6 Best and Worst Musician Portrayals In Movies
    • FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017

    • Posted by: Robert Steiner

    Earlier this week, Sky Arts debuted the trailer for its new series Urban Myths, which portrays the "true-ish" and often bizarre celebrity stories and legends. While each episode will focus on different stories and celebrities, the show has caused a lot controversy due to the casting of Joseph Fiennes, who is white, as Michael Jackson, who was African-American. However, it was just confirmed that Fiennes' episode will not be aired, due to concerns expressed by Jackson's family. The singer's daughter, Paris Jackson, recently tweeted her disapproval:

    The original trailer:

    Aside from the casting being questionable at best, one look at the trailer shows Fiennes' performance probably won't be heavy on substance or portraying Jackson with dignity. Unfortunately, this is only one of many instances where musicians weren't done justice on screen, but because 2017 is all about staying as positive as we can for the sake of our own sanity, here are both the worst and the best portrayals of musicians in movies.


    Kristen Stewart & Dakota Fanning as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, The Runaways (2010)

    On paper, this thing looked like there was little chance of screwing it up. You had Joan Jett as executive producer, she was even on set for a good portion of filming, and yet this film somehow manages to make the wild, drug-fueled antics of the rebel girl-punk band feel unbearably boring. Kristen Stewart admittedly looks like Joan Jett, but she still keeps up that stone-face delivery we all loved her in Twilight for, and both her and Fanning as Cherie Currie make the film's two leads pouty, uninteresting, and hollow, even when their real-life counterparts were anything but.

    Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin, Beyond the Sea (2004)

    Nothing like some ego with a touch of hubris to make you look like a complete ass for all the world to see. Kevin Spacey probably had good intentions when he set out to direct and star in a film about his idol Bobby Darin, but not even all the Hollywood magic in the world (outside of Botox, of course) could make the then-45-year-old Spacey look like the teenage crooner Darin. Yeah, the dude sounds like Darin, but it's just way too hard to see Spacey as someone half his age, and the whole thing just ends up feeling way too vain and oblivious for its own good.

    Flex Alexander as Michael Jackson, Man In The Mirror (2004)

    Oh look another crappy Michael Jackson portrayal, and this one's over ten years old! Don't feel bad if you dont remember this TV-movie, because there isn't much worth remembering except that it was hated by critics and Jackson fans alike, and failed to tell the King of Pop's full, unbiased story by focusing almost solely on his scandals and personal problems. Aside from not even looking like Jackson, Flex Alexander's ham-fisted performance isn't any better than most Jackson imitators moonwalking for change on the street, making this film only that much harder to watch. This is the one to beat, Joseph Fiennes.


    Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon as Johnny Cash and June Carter, Walk The Line (2005)

    There really was no way to include one without including the other, because Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon both perfectly embody the individual personalities and highly complex relationship between Johnny Cash and June Carter. On one half, you have the grim, brooding man in black, and on the other half, you have the optimistic, positive ray of sunshineand the fact that you can't tell if I'm describing the actors or their characters shows just how perfect the pair was to play one of the most well-known couples in music.

    Sam Riley as Ian Curtis, Control (2007)

    It can be a huge challenge to portray those who lived complicated lives and left little behind to help us understand who they were, but Sam Riley rose to the challenge and practically transformed into troubled Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis. From the standoffish demeanor to the thousand-yard stare to the flailing onstage dancing, Riley perfectly captures all the subtle details and quirks that made Curtis such a vulnerable and a haunting performer. Even if you know nothing about Joy Division or Curtis' short life, Riley's performance makes it completely worth the watch.

    A Ton of People as Bob Dylan, I'm Not There (2007)

    Bear with me on this one, because shit gets complicated: In this intentionally scattered and offbeat music biopic, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Cate Blachett, Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, and Ben Winshaw all play Bob Dylan. That is, they all play different personalities of Dylan, like a train-hopping kid who calls himself Woody Guthrie, a folk singer who gives a voice to the Civil Rights movement, and an ex-folk singer who wants to stay out of politics, just to name a few. Rather than an actor specifically playing Dylan, the film as a whole is Dylan, which makes for a fascinating examination of the notoriously private poet, and is probably the closest we'll ever get to truly understanding who Bob Dylan is.

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