We all know that famous actors have often gotten their start in music videos, from Courteney Cox in Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” to Alicia Silverstone in “Cryin’.” But lately, we’ve seen a sort of role reversal, with independent musicians drafting film and TV celebrities to star in their music videos, thus raising the profile of the clip and (hopefully) the band. After the jump, watch 10 indie-rock videos featuring cameos by well-known actors, from Kristen Bell’s recent Yeasayer clip to Winona Ryder as Debbie Gibson in a crazy Mojo Nixon production to a debut by an unknown band that reunited some of our favorite ’90s Nickelodeon stars.
Yeasayer — “Madder Red” Starring: Kristen Bell In this bizarre, cinematic clip for a pensive track on Yeasayer’s Odd Blood, the erstwhile Veronica Mars plays a high schooler whose beloved pet has fallen ill — except the pet happens to be a kind of gross-looking brown blob. Can she save him? (Should she even want to?)
Broken Bells — “The Ghost Inside” Starring: Christina Hendricks Things start out familiarly enough for the Mad Men sex symbol: She’s by the pool, wearing a big hat and drinking a martini. Then we get a glimpse of the crazy space voyage — shades of her Firefly past — that made her the bionic vixen she’s become. (FYI: This isn’t the first music video Hendricks has starred in. Here she is in the clip for Everclear’s “One Hit Wonder,” from the 1997 album So Much for the Afterglow.)
Smog — “I Feel Like the Mother of the World” Starring: Chloë Sevigny Like any good indie It Girl, Sevigny has starred in a number of music videos, from Beck’s “Gamma Ray” to Coconut Records’ (Jason Schwartzman’s band) “Any Fun.” But our favorite is her turn as an eye patch-wearing maid in the lo-fi video for this heavy Smog song.
The XYZ Affair — “All My Friends” Starring: Marc Summers, Jason Zimbler (Ferguson from Clarissa Explains It All), Michael C. Maronna (Big Pete from The Adventures of Pete & Pete), and Danny Cooksey (Bobby Budnick from Salute Your Shorts) Who knows how they managed to pull it off, but this Brooklyn band assembled three redheaded ’90s Nick stars for their debut video, in which they aid The XYZ Affair in hatching a “Marc Summers revenge plan.” This basically involves throwing a massive party to annoy Summers (who lives next door to the band). Spoiler alert: Ferguson gets smooched.
Bright Eyes — “At the Bottom of Everything” Starring: Evan Rachel Wood While Evan Rachel Wood’s best-known music video role was in on-and-off lover Marilyn Manson’s Lolita-worshiping “Heart-Shaped Glasses,” she also starred as a doomed airplane passenger in the video for this epic Bright Eyes track.
HIM — “Buried Alive By Love” Starring: Juliette Lewis Of course, Juliette Lewis already has a successful music career of her own. But she still found time to play the tough-looking dream girl in this 2003 video for the Finnish band HIM. And you’ll never guess who directed it. Give up? Bam Margera.
Mojo Nixon — “Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant with My Two-Headed Love Child” Starring: Winona Ryder In this retro, low-budget, black-and-white video, Ryder dons a blonde wig and plays the title role, to hilarious effect. Just watch it.
Islands — “No You Don’t” Starring: Michael Cera You know Michael Cera. But have you seen Michael Cera on drugs? Watch what happens when this geek-chic teen dream downs a handful of glowing pills in this psychedelic Islands clip.
Vampire Weekend — “Giving Up the Gun” Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal In this creepily minimalist video, a preppy (of course), redheaded girl takes on a series of mysterious challengers in her quest for tennis supremacy. One is a goofy, alcohol-swilling Gyllenhaal in a comically tight outfit. But the clip also includes cameos by — get ready for this — Lil’ Jon, Joe Jonas, and the RZA.
Devendra Banhart — “Carmensita” Starring: Natalie Portman How did freak-folker Devendra Banhart get every nerd’s dream girl, Natalie Portman, to star in his music video? Why, he dated her, of course! The couple has since broken up, but this Spanish-language clip with a Bollywood motif remains as evidence of their union.