Prince Rogers Nelson, iconic star of music, movies and television, has passed away at the age of 57. Although he was best known for his trademark musical stylings (from his unique voice to his mind-blowing musical talent), Prince was also an actor, a writer, a composer, a producer and a director. He did it all, and damn did he do it with his own incredible style.
In honor of Prince’s copious contributions to the world of entertainment, we reflect back on five of his most memorable (and, in hopes of brightening up a dark day, some of his happiest) turns on the big and small screen.
The Musical Genius of “Purple Rain”
Prince’s best-known contribution to the cinematic world is unquestionably his turn in the 1984 musical classic “Purple Rain.” Playing essentially himself (a young musician on the rise who must deal with a multitude of personal problems while also getting his own career going), Prince’s turn in the film is filled with style, charisma and a soundtrack’s worth of incredible songs. Prince was already a huge star by the time the film came out, but the feature set him apart from his musical brethren, marking him as man of many talents who could direct his skills into a host of different areas. Is the soundtrack from “Purple Rain” the best OST ever? Well, you name another soundtrack that includes other standalone hits on par with the title track, the apocalyptic party anthem “Let’s Go Crazy,” the romantic charmer “I Would Die 4 U” and the heart-stoppping emotion of “When Doves Cry.”
Crafting the Most Original “Batman” Soundtrack Imaginable
Prince’s music, from his beloved songs to original compositions on films like “Graffiti Bridge,” has graced a vast number of movies over the years, but there’s something particularly joyous and indelible about his contributions to the soundtrack of 1989’s “Batman.” Perhaps it’s because of scenes like this one, featuring the Jack Nicholson’s Joker laying waste to precious art while “Partyman” cheerily blares out (such weird dichotomies were the bread and butter of Tim Burton’s take on the franchise). And don’t forget “Batdance,” “Scandalous!” and “The Future.”
Bringing the Classics to a New Generation in “Happy Feet”
Animated penguins who love singing and dancing was always going to appeal to thousands of movie-hungry children, but “Mad Max” mastermind George Miller knew that if “Happy Feet” was going to be the blockbuster he envisioned, then he’d have to sweep the parents off their feet, too. Enter Prince, whose infectious 1986 single “Kiss” provides the movie with its sultry and toe-tapping opening number. With this one song, Miller guaranteed parents would come along for the right, while introducing a new generation to the musical genius of Prince.
Showing off His Uncanny Comedic Timing on “New Girl”
Though Prince has had a number of standout musical moments on television — his Super Bowl halftime show was one of the few to be largely liked, and his appearances on “SNL” as a musical guest (three times) certainly left their mark on the stage — he made a rare acting appearance in 2014’s post-Super Bowl episode of “New Girl,” aptly titled “Prince.” Focusing on Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Cece’s (Hannah Simone) unlikely invitation to a massive party at Prince’s house, the narrative’s best moments were all with the icon himself. The pitch for the episode may have simply been, “Guys, don’t you want to see Zooey Deschanel in a love life training montage with Prince?” It worked, as Prince proved his comedic timing was on par with his natural charisma, making this one Super Bowl aftershow you didn’t want to miss.
Injecting His Pure Prince-ness Into “Under the Cherry Moon”