From 'Purple Rain' to 'Batman,' the late music legend made a considerable impact on the silver screen
Credit: Warner Bros/Everett Collection

Though he will be remembered for his contributions to music, late entertainment icon Prince, who died Thursday, also made his mark on the film industry as an actor, director, and composer. Whether it was making films like Under the Cherry Moon or contributing to the soundtrack of movies like Purple Rain and Happy Feet, the superstar punctuated his multi-hyphenate career with memorable works on arena stages and movie screens alike.

Revisit some of Prince’s most memorable movie moments below.

1. Purple Rain (1984)

Prince won his first and only Academy Award for contributing the namesake track to the 1984 feature film Purple Rain. The singer also starred in the film, directed by Albert Magnoli, which tells the story of a struggling musician coping with a tumultuous home life and a blossoming romance as he enters the realm of music stardom. Purple Rain marked Prince’s first lead role in a narrative film, opening at No. 1 at the U.S. box office and grossing $68 million domestically. The film’s titular single subsequently reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

2. Under the Cherry Moon (1986)

Two years after carrying Purple Rain to success with his acting and music, Prince turned his attention toward directing with the feature-length, black-and-white period film Under the Cherry Moon in 1986. The musical drama stars Prince and Jerome Benton as a pair of gigolos who seduce wealthy French women. Kristin Scott Thomas costars as an heiress Prince’s character falls in love with. The film was a financial and critical failure, grossing only $10 million at the domestic box office and earning 7 Razzie Award nominations. Prince directed the film with prolific cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, who previously framed Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, John Sayles’ Baby It’s You, and multiple films for Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Ballhaus would go on to shoot films like Working Girl, Quiz Show, Air Force One, and The Departed.

3. Sign ‘o’ the Times (1987)

Following his narrative directorial debut, Prince wrote and helmed the 1987 concert film Sign ‘o’ the Times as a means to bolster sales for his floundering album of the same name. The documentary chronicled Prince and his band as they performed in Europe as part of the Sign ‘o’ the Times Tour. The film features extensive footage of the musician’s touring band members, including dancer Cat Glover and drummer Sheila E.

4. Batman (1989)

The singer famously scored Warner Bros.’ first Batman film in 1989. The soundtrack features a collection of late ‘80s insta-hits, including the funkadelic “Batdance,” a last-minute replacement that later launched to the top of the charts and scored Prince his fourth No. 1 single. The record took top reign of Billboard’s albums chart for six consecutive weeks, and has since sold over 11 million copies worldwide, while the wildly applauded film earned over $400 million at the box office.

5. Graffiti Bridge (1990)

Prince left an indelible mark on Graffiti Bridge, his 1990 sequel to Purple Rain. The pop pioneer wrote, directed, and starred in the rock drama, which rejoins troubled Revolution frontman The Kid as he fights to save his nightclub, Glam Sam. Though the film itself didn’t fare well commercially, the soundtrack had sizeable success, peaking at No. 6 on the U.S. charts. “[It’s] just a whole bunch of songs,” Prince told Rolling Stone of the collection. “Nobody does any experiments or anything like that. But I still want to know how it stands up to the other albums. I’m always going forward, always trying to surprise myself. It’s not about hits. I knew how to make hits by my second album.”

6. Pretty Woman (1990)

A Prince song featured in a candid scene between the fierce and lovable Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) and her charismatic corporate suitor Edward Lewis (Richard Gere). After spending their first night together in Edward’s hotel, Vivian lounges in a massive bubble bath while belting a rough rendition of the icon’s 1986 hit, “Kiss.”

7. Showgirls (1995)

Though he doesn’t physically appear in the film, Prince recorded two songs for Paul Verhoeven’s so-bad-it’s-good 1995 cult classic Showgirls. The music legend wrote, performed, produced, and arranged “319” and the reggae-tinged “Ripopgodezippa,” both of which appear throughout the film’s 131-minute runtime. While it isn’t on the film’s official soundtrack, “319” can be heard when Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) is seen dancing on stage for the first time.

8. Girl 6 (1996)

Prince lent his musical prowess to Spike Lee’s Girl 6, a 1996 comedy about an aspiring actress who turns to a job as a phone sex operator in order to make ends meet. His sometimes bleak, sometimes sexy pop funk sizzlers serve as the perfect soundtrack to the film, which features a smorgasbord of B-sides, early hits, and previously unreleased tunes.

9. Happy Feet (2006)

Prince earned a Golden Globe and Grammy nomination for contributing the original track “Song of the Heart” to the soundtrack of the 2006 animated feature Happy Feet. The bass-heavy, horn-tinged tune features vocals from the film’s cast, including Nicole Kidman, Elijah Wood, Hugh Jackman, and Robin Williams. Happy Feet, which tells the story of a young, vocally-challenged penguin struggling to find his place among his peers, all of whom find their mates through the art of song. The film’s soundtrack also features contributions from P!nk, Beach Boys, and k.d. lang. With strong critical reviews, Happy Feet went on to gross almost $400 million worldwide.

10. Rush Hour 3 (2007)

In Rush Hour 3, Chris Tucker offers a rendition of Prince’s seductive “Do Me, Baby,” a 1982 entry that highlights the artist’s penchant for erotic lyrics. The comedic actor does an impromptu song-and-dance to the ditty, pelvic thrusting as he directs traffic in the opening credits.

Pretty Woman
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