Every actor has to start somewhere, and for these five A-Listers some of their very earliest gigs were starring in music videos. From dreamy country music love interests to “loopy” game show contestants, the roles these young actors were offered by the bands were as diverse as the songs.
Some were only months away from their big break, while others would continue working their way to fame for years – but all 5 gave their all as music video stars.
5 Aaron Paul – Korn, “Thoughtless”
In 2002, Aaron Paul wasn’t yet known as Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad. Instead, the 22 year old actor was taking roles in commercials and music videos – including starring in the music video for the single “Thoughtless” off of Korn’s album Untouchables.
In the video, Aaron Paul plays a severely bullied high schooler. During the video, he experiences a painful supernatural change – soundlessly screaming faces move under his skin. In a reference to the film Carrie, Paul gets his revenge by obliterating his bullies in an unusual way: he vomits on them.
While the video’s budget has never been released, it’s reasonable to assume that they spared no expense. The cost of recording the album Untouchables was a hefty $4 million. Bassist Fieldy explained: “We moved to Phoenix and rented five houses for $10,000 apiece for four months. We came to LA, rented five more houses for $10,000 apiece for four more months. We went to Canada and rented a house for $8000. That’s a week, not a month.”
4 Christina Hendricks – Everclear, “One Hit Wonder”
The video for Everclear’s “One Hit Wonder” (a song the band apparently has never played live) stars a 22 year old Christina Hendricks – 10 years before she would get her iconic role as Joan in Mad Men. This was only the young actor’s second gig – before this she appeared in a TV commercial.
In Everclear’s video, Hendricks played a game show contestant called Loopy. The colorful, larger than life game show is hosted by the real-life TV personality Wink Martindale.
Creating Everclear’s album So Much for the Afterglow was a difficult process, but one thing is undeniable, it was a higher budget production than the Portland alt-rock band had ever had before:
“It was wonderful because I finally had a budget and this is what I dreamed of for years,” said singer/guitarist Art Alexakis, “I was following up a successful record. I knew radio was going to pay attention to this, people were going to write about it. There was pressure on.”
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3 Zooey Deschanel – The Offspring, “She’s Got Issues”
She might’ve been uncredited, but when she was just 18, Zooey Deschanel starred in The Offspring’s “She’s Got Issues.”
With a look that answers the question, “What if Zooey Deschanel had played Ramona Flowers?” she makes breakfast, gets the subway, and goes to work plagued by cartoon monsters. She uses the work printer to print personal photos, causing a fight with her boss. Even her therapist turns into a monstrous pig creature.
The video itself was shot over the course of a few days before the band left for a Japanese tour. Frontman Dexter Holland referred to it as an “anti-video” because of its conceptual nature.
2 Kim Kardashian – Fall Out Boy, “Thnks fr th Mmrs”
What says high budget music video more than chimps, orangutans, and capuchin monkeys prepping the band for their big show?
In this Fall Out Boy video, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz apparently lives in Planet of the Apes type world where the music industry is dominated by apes behind the camera, and he has to fight one of them for Kim Kardashian’s affections.
At the time, Kardashian was primarily known for being friends with Paris Hilton. She agreed to do the video because she was a fan of the band, but has since admitted that working with the animals on set was frightening:
“It was really scary because they’re so strong and you don’t know what they’re gonna do. And in my scene they had to freak out a little bit, so they were freaking me out a little bit when they had to jump up and down and scream.”
1 Matthew McConaughey – Trisha Yearwood ft. Don Henley, “Walkaway Joe”
The year before he appeared in Dazed and Confused, Matthew McConaughey had his second ever gig (the first being a segment of Unsolved Mysteries): the romantic lead in the video for Trisha Yearwood’s “Walkaway Joe.”
“I think it was early 1992, I’m going to college here at the University of Texas,” McConaughey said in an interview, “and I was trying to get odd jobs in front of the camera when I could and I got cast in that music video to play Joe.”
23 year old McConaughey appeared in black and white flashback segments, which don’t feature the singer herself (because they were shot in Texas.) He plays a lover from the singer’s past, who she had a passionate affair with before he abandoned her at a motel. While Yearwood and McConaughey never met in person, she has joked that if he ever feels like being in one of her videos again, she won’t make him audition this time.
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Sources: Blabbermouth, The Spokesman Review, MTV, AV Club, Today, VH1
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