25 Movie Stars Turned Musicians
First we watched them on the big screen, many of them -- like Kevins Bacon and Costner, Gwyneth Paltrow and Johnny Depp -- reaching mega-star success. But that wasn't enough. No, these movie stars-turned-musicians wanted to express themselves with a mic or a guitar, parlaying their success into the music world.
In honor of this weekend's Oscars, which take place on Sunday (March 2), we've picked out 25 awesome movie stars-turned-musicians. Some moved from the silver screen to the stage and never looked back while others keep music on the side (you may not even know they're musicians), but all of them have seriously rocked after making their names in the movies.
Paltrow's musical talents are a fairly new discovery. First she dipped into the country world, starring in Country Strong and performing at the 2010 CMAs with Vince Gill to perform the film's title track. But her censored take on Cee Lo's "F**k You" on "Glee" -- and their Muppet-rific 2011 Grammy performance together -- will be what everyone remembers. It's too bad that a collaboration with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin isn't too likely these days.
Long before she was on "American Idol" every week, Jennifer Lopez was just a Fly girl on TV's "In Living Colour." So if we're getting technical, she was a dancer before her breakout role portraying famed Mexican pop star Selena -- an endeavor that fittingly led into her own music career. Seven albums (and what feels like a million rom-coms) later, J.Lo is now a part of Spanglish television. "Q'Viva The Chosen," with ex-hubby Marc Anthony, debuted in 2012.
There's no doubt Jamie Foxx beautifully channeled the spirit of Ray Charles on the big screen, but the actor continued to show off his musical skills by releasing four R&B albums since -- and charting in the top 10 with 2006's "Unpredictable" and 2009's "Blame It." Coincidentally, Foxx's biggest musical splash has been his collaboration on Kanye West's "Gold Digger," on which he sings a Ray Charles-esque hook.
Gladiator stud Russell Crowe has some notable swagger up his sleeve, so we can believe the Aussie actor has quite the rock'n'roll frontman history. 30 Odd Foot of Grunts (TOFOG) formed in Australia in the early nineties before Crowe found success stateside, and the band later evolved into Russell Crowe & the Ordinary Fear of God, who have loose plans to release a new album and tour in the future.
Those unacquainted with the world of bluegrass music may be scratching their heads at this choice, but Steven Martin has actually won a Grammy (best bluegrass album for The Crow in 2010) for his musical accomplishments. It's nice to see funny guy Martin staying true to his instrument, as the banjo was a staple of his early stand-up comedy act. And if you're keeping track, he's also an accomplished novelist.
The sexy Lost In Translation actress attempted to take on the grizzly-voiced legend Tom Waits in 2008 with a cover album titled Anywhere I Lay My Head. Even after an underwhelming response to her Waits covers, Johansson teamed with singer-songwriter Pete Yorn on Break Up, a collaborative album inspired by Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot just a year later. She continues to contribute vocals to miscellaneous, mostly small scale projects.
Diner proved Kevin Bacon could act; Footloose showed he could dance; and the Bacon Brothers shows the Oscar-nominated entertainer can sing, too. A slew of albums and a duet with the Bellamy Brothers later, the Brothers Bacon are still rocking out with country-tinged jams.
For years, Jared Leto was most know for being the gorgeous, clueless Jordan Catalano on the short-lived, but much beloved mid-'90s teen drama My So-Called Life. But even while he was projecting his angst on the sound stage, Leto's real aspiration was to take his talent to the music stage. The same year MSCL was cancelled, Leto formed alt-rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars, who rose to platinum prominence with their 2005 album A Beautiful Lie and in 2013, released their Virgin Records swan song Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams. While the band has been successful, Leto has not turned his back on acting. He's appeared in several films over years, including 2007's Chapter 27, where he portrayed John Lennon killer Mark David Chapman and 2013's Dallas Buyers Club, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
William Shatner is a man of many talents: Star Trek alum, the "Priceline Negotiator," and most important for our purposes, speak-singer extraordinaire. Shatner's distinct take on hit songs dates back to 1968, when he released his first album, The Transformed Man. His rendition of Bob Dylan's "Tambourine Man" remains a cult classic, trailed closely by his version of Elton John's "Rocket Man." Check him out here, recently nailing Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse Of The Heart."
Consider us completely unsurprised that the 500 Days of Summer actress and the star of FOX's The New Girl,, who looks like a hipster Katy Perry, is in an indie rock band. She & Him, Deschanel's collaboration with folk guitar hero M. Ward, has given the world three delightfully retro records since 2008, including a Christmas album in 2011. Their third non-holiday offering, titled Volume 3, dropped in 2013 and they're already planning a new album for this year for new label home Columbia.
Considering his success with "mock rock" duo Tenacious D, Jack Black is more-than qualified for his numerous film roles as a musician (School of Rock, High Fidelity, The Holiday). His collaboration with Kyle Gass has spawned notable frat-boy anthems including "Tribute" and "Wonderboy" -- but more importantly, several truly epic music videos that will go down in history, including "Kickapoo" (which you can watch here), which features rocker Meatloaf.
When Bruce Willis released his covers album The Return of Bruno on Motown Records in 1987, we had no idea Bruno had gone anywhere -- mostly just because we were still collectively scratching our head over who Bruno was. But as we saw, nothing can keep Bruce -- or his R&B alter-ego, Bruno -- away from the music. Well, except a mega-successful film career.
Years before LiLo's Hollywood misbehaving became front-page fodder for tabloids, she was a budding teen actress who longed to channel her movie-star status into pop gold. After recording a few songs for movie soundtracks, Lohan made her first real attempt at the charts with 2004's platinum-selling Speak, which included several songs co-written by American Idol alum Kara DioGuardi. A second album, A Little More Personal, followed in 2005 that included the No. 1 dance single "Bossy."
While Keanu Reeves' alt-rock band Dogstar will never live up to his film legacy of The Matrix and Speed -- we'll never forget one of his earliest major roles was as an aspiring rocker (Wylde Stallyns!) in 1989's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure -- the bassist gave his music career a chance in the 1990s and early 2000s with two albums and an opening slot for Bon Jovi. If nothing else, Dogstar gave nerd-rockers Weezer their first show ever, as their opener at a 1992 Dogstar show in L.A.
Bowling may have been The Dude's thing in Jeff Bridges' famous The Big Lebowski role, but one of the actor's many hobbies includes dabbling in music and touring when he can. His musical abilities have aided him in certain roles, most notably as a country singer in Crazy Heart, and he also appeared on the 2010 remake of We Are the World.
The image of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams going at it in the rain in The Notebook will forever be etched in many women's minds. And if Gosling had it his way, his songs with Dead Man's Bones would be just as indelible. We're not sure about that, but the folk-rock duo's 2009 debut album, which featured a children's choir throughout, was memorable.
Juliette Lewis' look and attitude scream "rock star" more than Oscar-nominated actress, so it's fitting that Lewis' current focus is on her music career. The Cape Fear and What's Eating Gilbert Grape actress tears up the stage with rough-around-the-edges swagger when she performs with her new band the New Romantiques, previously rocking the same vibe with former act Juliette Lewis & the Licks.
Eddie Murphy's comedic legacy is undeniable, yet the SNL funnyman certainly didn't laugh over his biggest hit, 1985's "Party All the Time," as much as music fans did. The so-bad-it's-good track, produced by Rick James, features Murphy pondering why his lady friend is so promiscuous. But the Beverly Hills Cop actor didn't stop there: He released two more albums of pop and R&B following his hit.
Former Phantom Planet drummer Jason Schwartzman can't seem to make up his mind about whether he's a musician or an actor, though he's currently focusing on the former. His HBO comedy Bored to Death was cancelled after a three-year run in 2011, but h's currently involved in a TV-movie reboot. Hopefully, won't stop Schwartzman, who scored his first role at age 17 in Wes Anderson's Rushmore, from putting out music from his solo project, Coconut Records, on the side.
Hilary Duff is surprisingly masterful at moving from one field to another. She rode the wave of her Lizzie McGuire success straight into a film and music career via the Disney Channel show's official movie and its soundtrack, which featured her hit debut single, "Why Not." Duff was on top of the teen world for a while, scoring three platinum albums in the mid-2000s, starring in the Cheaper By the Dozen films and launching her own clothing lines. And she's back! She recently dropped her comeback single "Chasing the Sun" to tease her forthcoming 2014 studio album.
Kevin Costner possesses the tan and friendly face of a picture-perfect country singer, so slap a cowboy hat on the Field of Dreams actor and he's ready to take Nashville. His band, Kevin Costner and Modern West, kicked off with a bang in 2007, completing a worldwide tour including stops at major NASCAR races. The band's debut album, Untold Truths, followed in 2008, making minor waves on the Billboard country charts.
Art imitated... art when Michael Cera joined Sub Pop group Mister Heavenly as its bassist in late 2010. The actor, who got his start as George Michael Bluth on Arrested Development, played the role of nerdy-hipster bassist in films including Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.
Billy Bob Thornton
Sling Blade was his masterpiece; Angelina Jolie was his tabloid fodder; music became his side gig. Armageddon actor Billy Bob Thornton's career as a singer-songwriter spans three country albums, and a stint fronting blues-rock cover band, Tres Hombres, before moving on to the rockabilly stilings of The Boxmasters in 2007.
Jenny Lewis once told Billboard that she's had "a very bizarre American life," and the child actress-turned-indie rock icon hit the nail on the head. Standouts in her film career include teen films Troop Beverly Hills and The Wizard, as well as a minor role in Pleasantville. Soon after, she transitioned into Los Angeles' rock world, bonding with fellow Rilo Kiley bandmate Blake Sennett, a fellow child actor who appeared on Boy Meets World and Salute Your Shorts. After Rilo Kiley officially broke up, she toured with the Postal Service on their Give Up reunion tour and just dropped an excellent solo album, The Voyager.
Any musical talent Johnny Depp possesses will always be overshadowed by his international sex symbol status and emoting chops, but that doesn't stop the actor from trying. He played guitar in the short-lived '90s project P, which included Butthole Surfers frontman Gibby Haynes and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and has recorded solo work on his guitar and performed alongside big rock names like Iggy Pop and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. It somehow makes him even more irresistible to women.