16 Actors Who Sing and Compose Music
Actor Jason Schwartzman credit: wikipedia
There are many singers who have made cameos in film and TV, but did not make the move to becoming full-time actors, preferring to stay in the comfort of the music world. Artists such as Elvis Presley, Sting, David Bowie and Meat Loaf, have all starred in movies alongside singing careers, but are best known for their music first and foremost. Meanwhile, there are actors who once started out as singers or rappers, such as Mark Wahlberg or Ricky Gervais, but have luckily managed to leave that past behind them and forge successful acting careers.
But which actors have managed to take the plunge and hold onto a successful career in both acting and music? We have a look at some of the notable and relatively unknown examples of actors who sing below.
The Best of Both Worlds – Actors Known for Both Singing and Acting:
Some of Hollywood’s greatest stars are well known as both actors and phenomenal singers, so much so that neither profession takes a preference in audience’s minds. They are neither more favoured by the film or music world. Such examples of actors heading the best of both worlds include: Jack Black, Ice Cube, Justin Timberlake, and Jennifer Lopez to name just a few.
Will Smith – ‘Men In Black’
Other examples of actors that have had terrific careers as both musicians and actors include American actor and rapper, Will Smith, who gained prominence first as the rapper ‘The Fresh Prince’ collaborating with DJ Jazzy Jeff, before going on to release solo music projects throughout the 1990s. Over his music career, Smith had accumulated 5 Grammy Award, before setting his sights on Hollywood. He is starred in critically acclaimed films such as ‘Concussion’ (2015), ‘Ali’ (2002) and ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ (2006), for which he was nominated ‘Best Actor’ at the Oscars.
Actor and singer Jared Leto has also made a name for himself as both an award-winning actor and musician. Leto first started his career as an actor on the television show ‘My So-Called Life’ (1994) and various other teen movies, before making his breakthrough to Hollywood stardom acting in cult-hits ‘Fight Club’ (1999), ‘American Psycho’ (2000) and ‘Requiem For a Dream’ (2000). At the same time, Leto was concentrating on a rock career, fronting the rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars, who released their first album ’30 Seconds to Mars’ in 2002. Leto now splits his time equally between both music and acting, and is achieving success in both worlds. For instance, in 2014 Leto won the Academy Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for his role in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ (2013), meanwhile his band Thirty Seconds to Mars has seen successes in winning awards too, including winning various MTV Music Video Awards.
Thirty Seconds to Mars – ‘The Kill’
Actors Who Sing:
While there are many examples of actors who have had great careers as both actors and singers, there are also many actors who are making music in bands on the side, but are lesser known about. A few examples include, TV and film actress, Zooey Deschanel, who fronts the band She & Him with musician M. Ward, actress Juliette Lewis who fronts Juliette & the Licks, and actor Ryan Gosling who fronts the duo Dead Man’s Bones.
Dead Man’s Bones – ‘Lose Your Soul’
Other less known examples include ‘Apollo 13’ (1995) actor Kevin Bacon, who has been in a band with his brother Michael Bacon since 1995, called The Bacon Brothers. Who, alongside regular tours, has released 8 albums, including a ‘best of’ CD and a live CD. The Bacon Brothers also recently starred in an advert together, where they performed a song about eating eggs.
Incredible Egg – Wake Up to Eggs with the Bacon Brothers
Actor Jason Schwartzman, star of Wes Anderson films including ‘Rushmore’ (1998) and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (2014), has also had indie success as a singer and a musician. Schwartzman started his career out as a songwriter and guitarist in the band Phantom Planet – a band well known for their famous track ‘California’, which became the theme song to ‘The O.C.’ He left the band to focus on his acting career, but is currently the frontman of his own music project, Coconut Records. Coconut Records has released two studio albums, as well as produced the full original score for the feature film ‘Goats’ (2012).
Coconut Records – ‘West Coast’
Actors Who Are Composers:
Aside from moonlighting as rappers, singers or even guitarists, some actors have dabbled in classical music and even gone on to compose music for feature films.
Charlie Chaplin, the most iconic face of the silent era, was considered a ‘triple threat’ in Hollywood. Not only was he an actor, he also directed and wrote films. And to top that off he even composed film scores. Chaplin’s film score for his film ‘Limelight’ (1952) snagged him an Oscar in 1972, when it won the Academy Award for ‘Best Music’.
Charlie Chaplin- ‘Limelight Theme’
Another Academy Award winner and triple threat, actor Clint Eastwood is best known for being the face of Hollywood westerns. However, he has also gained prominence as a director and producer, winning the ‘Best Motion Picture’ and ‘Best Achievement in Directing’ Oscars for ‘Million Dollar Baby’ (2004), which he produced, directed and starred in. Not only has he starred in, directed and produced many Academy Award winning films, he has also composed the music for them. His compositions feature as the themes for many Academy Award nominated and winning films, including ‘Mystic River’ (2003), ‘Million Dollar Baby’ (2004) and ‘Changeling’ (2008).
Clint Eastwood – ‘Mystic River Theme’.
Finally, apart from composing music for Oscar-award winning movies, other actors have enjoyed composing music as a hobby outside of their Hollywood stardom. Academy Award winner Sir Anthony Hopkins, best known for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1991), realised his dreams of becoming a composer when he released his first album of compositions and went on tour in 2012. Although Hopkins, who had studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, chose acting as his profession, it wasn’t his first choice. Speaking to The Guardian in 2012, Hopkins said: ‘if I’d been clever enough at school I would like to have gone to music college. As it was I had to settle for being an actor.’ Better late than never, his album ‘Compositions’ (2012) came out when the actor turned 75.
Andre Rieu and his Orchestra perform Sir Anthony Hopkin’s ‘The Waltz Goes On’.