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Lights! Camera! Elon! Musk's 5 Best Acting Gigs Ahead Of 'SNL' Appearance

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Lights! Camera! Elon! Musk's 5 Best Acting Gigs Ahead Of 'SNL' Appearance

The arrival of the self-crowned technoking of Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) on “Saturday Night Live” has generated a surplus amount of headlines (nearly a dozen from Benzinga alone).

But as every Elon Musk addict knows, his “SNL” gig isn't his first time as a performer. Indeed, everyone’s favorite pot-puffing, dogecoin-hyping entrepreneur has turned up over the years in popular film and television productions. And while his performances have primarily been cameo appearances where he plays himself, Musk inevitably became the center of attention while on the screen.

For the benefit of those who can’t get enough of Elon Musk, here is a reminder of his five greatest show business triumphs.

"Iron Man 2" (2010): Robert Downey Jr. consulted with Musk for his character of the high tech industrialist-turned-superhero Tony Stark in the 2008 “Iron Man,” and when the sequel was announced Musk gave the filmmakers access to his SpaceX facility for free. In exchange, Musk turned up in a scene when Gwyneth’s Paltrow’s Pepper Potts introduces herself to Musk at a hotel bar in Monte Carlo. Musk commends her on a promotion, and then Downey’s Tony Stark praises Musk for his “Merlin engines.” Musk mentions he has “a good idea for an electric jet,” to which Stark promises “we’ll make it work” before walking away from him.

Musk might have realized he wasn't a crucial element to the script, so he chose to stand out in a wild mismatch of clothing: a white jacket, a red and white striped shirt and black pants. This was a great example of acting with your clothing.

"Machete Kills" (2013) In this sequel to the 2010 “Machete,” the eponymous antihero (Danny Trejo) is recruited by the U.S. president (played by Charlie Sheen, of all people) to take a SpaceX rocket into the galaxy in pursuit of the archvillain Luther Vox (Mel Gibson – a bit more credible casting than President Charlie Sheen).

As Machete walks alone down the passage to the rocketship while wearing a bulky astronaut’s suit, he stops briefly before the company’s owner. Musk extends his hand to Machete and calmly says, “Good luck, Machete. Get the bastard.”

Admittedly, it's not the most complex dramatic role, but Musk looks appropriately corporate in sending off Machete in this unlikeliest of adventures. (Obviously, he was not allowed to repeat his sartorial wackiness from “Iron Man 2.”) In a film overstuffed with big names – Lady Gaga, Cuba Gooding Jr., Amber Heard and Antonio Banderas also turn up – Musk fit in with the mix.

See Also: Could Elon Musk's 'SNL' Hosting Cause A Bump In Tesla Or Dogecoin?

"The Big Bang Theory" (2015): In his biggest role to date (at less than three minutes), Musk turned up in “The Platonic Permutation” episode of the long-running sitcom, playing himself as a Thanksgiving Day volunteer at a homeless shelter tasked with washing dishes. Needless to say, this very non-Elon Musk activity baffles Simon Helberg’s Howard Wolowitz character, who asks what he’s doing at the sink.

“I'm washing dishes,” Musk says. “Well, I was on the turkey line, but I got demoted for being too generous with the gravy.”

Howard’s fanboy hormones go into overdrive and he confides to Musk, “I really want you to adopt me.” Musk agrees to exchange emails with Howard, then closed the scene by lifting a discarded dessert plate and says, “Someone didn't finish their pumpkin pie. Wanna share it with me? And Howard answers: “A partially-eaten piece of pumpkin pie from a homeless shelter with Elon Musk? You bet I do!”

The scene isn’t particularly amusing and the producers of “The Big Bang Theory” ratcheted up the soundtrack to such a level that the mild line deliveries and the blaring canned reaction create a seismic disconnect. And while Musk’s grasp of the dialogue is a bit clunky, he nonetheless offers a good-natured stroll through the mediocre material, presenting a cordial but reserved demeanor that gives him the aura of a visiting wise man on a brief detour through a dum-dum sitcom.

"Why Him?" (2016) Musk turns up in this comedy film about a father (Bryan Cranston) trying to stop his daughter from marrying an immature tech millionaire named Laird (James Franco).

Musk’s brief scene takes place at a dance club bar, where he overhears that Cranston’s character is from Michigan. “Are you in the car business?” he asks. Musk identifies himself (of course) and asks Cranston how he knows Laird. When informed Laird is dating his daughter, Musk smirks, grabs his drink and says “Uh oh. Nice knowing you” before quickly walking away.

Unlike the labored dialogue in “The Big Bang Theory,” Musk actually gets a real laugh with his brief but effective reaction to the situation that is plaguing his fellow bar denizen.

"Young Sheldon" (2017) Musk turned up in this spinoff of “The Big Bang Theory” in an episode entitled “A Patch, a Modem and a Zantac.” The whole episode appears to exist solely for Musk’s presence. Set in 1989 Texas, elementary school student Sheldon Lee Cooper engages in a battle of wits with a visiting NASA scientist to prove it's possible to create a landing rocket, thus enabling its multiple usages instead of having it jettisoned into the ocean following the takeoff propulsion.

The payoff joke of the episode is a flashforward to a then-contemporary CNN report showing a SpaceX rocket in a perfect return landing to a platform. Musk shows up in his SpaceX office reading the 1989 handwritten notebook by Sheldon to prove how it works. When his secretary buzzes him for a CNN interview to discuss his scientific breakthrough, Musk unhappily shoves the child’s notebook into a desk drawer and inhales the heavy air of guilt.

It's a true laugh-out-loud moment in an otherwise so-so sitcom episode, and the best on-camera work that Musk has created.

(Elon Musk and Simon Helberg in “The Big Bang Theory.” Photo courtesy of CBS.)

 

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