Tom Petty was an exceptional musician, and one of the greatest creative minds of the last 50 years. But, as well as being a hugely successful, influential, and talented musician, Petty’s love of performing also led to him getting work as an actor as well. You might not know it, but Petty had an acting career that began in 1978, and his list screen performance was a cameo in 2010.
When Tom Petty recently passed away, we thought it would be the perfect time to revisit the star’s back catalog. After listening to all the best hits from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and The Traveling Wilburys, we decided it would be a good idea to check out some of Tom’s best and most memorable roles in film and television too. Here are a few of his best roles on the big and small screen for you to check out!
The Simpsons (1989-Present)
The hallmark of cool in modern Americana is getting asked to do a guest spot on The Simpsons. The animated classic is one of the best and most beloved shows in America and continues to be popular to this day. Tom Petty snagged a cameo role on The Simpsons in 2002, when he appeared in the season 14 episode “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation”. Petty plays a spoof version of himself in the show, and tutors Homer on the art of writing great lyrics. It’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek role, and one fans will love.
King of the Hill (1997-2010)
King of the Hill was one of the great American animated sitcoms and one that paved the way for the likes of Family Guy. Voted as one of the finest sitcoms ever, King of the Hill took the more mundane everyday aspects of family life, and made them funny. Tom Petty had a regular and recurring role in the show as the voice of Elroy “Lucky” Kleinschmidt, a role he played from 2004-2009. Voice acting in 28 episodes, the majority of Petty’s career as an actor was on this show, and he’s a welcome addition.
Made in Heaven (1987)
Petty made a small appearance in the 1987 fantasy-comedy Made in Heaven. The movie, directed by Alan Rudolph was one of the indie gems of the 1980s and is certainly a film that deserves to be discovered. The movie follows a boy who runs away to California and dies while trying to save a family who are drowning. Petty has a one-scene cameo in the movie, as a character called Stanky who gets robbed at a bar. The movie is actually not bad, and Petty has some dialogue as well.
The Postman (1997)
Kevin Costner’s underrated post-apocalyptic neo-Western has a lot to love, even though it was derided by critics on its release, and deemed a box office failure. The movie is nowhere near as bad as people remember it being, and there is also a great cameo from Petty as the Bridge City Mayor. He basically plays an exaggerated future version of himself. But he looks great and fits well into the look and feel of the movie, and his turn is both fun and memorable. In fact, we would even go so far as to suggest watching the movie purely on the basis of his cameo.
Most performers excel in all areas of the performing arts, and Tom Petty was no exception to this. As well as being a skilled and accomplished musician, Petty also had a passion for acting, as evidenced by his career cameos and voice work in film and television. It’s a shame that Petty didn’t perform more acting roles over the course of his career, but the ones he did are great fun to watch.