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Actors you didn't know were also musicians – Yardbarker

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We all need our creative outlets, even actors. The difference is that famous actors can sometimes turn those passions and side projects into things released to the general public. It seems the thing that actors like trying out the most is music. Now, there are musicians who have becomes actors, like Cher, and people who have definitive careers in both, like a Miley Cyrus or Harry Connick Jr. Here are some actors who have tried their hands at being musicians as well.
Goldblum often delights with his acting chops or his interview appearances. Nobody brings the quirk to sitting on a talk show couch like Goldblum. However, the “Jurassic Park” star is also a jazz pianist. He and his backing band, the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, have now released two jazz albums.
Before Johansson was subsumed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Black Widow, she tried her hand at music. Way back in 2008, when she was still fairly early in her career, Johansson released the album “Anywhere I Lay My Head.” What made this a particularly unusual album is that 10 of the songs on it are Tom Waits covers. Yes, Scarlett Johansson released a Tom Waits cover album. No, their voices don’t sound similar.
No, we aren’t talking about Wyld Stallyns, the band Reeves’ Ted Logan is a member of in the “Bill and Ted” movies — you know, the band whose music unites the universe in peace. That’s too lofty a standard to hold the alt rock band Dogstar to. Reeves was the bass player in that band, which gave the quartet some added attention.
Crowe has won an Oscar, and he’s appeared in many hit films. In fact, he starred in back-to-back Best Picture winners in “Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind.” However, Crowe has been a musician for as long as he’s been an actor. In the ‘80s he formed a band called Roman Antix, which became a band called 30 Odd Feet of Grunts. The Australian served as the frontman for the rock band.
Thornton’s music career got a little bit of attention a few years ago but not for a great reason. He was being interviewed on the radio and got angry when he was asked questions about his film career, as opposed to his music. Thornton released four solo albums in the 2000s, but since then he has been a member of a group called The Boxmasters, whom Thornton was trying to promote.
There is a certain segment of the population that is aware of Willis’ music career but mostly because people like to poke fun at it. Before he had taken off as a huge movie star, Willis tried his hand at music as well. In 1987, he released the album “The Return of Bruno.” We aren’t sure who Bruno is. We do know that in 1988 he then starred in a little film called “Die Hard.”
Pesci actually tried his hand at music first. In the ‘60s, he played guitar in some bands and actually released an album called “Little Joey Sure Can Sing!” He was billed as Joe Ritchie at the time. Then Pesci got into acting, and obviously that went better for him. Eventually, Pesci would use his movie stardom to get a chance to indulge in his musical passion. He did it in an odd way, though. Pesci released an album in character as the one he played in “My Cousin Vinny.”
Driver became a noteworthy actress in 1997 thanks to the double whammy of “Grosse Pointe Blank” and the huge hit “Good Will Hunting,” where she played the love interest of Matt Damon’s genius janitor. You may have seen her most recently starring in the sitcom “Speechless.” In 2004 she made her musical debut with the album “Everything I’ve Got in My Pocket.” She had a couple of minor hits in the United Kingdom but garnered a little less attention in the United States.
When she was not whispering to ghosts or being one of the it girls of the ‘90s, Hewitt tried her hand at music as well. Actually, she first dipped her toe in music in 1992 with the fittingly titled album “Love Songs.” She then released a couple of more albums in the wake of the popularity of “Party of Five.” Naturally, she also had a song on the soundtrack of “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”
We’re not talking about Gosling’s time on “The Mickey Mouse Club.” We’re also not talking about the movie “La La Land.” Gosling and his friend Zach Shields decided to form a rock duo called Dead Man’s Bones, based on their shared interest in ghosts and the supernatural. Their 2009 release is something of an experimental album, as they did not do more than three takes of any song. Also Gosling recorded on the album under the pseudonym of “Baby Goose.”
OK, maybe you do know about Shatner’s music career. It’s been a punchline for many years. Captain Kirk is not, shall we say, a traditionally talented singer. That’s readily apparent on his cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” Check out the video of him performing that song sometime if you want to see something truly fascinating.
What is it about “Star Trek” actors trying their hands at music? Kirk did it, and so did Spock. He actually sung in character as Spock in some of his songs. Then there were covers of tunes like “Proud Mary.” The real question is whether Shatner or Nimoy was the worse singer?
He played Dracula and a villainous wizard in the “Lord of the Rings” movies. It feels fitting that Lee was apparently a metal head. Would you believe that he made two EPs that are heavy metal Christmas albums? What’s truly cool is that Lee was making music until 2013. He was 91 at the time!
This may not be too surprising, given who Kravitz’s parents are. Her dad, Lenny Kravitz, is, of course, a successful musician, and her mom, Lisa Bonet, has made some music as well. Zoe has been making music since she was a teenager, and she’s currently the frontwoman for a duo called Lolawolf, which released one album in 2014.
Rudolph is also the child of a musician. Her mother is the late Minnie Riperton, best known for the ’70s  hit song “Lovin’ You.” Before Rudolph got her big break on “Saturday Night Live,” she was a member of the band The Rentals. She did backing vocals and played a bit of keyboard. You can even see her in a couple of music videos from the ‘90s.
Can you imagine the weird intensity that Shannon would bring to music? He’s the singer and lyricist for an indie rock band called Corporal. It formed in 2002 but didn’t release its first album until 2010. The band also released a single in 2012 called “Obama” in support of Barack Obama’s run for reelection.
Cera has been acting since he was a kid, so where has he found the time to learn to play music? He’s been a member of two indie rock bands, one called Mister Heavenly, and one called The Long Goodbye. Cera plays bass in these bands, and he also played bass and sang backup vocals on songs from the “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” soundtrack. That also happens to be a movie in which he played a musician.
We all know about Bacon’s extensive film career. There’s a reason why the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a thing. We wonder if there’s a way to play that game in the world of music as well. Kevin and his brother, Michael, have a band called The Bacon Brothers. They’ve released six albums, and they even tour sometimes.
In the ‘70s, Sagal was a member of a rock band called The Group With No Name. She provided vocals on its one album, “Moon Over Brooklyn,” in 1976. Then Sagal got into acting, featuring in shows like “Married…with Children” as Peg Bundy and “Futurama” as Leela. Eventually, she would get back to being a vocalist, releasing a couple of albums over the years. Also she provided a song for the soundtrack for “Silent Rage,” a Chuck Norris film.
Schwartzman comes from an acting family. His mother is Talia Shire, which makes Francis Ford Coppola his uncle. And yet he has spent time as a musician as well. He was the drummer in the band Phantom Planet. Yes, he performed on its hit song, “California.” He left the band several years ago, but he still makes music as a solo artist on occasion.
Lewis has appeared in movies such as “Whip It” and “Natural Born Killers.” She also has a musical streak running through her. Lewis was the frontwoman for the band Juliette and the Licks, which released three albums. The band had some rock music pedigree to it, though. Its drummer was Patty Schemel, best remembered from Hole.
The Smith’s are a musical family. Will Smith was the Fresh Prince. Willow first rose to prominence with her song “Whip My Hair.” Jaden makes music too. Jada is a musician in her own right, though. She has been the frontwoman for the heavy metal band Wicked Wisdom.
Laurie would occasionally play the piano on the sketch show that helped break him out in England, “A Bit of Fry and Laurie.” However, few people outside of America knew Laurie as anything other than Dr. Gregory House for many years. For them, their first awareness of Laurie’s musical interest would have come from his 2011 album, “Let Them Talk.” It actually topped the blues charts in the United States, but how many of you are following the blues charts?
When she was young, Larson’s interest in music and acting seemed pretty equal. She even signed a record deal as a teenager, putting out one album in 2005 called “Finally Out of P.E.” It did not sell well, and Larson has expressed displeasure with the way the recording industry works. Though around that time she promised new music was coming to fans on MySpace (yes, this was a while ago,) she started to get more acting gigs, and now she has an Oscar. She hasn’t released any music since.
You know some actors do ads overseas, often in Asia, because they get a ton of money. But nobody over in America sees those ads, and that was especially true back before the rise of the internet. Milano is sort of the musical equivalent of that. In the ‘90s she signed a five-album deal with a Japanese recording company. This was done with intent, because she didn’t want her pop albums released in the United States.
You know Zendaya is Meechee, but did you also know she has worked as a musician? Back before she was winning Emmys, Zendaya was releasing music. She put out a self-titled album in 2013, which yielded a top-40 single. She also performed a song on the "Greatest Showman" soundtrack.

When your parents are Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, you kind of get to do whatever you want. Maya is a rising star and has managed to stand out since joining the cast of "Stranger Things," but she still makes music. Her second album "Moss" came out in 2022. She also managed to get a pretty impressive director for the music video for her second single: Her dad.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.
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