This week, the Interweb nearly imploded upon making the latent but awesome discovery that "Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills" starlet Lisa Vanderpump once played the femme fatale in that classic early-MTV music video, "Poison Arrow" by ABC. But of course, Miss 'Pump is not the first actor (if she can be called that) to moonlight in a music vid. Many actual A-listers have also rocked the small screen this way, and while some of these appearances are well-known (Scarlett Johansson in Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around," Jennifer Love Hewitt in Enrique Iglesias's "Hero," Charlize Theron in Brandon Flowers' "Crossfire," Julia Roberts in Dave Matthews' "Dreamgirl", Christopher Walken in Fatboy Slim's "Weapon Of Choice"), other video cameos by stars like Katie Holmes never got such wide screenings back in the day.
So here are the top 10 most surprising music video celebrity sightings in recent memory. Who knew that these respected thespians had so much in common with video vixens like Tawny Kitaen?
1) Katie Holmes in The Flys' "Got You Where I Want You"
Back in 1998, long before Katie was making Tom Cruise jump all over Oprah's sofa, she was jumping off a cliff with a pack of angsty alt-rock kids in this little-seen video, from her little-seen flick Disturbing Behavior, by little-heard grunge band the Flys. (Her film co-star James Marsden also appeared with her in the vid.) Check Katie out in her ragamuffin Joey Potter days, running around in bare dirty feet during some quite comically gratuitous slow-mo tank-top shots. Since nowadays we're all used to seeing Mrs. Cruise in full-on Stepford Wife/fashionista mode, it's kind of refreshing to see Katie letting it all hang loose here. But surely Tom would not approve!
2) Nicole Kidman in Pat Wilson's "Bop Girl"
Back in 1983, Tom Cruise's other famous love interest took on the titular role in the video for this Australian one-hit wonder. She was only 15 years old at the time, and it was her acting debut; in a case of life imitating art, she portrayed an up-and-coming starlet. Eleven years later, this video was featured in a Kidman documentary and became a hit in Australia all over again.
3) Natalie Portman in Devendra Banhart's "Carmensita"
Before she hooked up with her hot man-in-tights fiancé on the set of Black Swan, Natalie confounded all of Hollywood by dating hirsute psychedelic rocker Devendra Banhart and starring in his bizarre Bollywood-inspired "Carmensita" video, which for reasons unknown required Natalie to lip-synch to Spanish-language lyrics and frolic in "I Dream Of Jeanie" pantaloons. Hey, at least the results were still more watchable than Your Highness!
4) Winona Ryder in the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's "Talk About The Blues"
Natalie's Black Swan co-star Winona has a long history of dating rock stars, but she made quite a convincing rock star herself when she took centerstage in this fascinating low-budget clip by this venerable underground New York trio. She truly channeled frontman Jon Spencer's wild-eyed bluesman persona...while actors Giovanni Ribisi and John C. Reilly backed her up on (mimed) bass and drums. Why didn't these three actors ever start a real band?
5) Joan Collins in Badly Drawn Boy's "Spitting In The Wind"
Dame Joan put on the drama-queen performance of a lifetime here, as she crawled the walls of some palatial estate in mid-breakdown, while Mancunian songwriter Damon Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy) used the power of song and harmonica-soloing to snap her out of her funk. By the end, she returned in glorious, full-on Alexis Carrington mode, her dynasty restored. All that was missing was a Crystal Carrington catfight...but maybe Badly Drawn Boy can cast Linda Evans in his next video.
6) Christina Hendricks in Everclear's "One Hit Wonder"
Before she was rocking glamorous girdles and sweater sets on "Mad Men," the future Joan Holloway sported a much grungier image, compete with riot-grrrl bob and baby-tee, in this 1998 clip. (Ironically, back then Wink Martindale was actually the bigger star; he too played a role in this game-show-themed video.) Christina later returned as a decidedly more glamorous video girl in Broken Bells' "The Ghost Inside" in 2010.
7) Gwyneth Paltrow in Melissa Etheridge's "I Want To Come Over"
Long before she was making beautiful music with her Coldplay-fronting rock-star husband Chris Martin, or attempting to launch her own singing career, Gwyneth played an angst-ridden, kohl-eyed rocker girl in this dark clip; she was surprisingly convincing. Interestingly, at the time Gwyneth was dating Brad Pitt; a few years later, Etheridge hired Jennifer Aniston to star in her "I Want To Be In Love" video. Coincidence?
8) Angelina Jolie in Meat Loaf's "Rock & Roll Dreams Come Through"
Most people know Angelina appeared in the Rolling Stones' "Anybody Seen My Baby" and Lenny Kravitz's "Stand By My Woman" videos...but did you know that in the early '90s she starred in an epic clip by Meat Loaf? Angelina practically deserves her own MTV Video Vanguard VMA trophy at this point.
9) Elisha Cuthbert in Weezer's "Perfect Situation"
In this high-concept 2006 clip, the Girl Next Door star played Weezer's original, fictional lead singer (back when they were supposedly called just "Weeze"), before she was booted out of the band for her diva attitude and replaced with a former roadie named Rivers Cuomo. It kind of makes you wonder what direction this geek-chic band might have taken if they really had been fronted by a pretty blonde bombshell, instead of by a guy who looked just like Buddy Holly.
10) Robert Downey Jr. in Elton John's "I Want Love"
Robert unexpectedly landed his first post-rehab acting job in 2001 in this video, a compulsively watchable one-take clip in which he lip-synched lines like "a man like me, so irresponsible" and "a man like me is dead in places other men feel liberated" with total conviction. Soon, Robert's career was back on track; maybe this video reminded Hollywood's casting directors just how great an actor he always was. (Later, Sir John did the same favor for future actor Justin Timberlake, when he cast JT as a young '70s Elton in the video for "This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore." )
BONUS CLIP: Macaulay Culkin in Sonic Youth's "Sunday"
The former child star, once seen hanging out with Michael Jackson in the "Black Or White" video, earned some indie cred when he starred in this unsettling vid by NYC's finest noise-rockers. Clearly Mac was all grown up, but it was still hard not to half-expect him to slap the slides of his face and scream, Home Alone-style, in that opening scene...