapelle-directed clip, Christina Ricci appears as an angel who carries away an elderly wheelchair-bound Moby from the lifelessness of a retirement home.  Actress Fairuza Balk also stars as young Moby’s girlfriend. 
Christopher Walken in Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” (2001)
In perhaps the most impressive display of rhythm, agility and rock star-worthy sass, Academy Award-winning actor Christopher Walken stars in the brilliantly choreographed Spike Jonze-directed music video marvel, which won six MTV Music Video Awards the year of its release. 
Ben Stiller in Jack Johnson’s “Taylor” (2003)
Ben Stiller has directed box office smashes such as Tropic Thunder and Zoolander, but equally hilarious is this five-minute clip mocking the music video artform. Stiller directs and stars as a rude, loser-like version of himself that takes Jack Johnson’s lyrics way too literally. 

Katherine Heigl in Josh Kelley’s “Only You” (2005)

First comes video, then comes marriage… In a true story that could only happen in Hollywood, singer-singwriter Josh Kelley picks a little known Katherine Heigl to star in the clip for his song “Only You,” the two actually fall in love and get married two years later. 

Zach Galifianakis in Fiona Apple’s “Not About Love” (2006)

Zach Galifianakis proves he has a knack for lip-synching in this Fiona Apple clip, which finds him sharing a bed with the elusive singer. 

Scarlett Johansson in Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around… Comes Around” (2007)

This nine-minute mini-movie directed by Samuel Bayer (Nirvana’s “Smella Like Teen Spirit”) puts love, lust and betrayal on display as a sultry Scarlett Johansson kicks music video drama into overdrive. 

Megan Fox in Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” (2010)

In one of 2010’s most disturbing and violent videos, Megan Fox plays a beaten woman as Rihanna, a real-life domestic abuse survivor, delivers the powerful chorus to complement Eminem’s rage-filled rhymes: “Just gonna stand there and watch me burn/ Well that's all right because I like the way it hurts.”