How Kim Basinger Played Sleeping Beauty in The Best Video of 1994

“I said: “She must be beautiful! Otherwise, why is she dead to him? And the first thing I thought of was Kim Basinger…”

"Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers" - "Mary Jane's Last Dance": the history of the creation of the song and video, interesting facts, references to other works

"Mary Jane's Last Dance" - beautiful romantic composition Tom Petty and his groups "The Heartbreakers" from the album "Wildflowers". The record was produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, but that's not what makes it special: it was the band's last session, featuring original drummer Stan Lynch, who left the line-up in 1994. It is worth noting that Lynch stayed in the group for 18 years! In fact, the song came out before "Wildflowers" - back in 1993, as part of the collection "Greatest Hits". Then a ballad about "Mary Jane" reached the 14th line Billboard Top 20 and led Billboard Album Rock Tracks! It remained at the top of the chart for two weeks and eventually became a popular hit.

Lyrics and true meaning

Tom Petty in 1976. Photo: Richard E. Aaron/ Redferns/ Getty Images
Tom Petty in 1976. Photo: Richard E. Aaron/ Redferns/ Getty Images

For years, fans have wondered what or who the song is about. true meaning "Mary Jane's Last Dance" opened up when the guitarist Mike Campbell said the following in one of his interviews:

“The verses of this song are about a girl from Indiana. But when it comes to the chorus... It can be absolutely anything you want! It had a special deep meaning, which is difficult to interpret. Some people think Mary Jane's Last Dance is about drugs. Well, if you think so, then it is quite possible that you are right... Others are sure that this is a farewell love song. And this theory has a place to be ... "

In the same interview, Campbell stressed that the track was originally titled "Indiana Girl", but in the end it was decided to change it.

Music video

A still from "Mary Jane's Last Dance" (1994) by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Frame from the video "Mary Jane's Last Dance" (1994) by the group "Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers"

A chic music video was filmed for the song, which won the award MTV Video Music Award as "Best Male Video of 1994". The video is still wildly popular, as evidenced by the number of views on YouTube - over 38 million!

The video features Petty himself as a mortuary worker. The beginning, like, in fact, the rest of it, looks pretty creepy, but romantic and aesthetic in its own way. An exciting story begins when petty takes home the body of a beautiful young lady. To many, her face seemed familiar, and for good reason. The role of the mysterious girl performed Kim Basinger - American actress, singer and fashion model! According to the plot, the singer behaves with her as if she were alive: he arranges a dinner by candlelight, dances with her ... It is clear that he is waiting for some result from his actions, but all in vain. Ultimately, the hero loses any faith in miracles and brings the lifeless stranger to the rocky shore. He carefully lowers the body into the sea, being sure that the girl is dead. But in the final scene, the beauty opens her eyes. Unfortunately, Petty does not see this ...

Filming Details

A snapshot from the shooting of "Mary Jane's Last Dance" (1994) by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Snapshot from the shooting of the video "Mary Jane's Last Dance" (1994) by the group "Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers"

On the choice of the main character for the filming of the video Tom Petty said like this:

“I decided:“ She must be beautiful! Otherwise, why is she dead to him? And the first thing I thought of was Kim Basinger…”

As you could already understand Basinger agreed. She later recounted:

“This was the most unusual and at the same time cool thing I have ever done! The heroine of the clip was a kind of doll. But that's not cute at all. I will never forget how heavy that dress was! It's just terrible ... And I had to pretend to be dead all the time, which is also very unusual and strange. It may seem like a simple task, but in fact it is really difficult: to constantly control your breathing, to be absolutely weightless ... "

Kim Basinger
Kim Basinger

When asked why she agreed, the actress replied: "Tom Petty!"

“I didn’t care at all what it was about! I was just shocked when he called me. Tom was incredibly sweet and sensitive, modest, shy… Just like me! And I thought, “I’m shy, he’s shy… We’ll be a great team!” Then I heard the song and just fell in love with it, says Basinger. - During the filming of the video, the director constantly said: “You have to be as dead as possible, you understand?” Tom and I laughed about it, it was really funny to hear! Tom had a great sense of humor. When we shot the video, I was glad that it was over. And I'm very proud to have worked with Tom."


"Red Hot Chili Peppers"
"Red Hot Chili Peppers"

In 2006, an American radio station accused the famous band "Red Hot Chili Peppers" in plagiarism! Allegedly, the band stole the motive of "Mary Jane's Last Dance" (talking about the song Dani California). Petty was advised to sue the RHCP, but he refused. The fact is that both tracks were produced by Rick Rubin, which could affect the similarity of the sound. At the same time, Petty noted that many rock and roll songs are similar in their own way, but this is not a reason to inflate the conflict. However, the Mary Jane plagiarism controversy did not end there.

Rumors later spread that the "Mary Jane's Last Dance" riff was strangely reminiscent of the track's riff. "Waiting for the Sun"released by the group "The Jayhawks" in 1992.

It is worth noting that at that time the team performed as the opening act for Petty.

Interesting Facts

  • Scene from the video where Kim Basinger in a wedding dress is in a room with wax candles, was built on an excerpt from the novel Charles Dickens "Great Expectations". The plot itself bears a clear resemblance to a French film. "Cold Moon", which in turn was inspired by the story Charles Bukowski.
  • The final scene of the clip shows a cave with a fascinating story! Located in State Park Leo Carrillo, California, she has served as an object for the filming of many films and shows!
  • The plot of the video is similar in places to the final episodes of the film. "Crazy Love" 1987 year, which also resembles the already mentioned "Cold Moon".

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