This page has been archived and is no longer updated.Find out more about page archiving.

Everyone has to start somewhere, superstars included. Indeed, there may be more cases of pre-fame celebrities serving apprenticeships as part of the scenery in pop videos than you might have ever expected.

This lot began as extras for established acts, and in some cases later eclipsed their early employers in the fame stakes...

Gym Class Heroes - Cupid's Chokehold (Katy Perry)

Katy Perry was dating singer Travie McCoy of Gym Class Heroes when Cupid's Chokehold went to No. 4 in the Hot 100 in 2005, and there she is in the second video made for the song (shot in 2006) playing his final, successful love interest. The song gave Perry an early taste of exposure, and it was also a boon for British musician Roger Hodgson; Cupid's Chokehold's riff and tune is lifted directly from Supertramp's Breakfast in America, a minor hit stateside for the band in 1979.

In 2008, Perry released her breakthrough single, I Kissed a Girl, the video for which features a pre-fame Kesha.

Bruce Springsteen - Dancing in the Dark (Courteney Cox)

It's difficult to figure out which is the most surprising: that Friends actress Courteney Cox plays the fan summoned up onto stage by Bruce Springsteen at the conclusion of the Dancing in the Dark video, or that the video was directed by Brian De Palma of Scarface and Carrie fame.

Cox's excited leg shaking with the Boss has become an indelible moment of 80s nostalgia, but De Palma was actually hired after Springsteen rejected the first version of the video, which according to Billboard features the singer standing "alone in front of the camera with nothing but a plain white tank top, suspenders, his Jheri curl-like do and some suspect dance moves". Brits may be alarmed by this description, but do note our American cousins like to refer to braces as suspenders.

Suede - Saturday Night (Keeley Hawes)

The British actress Keeley Hawes kept viewers on the edges of their seats playing Home Secretary Julia Montague in the BBC One drama Bodyguard recently. Back in 1997, her roles were more underground - or, more precisely, the London Underground: Hawes played a passenger making her way down an escalator tucking into a bag of chips in Suede's Saturday Night video.

Filmed on a disused platform at Holborn Station, the most discombobulating moment viewed from the future comes when keyboardist Neil Codling appears to use an actual payphone. Hawes also starred in James' She's a Star and The Lightning Seeds' Marvellous during the 90s, some years before becoming a household name in shows like Tipping the Velvet and Ashes to Ashes.

Erasure - Run To The Sun (Jason Statham)

Before making a name for himself as an actor hardman, Jason Statham appeared in Erasure's 1994 video Run to the Sun wearing only a pair of hot pants and spray-painted all over like a male Shirley Eaton from Goldfinger. Statham flexes and gyrates, preparing him for the acting range he'd need for future blockbusters. Interestingly, he played a similar character in The Shamen's Coming Up the previous year, though with less spray and leopard skin pants instead of hot pants.

Blondie - Rapture (Jean-Michel Basquiat)

Last year, as Art News reported, an untitled 1982 work by New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat sold posthumously for $110.5 million at Sotheby's - the highest price yet paid at auction for a work by an American artist. It was a far cry from Basquiat's days as a poor painter scratching a living and making a brief appearance as a DJ in Blondie's Rapture video in 1981.

Basquiat starred alongside Debbie Harry, essentially playing the role of Grandmaster Flash, who is namechecked in the song but didn't make the video shoot. Rapture helped promote the New York hip hop scene to the world and is widely regarded as the first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 to feature what was then a new artform called rapping. Sadly Basquiat died in 1988 from an overdose and never got to enjoy the vast sums his work now commands.

B-52's - Love Shack (RuPaul)

Long before RuPaul presented the hit show RuPaul's Drag Race, and years before he released the single Supermodel (You Better Work), the singer, TV presenter and drag queen was an extra in the video for a B-52's song. And not just any old song - he appeared in 1989's Love Shack, a huge hit by the influential Athens, Georgia new wave four-piece.

The video won an MTV Award for Best Group Video, no doubt helped by RuPaul's contribution. "He got the line-dance going, that's for sure!" singer Fred Schneider told Yahoo! in 2017. Schneider has since written songs for RuPaul, and the B-52's were invited onto Drag Race as guest judges last year.

Holly Valance - Down Boy (Alexa Chung)

Neighbours-star-turned-singer Holly Valance made a decent fist of becoming a bona fide popstar in the early noughties, for four singles at least. Her second song Down Boy reached No. 2 in the UK charts in 2003, and featured the soon-to-be TV presenter, model and fashion guru, Alexa Chung as her chum. Chung was just out of school when the video was shot, writing on Instagram: "That time I was in a Holly Valance video filmed the day I received my AS level results."

Jessie J - Price Tag (FKA twigs)

Tahliah Debrett Barnett, aka FKA twigs, performed as a backing dancer with a number of famous singers before finding an audience herself as a critically acclaimed avant-pop artist. Ed Sheeran and Kylie are two such names, though most notably the Gloucestershire-born singer appeared in Jessie J videos, including Do It like a Dude and, marionette-style, in 2011's Price Tag, complete with strings attached to her arms and feet. The experience left her feeling vexed. "I f*****g hated it," she told the Guardian in 2014. "Do you think I want to be dressed up as a puppet? As a doll, waving? No. But I was paying my dues. I'm sure Jessie had to do rubbish jobs as well before she was where she is now. I was a tiny cog in her wheel. As I'm sure at some point she was a tiny cog in someone else's wheel."

Janet Jackson - That's the Way Love Goes (Jennifer Lopez)

J-Lo has sold 40 million albums and her films are thought to have collectively grossed $3 billion, though she didn't get her big acting break in Money Train until she was 26. Before that, she earned a crust as a dancer, first for boyband sensations New Kids on the Block, and then for Janet Jackson.

The video for That's the Way Love Goes features Janet casually relaxing in her apartment with a posse of friends - all of whom happen to be attractive dancers - and moody male model musicians, who are casually sat on the stairs. Lopez busts some moves in the flat, and then she bust a move for fame and fortune soon after. "She was supposed to do the whole Janet tour, but she only did the That's the Way Love Goes video," Jackson told Vibe magazine in 2001 (via Vogue). "Then she called and she said she wanted out, because she wanted to do her own thing."

The Offspring - She's Got Issues (Zooey Deschanel)

Zooey Deschanel appeared in a video for The Offspring’s She's Got Issues in 1999, a few years before her acting career and music career (in She & Him with M. Ward) took off. The song reached No. 41 in the UK singles charts, though the subject matter hasn't held up well. In a retrospective piece by Noisey in 2015, Emma Garland wrote: "The video handles mental health problems with all the elegance of a horse eating a kebab."

Meat Loaf - Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through (Angelina Jolie)

Angelina Jolie won Best Supporting Oscar for her dramatic turn in Girl, Interrupted in 2000, a movie set in a 1960s psychiatric institution for women. Good prep for that role was appearing in the wild video for Meat Loaf's Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through from 1993. All the Meaty touches are there: the dramatic six-minute fantasy with outrageous, ostentatious sets and Meat clenching his fists in leather gloves? Check. Angels, explosions and a wind machine? Check. Meat Loaf's head appearing to Jolie from inside a dusty jukebox? Check.

The Maleficent actress shares a similar amount of screen time with the artist born Marvin Lee Aday, and the video featured heavily on rotation on MTV, but it would be another seven years before Jolie became properly known to millions in her own right.

Like us on Facebook, on Instagram, or follow us on Twitter

Related links

Added item image
Added, go to My Music to see full list.
More from