When the trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza dropped in late September, you were thrilled, and perhaps a little surprised, to see Alana Haim taking the lead alongside Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Philip Seymour) and Bradley Cooper. As you know, Alana Haim, the 29-year-old musician who is part of the band Haim with her sisters Este and Danielle, is making her acting debut and has already campaigned for the best actress category in this awards season. Now, as you eagerly await the release of Licorice Pizza at the end of the month, you can’t help but think about other actors who are musicians. They transitioned from the world of music to the silver screen. Need a refresher? Take a look at the following list of singers and rappers who have also showcased their acting skills.
You might be surprised to learn that A Star Is Born in 2018 wasn’t Lady Gaga’s first venture into the world of acting. Back when she was just 15, she made a brief appearance on a 2001 episode of The Sopranos as an unnamed classmate of A.J. Soprano. As the years went by and Gaga rose to superstardom in the music industry with tons of expensive concerts, she continued to explore acting opportunities. In 2014, she took on the role of Bertha, a waitress, in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Later, she graced the screen in two seasons of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story, where she impressed audiences and even won a Golden Globe for her exceptional portrayal of the Countess in American Horror Story: Hotel.
One of the musicians turned actors is Harry Styles. If you’re a fan of One Direction, you’ll be delighted to know that the charming heartthrob ventured into the world of cinema with his impressive debut in Christopher Nolan’s highly acclaimed and Academy Award-winning World War II epic, Dunkirk, back in 2017. Since then, Styles has continued to expand his acting career, with exciting projects on the horizon. Keep an eye out for his upcoming movies, such as My Policeman, in which he co-stars with Emma Corrin from The Crown, and Don’t Worry, Darling, a film with Florence Pugh and Olivia Wilde. Styles is not only capturing hearts with his music but also captivating audiences with his talent on the silver screen.
One of the actors who are musicians is Will Smith. If you’re a big fan, you know that he didn’t start his career in Hollywood. In fact, Smith first made a name for himself as one of the many actors turned singers who made a name in the music industry alongside Jeff Townes as DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince when he was just a teenager. Their debut single, “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble,” became a hit in 1986, and their first album, Rock the House, even reached the Billboard Top 200 in 1987.
In 1991, Smith’s talent caught the attention of NBC, leading to the development of the iconic sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where he starred for six seasons. It was during this time that Smith began his ascent to the Hollywood A-list, securing roles in blockbuster films such as Bad Boys in 1995, Independence Day in 1996, and Men in Black in 1997. His performances garnered critical acclaim, and he received Oscar nominations for his roles in Ali in 2001 and The Pursuit of Happyness in 2006.
If you’re a fan of Awkwafina, you’ll be amazed by her incredible journey from a rapper to a celebrated actress. Before she mesmerized audiences with her performances in Ocean’s Eight (2018), Crazy Rich Asians (2018), and The Farewell (2019), Awkwafina, also known as Nora Lum, made a name for herself in the music industry.
Back in 2012, she gained viral fame on YouTube with her catchy and bold song titled “My Vag.” The song became an instant sensation, showcasing Awkwafina’s unique style and fearless attitude. In 2014, she took another significant step in her career by releasing her debut album, Yellow Ranger, which further solidified her presence as a rapper.
If you’ve been following Justin Timberlake’s journey, you’ll know that his path to success took various turns. While he initially gained fame as part of the star-studded cast of The Mickey Mouse Club, alongside notable names like Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and his future ‘N Sync bandmate JC Chasez, his acting career didn’t fully take off until later.
After his boy band days started to fade, Timberlake ventured into acting and showcased his talent on both the small and big screens. Notably, he earned two Emmy awards for his memorable guest appearances on Saturday Night Live. He also graced the silver screen with his performances in films such as The Social Network, Bad Teacher, Friends With Benefits, Alpha Dog, and Inside Llewyn Davis.
Wahlberg decided to pursue a career in music after seeing his brother Donnie, a member of the well-known boy band New Kids on the Block, perform. Adopting the stage name Marky Mark, he quickly gained attention for his muscular physique and confident persona. His fame skyrocketed, and he even caught the eye of Calvin Klein, who featured him alongside Kate Moss in a denim campaign.
Marky Mark’s debut album, Music for the People, achieved tremendous success, reaching platinum status and producing popular hits like “Good Vibrations” and “Wildside.” However, Wahlberg’s true breakthrough came in the realm of acting. In 1995, he showcased his talent alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries, but it was his starring role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 film, Boogie Nights, that solidified his acting prowess. Playing the role of a dishwasher-turned-porn star, Wahlberg’s performance, including a memorable prosthetically enhanced full-frontal nude scene, left a lasting impression.
Which of these acting musicians are you familiar with?
As we witness these artists’ incredible journeys, it becomes clear that the talents of these actors, who are musicians, transcend boundaries and mediums. Whether they’re captivating us with their melodies or bringing characters to life on the silver screen, their creative genius knows no limits. We eagerly await their future projects, knowing that they will continue to inspire and entertain us with their remarkable talent and dedication to their craft.