BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Pop goes their credibility

Pop stars will always hanker after a film career despite a woeful track record. By BBC News Online's Jonathan Duffy.

Moviemaking is a famously inexact science, yet there is one almost indisputable equation - add a pop star to the cast and a film's credibility will plummet.

So it comes as no surprise to learn of the fate of Honest, the new Brit flick which stars three-quarters of the girl group All Saints and was directed by former pop star Dave Stewart.

Savaged by the critics and slapped with an "adults only" 18 certificate, the film has been dropped by dozens of cinemas only a week after it was released.
Björk with Palm d'Or
Oh yes I Cannes! Björk with director Lars von Trier

Having sat through a press screening, one critic commented that the only All Saint to come out of the project with any integrity was Shaznay, because she had nothing to do with it.

So will this serve as a lesson to other pop stars with ambitions to cross over into movie land? Of course not.

Cinema history is littered with singers' laughable attempts to turn stage presence into screen presence.

What spurs them on is the fact that once in a while, they might actually pull it off.

Rock 'n' reel - slated by the critics
Madonna in Shanghai Surprise
Sting in Dune
Phil Collins in Buster
Chris Rea in Parting Shots
Mick Jagger in Ned Kelly

Witness for example Cher, who won an Oscar for her performance in Moonstruck; Jon Bon Jovi, who was praised for his turn in Moonlight and Valentino; or Courtney Love, who acquitted herself well in The People vs Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon.

Last month, singer Björk was the toast of the Cannes film festival for her performance in Dancer in the Dark.

It was a role that had Alan Morrison, associate editor of Total Film magazine, "weeping buckets".

Straight acting

In contrast to most pop star acting efforts, Björk's "performance didn't have any flashiness about it," he says.

"The film involves her in a very emotional way and she made her image and acting performance serve the film, whereas David Bowie in a film like Labyrinth is just pushing David Bowie for his own sake."
Martin Kemp
Walford or bust: Spandau Ballet's Martin Kemp, now an EastEnder

The crossover from music to the movies is pretty obvious, says Mr Morrison. Both sets probably "drink at the same pubs" while pop videos are really just potted films.

Often, the problem is not the musician per se, but the role he or she plays.

"Frequently they just play the public perception of themselves. At times it can work in their favour. I'm sure that the casting of David Bowie in the Man Who Fell to Earth works because he's playing a sort of Ziggy Stardust character."

Likewise Sting's role in 1982's Brimstone and Treacle "worked well because that Dennis Potter weirdness suited his style and delivery".

Now you see me...

Another neat "way in" is the bit part, as evidenced by Blur's Damon Albarn, who appeared as a getaway driver in Face.

Will Smith at the World Music Awards
Will Smith, like Jennifer Lopez, slips effortlessly between music and the movies

And if all else fails, it's hard for critics to carp too much at a deliberate send-up which aims to be nothing more than a shameless marketing gimmick.

On that basis, the Spice Girls acquitted themselves well in the "so bad it's good" Spice World, which itself was a homage to Beatles movies such as A Hard Day's Night and Help!

But former Beatle Paul McCartney faced a far rougher ride from the critics for his 1980s project, Give My Regards to Broad Street. The film, which McCartney wrote and starred in, was seen as the very worst example of rock star excess - a vanity project.

A similar fate befell Prince's Purple Rain and Under the Cherry Moon, and more recently Bono's Million Dollar Hotel.

To many of us, the life of a pop star is unimaginably exciting. But for those already in the business, it remains hard to stick to the day job.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

The Guardian's Derek Malcolm challenges the film's executive producer Keith NorthropAll Saints film flop
Why has Honest bombed?
AUDIO/VIDEO  real 14k
See also:

31 May 00 | Entertainment
All Saints movie flops
21 May 00 | Entertainment
Dancer's surprise win at Cannes
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories