Let's Rank The Best Celebrity Appearances In Madonna Videos!
Because it's time someone acknowledged some of Robert Wuhl's best work.
Call me a crackpot if you must, but I've long believed that IMDb should include music videos in an actor's CV. You can't really grasp Kirsten Dunst's full arc in the early 2000s, for instance, if you don't see that she appeared in a Savage Garden video right around the time she made Bring It On. And then there's BET's recent shading of Stacey Dash. If her videos were listed under her actress credits, then we all could've played along!
Therefore, in order to serve the greater good, I'm going to rank the best celebrity appearances in Madonna's music videos. A wide spectrum of performers -- from Oscar-winning stars to the punchlines of every joke about bad TV -- have helped make her ballads more lush, her dance hits more danceable, and her papas more preachy. They must be counted!
The following list is not comprehensive, since there are roughly forty celebrity cameos in the "Bitch I'm Madonna" video alone. Instead, I'm ranking the performers whose appearances in Madonna videos do the most to make their careers seem cooler. Who gained something from his or her Madge adjacency? Let's find out!
(Note: I'm only considering actors who showed up to the set of the video itself. Joe Pesci might be in "I'll Remember," but only because it uses clips from With Honors, everyone's favorite film about a homeless man who helps Brendan Fraser get through Harvard.)
- Christopher Walken, "Bad Girl"
Christopher Walken is pretty much set in terms of career coolness. Nothing's going to bump him up or down at this point, which is why he's at the bottom of this ranking for his turn in "Bad Girl" as a watchful ghost/spirit/angel who mournfully sees Madonna's character get murdered by a one-night stand. (Yes, that's what I just said. If you haven't seen this video, you really need to watch it. It's bonkers.)
But at the same time, this video is awesome. It's directed by David Fincher, for one thing, so it obviously has style, and the story is pretty interesting, as these things go. It certainly doesn't hurt Walken's coolness quotient. Yet when I saw him on Broadway a few years ago, he listed his Fatboy Slim music video in the Playbill without mentioning this one. What the hell, Walko??!?! Just because you're cool doesn't mean you're too cool!
- Terrence Howard, "Ghosttown"
Considering he's starring on one the highest-rated network dramas in recent memory, Terrence Howard's career doesn't need much of a boost right now. Still, there are so many stories floating around that make him seem like a crazy person that it doesn't hurt for him to star in an apocalypse-themed video for one of Madonna's best ballads.
The fact that this song was not a huge hit is more a reflection on the world's mistakes than on "Ghosttown"'s quality.
- Keith Carradine, "Material Girl"
As far as I'm concerned, this video is why Keith Carradine is a star.
He plays the producer of the "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" homage that Madonna's starring in, and when he falls for her, he woos her with his decidedly low-rent love. The irony, y'all! Madonna's character might be a material girl on stage, but in real life, she just wants a beat-up pick-up truck and some roadside daisies! And Keith C. is the only one who gets it!
- Danny Aiello, "Papa Don't Preach"
Consider this: Aiello appeared as Madonna's working-class New York dad in "Papa Don't Preach" in 1986.
Just a few years later, he got an Oscar nomination for playing a working-class New Yorker in Do The Right Thing. I don't believe in coincidences.
- Mike Myers, "Beautiful Stranger"
When this song dropped in 1999, Mike Myers didn't need coolness points. After all, "Beautiful Stranger" was the big soundtrack hit from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, so everybody involved here was boosting everybody else.
NOW, however, in the wake of The Love Guru and Shrek 29: Still Not Funny, the buoyancy and charm that Myers displays as he romps around with Madonna makes it easier to remember why he used to be popular. A little bit easier, at least.
- Goran Visnjic, "The Power of Good-Bye"
Never, ever discount the value of being the sexy guy in a Madonna video.
Even all those years on ER seem somewhat shinier when you remember that Visnjic got to play metaphorically potent chess with Madonna during her Ray of Light phase.
- Robert Wuhl, "Material Girl"
You know what's funnier than literally every second of Arli$$? Wuhl's quick bit at the start of "Material Girl" (above), in which he plays Keith Carradine's yes man.
- Sacha Baron Cohen in "Music"
This is the video that introduced Sacha Baron Cohen -- in character as Ali G -- to America.
Without this, he almost certainly wouldn't have had the clout to get the Borat movie made, which would've meant he never got to deliver great performances in Hugo and Sweeney Todd and Les Miserables. I'm not saying I have any use for Ali G or Borat. I do not. But SBC has still done his share of good work, and an awful lot of it stems from the fact that Madonna liked what he was doing before any other Americans did.
- Debi Mazar, "Papa Don't Preach," "True Blue," "Justify My Love," "Deeper And Deeper," and "Music"
Seriously, though. Would any of us know who Debi Mazar is if she and Madge hadn't been friends for so long? Well, maybe. But let's be real: no matter how many episodes of Younger she's in, the coolest thing is always going to be that she appeared in SO MANY Madonna videos. She's even in "True Blue," which is cute but also stupid.
Mazar will even be in the video where Madonna wears her "La Isla Bonita" costume again, except in blue. That's how deep Mazar rolls.