The Secretly Brilliant Acting Career of Iggy Pop

We all know the onstage force of nature that is Iggy Pop. But the Stooges frontman and godfather of punk doesn’t confine his unique charisma to the stage. For decades, he’s also graced movie theaters large and small with his signature presence.

Now, he’s producing PUNK a four-part documentary series about the music and is appearing as the undead in the dark comedy zombie film The Dead Don’t Die coming out June 14.

The Dead Don’t Die trailer

The man born James Osterberg Jr. has 58 acting credits on IMDB, with many arising out of his close relationships with cult-favorite directors like Jim Jarmusch and John Waters. If you’ve been lucky enough to see Iggy and The Stooges live, either back in their heydays or even more recently like during their last tour in 2013, then you know that Iggy is a performer.

He debuts in the 1969 short film Nico: Evening of Light, made for German actress/model/singer and Velvet Underground singer Nico. Pop appears in whiteface carrying a large cross, making out with bloody mannequins and praising Nico. It’s beautiful, yet so extremely artsy that it’s difficult to really pin down the meaning. But then again, that was just how Nico was.

Nico: Evening of Light

While it was a simple role with no dialogue, the weird arthouse picture was a perfect introduction to the acting abilities of Iggy Pop.

Pop appeared on TV series like Hold Tight! and the film Sid and Nancy before he landed his first big-time role in John Waters’ 1990 film Cry-Baby. The 1950s-set movie-musical starred Johnny Depp as the sensitive greaser bad boy with Iggy Pop as his lovable trailer-trash step-grandfather turned father. Pop and Depp would share the screen again in the Jim Jarmusch film Dead Man in 1995 where Jarmusch cast Pop as a deranged cross-dressing frontier drifter.

Iggy Pop in ‘Cry-Baby’

After that collaboration with Jarmusch, the two worked together again with the 1993 anthology film Coffee and Cigarettes. The film started as an art project by Jarmusch in 1986 called Strange to Meet You and featured friends chatting over coffee and cigarettes. He eventually got enough clips of friends chatting over coffee and cigarettes, like Bill Murray and Wu Tung Clan or Steven Wright and Roberto Benigni, to make a full-length feature. Pop was featured chatting in a diner with Tom Waits where they both admit to having quit smoking, and can, therefore, enjoy a cigarette from time to time.

Iggy Pop & Tom Waits in ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’

Pop will again be sharing the screen with Tom Waits in the upcoming Jarmusch film The Dead Don’t Die. The trailer shows that the movie’s zombies tend to gravitate towards what they enjoyed while alive and, in perhaps a call-back to Coffee and Cigarettes, zombie Pop is shown growling the word “coffee.” Simply brilliant for any Iggy Pop fan.