There are many things I’m passionate about in life. Two of the biggest just happen to be rock and roll and motion pictures. I’m not sure if my record collection or my movie collection are bigger, but I don’t foresee either shrinking any time soon. One of my favorite genre of films is rock and roll films. These are movies that try to capture what it’s like to be in a rock band, whether funny or heartbreaking, and let me tell you from experience, it’s a good healthy dose of both.
Some actors nail it, and make you believe they really could be rock stars. They somehow manage to embody the role and capture the real essence of what it’s like to play a live rock show. Here now are three of my personal favorite actor rock star roles.
Billy Crudup & Jason Lee in “Almost Famous” — Okay, I know I’m cheating by putting two actors in one slot, but writer and director Cameron Crowe’s 2000 love letter to his days as a teenage rock and roll critic (a very true story) so perfectly captured what rock band life is all about, that I had to put both actors on the list. Crudup as the gifted lead guitarist and Lee as the tortured and jealous lead singer were so flawless in their performance that it gave the scenes of drama and tension between them an almost documentary-like feel. When it comes to Hollywood portrayal of life on the road, this film is the best at it.
John C. Reilly in “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” — This 2007 biopic parody deserved a far better box office showing than it got. For the role, Reilly dug deep and was able to mimic the voice styling of everyone from Bob Dylan to Johnny Cash and everywhere in between. Meticulous detail was given to all the songs, and they perfectly captured the genre they were intended to send-up. Reilly gives both a hilarious and musically brilliant performance as the selfish and completely unaware Dewey. Well worth watching several times to pick up on all the references to other famous musical biopics.
Gary Busey in “The Buddy Holly Story” — Rock historians are quick to point out the inaccuracies and flaws of this 1978 film, but the fact remains that Busey transformed himself into Buddy, and got himself an Oscar nomination for his work. It’s easy to forgive little mistakes here and there when the actor playing one of the most important figures in rock and roll so perfectly nails the vibe and essence of the musician, which is precisely what Busey did. Elements of the movie don’t always hold up, but after over thirty years, it’s still worth popping in the DVD player every now and again.