20 Actors Who Are Also Musicians

It’s not unusual for actors to feel the urge to express their creativity off the stage and screen. Many turn to music, and a few have even become household names: Jared Leto, Juliette Lewis and Zooey Deschanel have all forged successful music careers alongside acting; while pretty much everyone who has even appeared in an Australian soap seems to have had a record deal at one point or another. The less said about The Hoff, though, the better. So here’s a rundown of 20 actors that are less well known for their musical exploits. And – perhaps disappointingly – they’re not all as bad as you think.

Hugh Laurie
It’s long been known that Hugh Laurie is a great pianist and guitarist, and we’ve seen him noodle away numerous times on TV in shows like House and A Little Bit of Fry & Laurie. In 2011, though, Laurie decided to release his own blues album: while his playing is superb, the vocals are admittedly a little off. But hey, nobody’s perfect.

Bruce Willis
Willis first sang on screen in his breakout TV role in Moonlighting, and in recent years has gone on to enjoy some success singing and playing the harmonica with The Bruce Willis Blues Band. No, that’s not made up. He doesn’t have the best voice, but his rough gravelly vocals lend themselves quite nicely to the blues.

Russell Crowe
When I discovered Russell Crowe’s band The Ordinary Fear of God, I’ll admit I was expecting a train wreck. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the bluesy country-rock number I was presented with. Quite brilliantly, the band used to be called Thirty Odd Foot of Guns, and when they changed their name picked one with the same initials so that they didn’t have to change their merch.

Eddie Murphy
Here’s one for the “so awful everyone involved should rot in jail” pile. Any singer who releases a song called Boogie In Your Butt deserves to serve time. And in the case of Eddie Murphy, I use the term "singer" very, very loosely.

Keanu Reeves
It’s hard to argue with Reeves’ work as a bassist with Dogstar. It’s fairly standard mid-90s alt-rock which took them to Glastonbury and back again, with Reeves’ bassline chugging away underneath the distortion and strained vocals.

Johnny Depp
As far as I can see, Johnny Depp hasn’t been in a band since the supergroup P (which also featured members of Butthole Surfers, Sex Pistols and Red Hot Chilli Peppers), but he’s made numerous appearances with other peoples’ of late. In the past he’s joined the likes of Eddie Vedder, Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson to name but three. He’s not bad on the old six-string is Mr Depp, and even contributed slide guitar to one of Oasis’ albums.

William Shatner
We can sit here and debate if this is actually music ‘til the cows come home. What we can all agree on, though, is that William Shatner’s oddly hypnotic songs are made of pure damn awesomeness and hilarity.

Scarlett Johansson
Miss Johansson doesn’t have an unpleasant voice, and in 2008 released an album of Tom Waits covers. She has since stated that she’d like to follow it up with an album of original songs, but as yet nothing has surfaced other than the odd cover version and soundtrack contribution.

Robert Downey Jr.
Downey Jr. is a man whose life has had many ups and downs: amongst the drugs and the acting and the jail and the superstardom, he somehow found time to have a music career. Admittedly, it’s pretty uninspiring pop music, but at least he can hold a tune.

Ryan Gosling
Gosling’s band Dead Man’s Bones was originally conceived as a monster-themed musical, however became a smaller, different beast when a full stage show was deemed too expensive. The duo’s music is pretty interesting, and Gosling proves himself to be multi-talented, providing vocals, piano, guitar and bass on their record.

Michael Cera
You might have seen Micahel Cera playing bass in Scott Pilgrim vis. The World. What you might not have known is that before the film, he was the only member of fictional band Sex Bob-omb that could already play their instrument... In fact, Edgar Wright had to ask him to play worse as he was showing the others up! Cera has dotted around various bands, including a tour with Mister Heavenly and an appearance on one of Weezer’s albums.

Kevin Bacon
Kevin Bacon’s country-rock band The Bacon Brothers: it sounds like a Saturday Night Live parody, but it is – surprisingly – very real indeed. And they’re actually pretty good: Bacon’s voice is not too shabby, and suits his chosen genre.

Kevin Costner
The second Kevin to appear on this list, and the second Kevin to peddle country-rock, no less. It’s nothing special, but it’s a lot better than you might expect.

Billy Bob Thornton
Yeah, so this is exactly as bad as you might have guessed. Someone needs to tell Billy Bob that surrounding yourself with a group of talented musicians – the Boxmasters – doesn’t a good singer make. One YouTube commenter described this band as “worse than rape”.

Jeff Bridges
The Dude himself proves to be a fairly listenable country singer. Whodathunkit?

Milla Jovovich
In the 90s, somewhere around the start of Milla Jovovich’s acting career, she also released an album entitled The Divine Comedy. It’s got some quite interesting pop music on it, and in the past has been compared to the likes of Kate Bush and Tori Amos.

Steve Martin
Not only a brilliant comedian, amazing magician, and top class actor (at least in his early films), Steve Martin is also a terrific banjo-ist. Is banjo-ist a word?  He gigs around the world and even won a Grammy in 2010. Pretty amazing stuff, when you think about it.

Steven Seagal
I didn’t want to force myself to have to listen to all of this insipid pop drivel, so I don’t have much to say here...

Clint Eastwood
What many people probably don’t know about Mr Eastwood is that he’s been involved in writing music for a number of his films, including the score to Gran Torino. His piano playing is very impressive indeed, and he knows his stuff: there’s a series of videos on YouTube of him sitting with some of the greatest pianists of all time and just appreciating their musicianship.

Leonard Nimoy
This might just be one of the strangest things you ever see/hear. The video for The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins is simultaneously horrifyingly creepy and immensely mesmerising. What was Spock thinking?!


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