When Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk hits Cineworld this July, there will be one name alongside fan favourites Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy that might surprise you.
Tucked away within that first feature length trailer is one Harry Styles. A man of singular direction, possessor of boy band charisma in buckets and pretender to the Bowie throne. Combining the self-awareness and physical posturing of a latter day Mick Jagger, Harry is defined by reality television success and possesses the sort of charisma to grab the mighty Nolan’s attention.
With that in mind here is our list of silver screen-stealing musical icons past and present, ones who nabbed their respective movies from under the nose of the A-listers.
7. David Bowie
The movie: The Prestige
In his most polished movie role outside of Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Bowie’s Nikola Tesla displays a quiet self-assurance and muted cadence delivered in the clipped tones befitting a man of science.
As a swan song this last great screen outing is low-key, character-driven and less about David Bowie the man and more about David Jones the actor. Made between Christopher Nolan's first two Batman films the movie still retains an air of mystery, combining an unlikely twist with gripping, understated performances.
6. Justin Timberlake
The movie: The Social Network
Justin Timberlake has fronted one of the most successful boy bands in America, forged new ground as a solo artist and broke into films with careful choices.
That he remains approachable, level-headed and unstintingly honest is perhaps more surprising. But then anyone who appeared in Oscar-storming success The Social Network is clearly something special. That revered veteran David Fincher could see something else within JT is both a testament to the latter's acting skills and the director's vision.
In the below clip you get a taste of what he brought to the movie. He not only holds his own against the likes of Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, but effortlessly owns it, bringing nuance, poise and panache. Supported by an Aaron Sorkin script and deftly guided by Fincher, Timberlake worked within this ensemble crossing over into the acting elite.
The movie: 8 Mile
Marshall Mathers and his contribution to music dare not be ignored. That he changed the way people think about rap music by lacing his songs with pitch black humour, linguistically sophisticated lyrics and honesty earns him a place here.
Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile took this appeal and expanded his persona into a semi-autobiographical lead role featuring solid support from Kim Basinger. Mathers maintains a level of intensity throughout, showcasing that lyrical skill and holding up his dramatic end of the bargain. Not to mention dominating every scene he steps in including the pivotal rap battles showcased above.
4. David Bowie
The movie: Labyrinth
For Jim Henson's beloved 1986 fantasy adventure Bowie slipped on some tight trousers and fought muppets for screen credit. But all jokes aside Jareth the Goblin King not only broadened his appeal, it also moved him away from more serious fare and demonstrated his versatility.
After vampire flick The Hunger and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, acting opposite Jennifer Connelly and Henson’s creature workshop helped chalk up another memorable Bowie performance. The movie also incorporated a soundtrack of catchy tunes and further highlighted his chameleon-like qualities.
3. Tina Turner
The movie: Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
In at number three (and sporting enormous jumper cable earrings) comes pop royalty Tina Turner, scene-stealing her way through Mad Max threequel Beyond Thunderdome.
Featuring a chiselled Mel Gibson on huge bungie cords inside a reengineered Crystal Maze battling oddballs, it remains the weakest of George Miller’s original trio. But what Thunderdome will be remembered for are those four inch heels, three foot shoulder pads and gaggle of rabid minions chanting "break a deal face the wheel".
Not only did Tina chew up the screen but her theme song also made a mint.
2. David Bowie
The movie: The Man Who Fell To Earth
A man who built his career on reinventing himself through character creation, it was only a matter of time before Bowie made his best screen debut.
Directed by Nicolas Roeg, The Man Who Fell To Earth showcased his androgynously alien appeal as he portrayed a visitor stranded on Earth who becomes an alcoholic. Bowie was self-assured, understated and provocatively playing on his public image of the time. He more than held his own opposite established veterans in nuanced dialogue scenes, investing Roeg’s film with a unique presence.
1. Mick Jagger
The movie: Performance
At number one is rock band pensioner, full time Casanova and original silver screen wannabe, Sir Mick.
Forty seven years young and still as contentious as ever his debut movie is a psychedelic head spinner featuring Jagger in full lothario mode, getting naked, smoking weed and popping pills. There were other films after this through into the Eighties, but none came close to reproducing what Nicholas Roeg captured on camera.
Holed up in London for months filming with Keith Richard’s girlfriend Anita Pallenberg, Performance remains pivotal due to Jagger’s electrifying portrayal of excess. Acting for the first time he consumed the screen, leaving an indelible mark and laying a solid foundation for others to follow.
Whether Dunkirk boy band player Harry Styles becomes the next Bowie, Jagger or Timberlake, only time will tell. Either way we'll find out when the movie hits Cineworld on 21st July.
Martin Carr is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.