When Miami Vice is thought of now, it may call to mind lazy, rerun-filled afternoons spent marveling at an incredible assortment of hairstyles and sports jackets, a tidal wave of synth melodies, and Michael Mann’s return to the ‘80s series with a feature film adaptation of the same name in 2006.
What we don’t immediately remember, though, is just how many celebrities appeared on the show over the length of its five-season run. A supercut documenting 55 of these guest spots, published on the (surprisingly active) Miami Vice YouTube channel, helps jog the memory.
Some of these guest stars include the kind of early career actors you might expect to pop up on TV shows of the time. There’s Lou Diamond Phillips, Pam Grier, John Turturro, and Ed O’Neill. There’s Richard Jenkins, Dennis Farina, and Michael Richards.
There are also some of our most famous modern actors among the guest spots. We see Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson, and Stanley Tucci play minor characters. Steve Buscemi, Helena Bonham Carter, Chris Rock, and Benicio Del Toro all appear in scenes. We also get Viggo Mortenson, Bruce Willis, and Ben Stiller wearing a whole bunch of gold chain necklaces.
The best, though, are the less expected musical cameos. Frank Zappa, for example, shows up to demand three million dollars from Don Johnson’s Sonny Crockett. Leonard Cohen menaces as a French-speaking villain. Phil Collins pleads for mercy from another criminal. James Brown gets questioned during an investigation. Isaac Hayes, Gene Simmons, Barbara Streisand, Little Richard, and Miles Goddamn Davis feature in various scenes, too.
If all of that’s not enough, we suggest checking out one of the compilation’s future stars, Giancarlo Esposito, foreshadowing his later career by playing two different drug dealers. Here are both of his parts, excerpted on their own, with the first soundtracked to the most sinister use of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” we’ve ever witnessed.
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