10 Singers That Became Actors

Madonna in 1996’s Evita.


Madge’s first major movie role in Desperately Seeking Susan in 1985 saw her score relatively good reviews, even if her brash character wasn’t too far removed from her musical image and her hit Into the Groove was used in the film.

It’s been a mixed movie bag since then, from the good (Evita) to the bad (Shanghai Surprise) to the downright ugly (Swept Away). And that one was made by her then-husband Guy Ritchie. She’s more involved in producing movies these days.



Just as he’d managed the tricky route from boy band to credible solo act, Justin Timberlake seemed to want to concentrate on acting.

Dating a string of actresses may have had something to do with it.

His breakthrough role in 2006’s Alpha Dog was arguably deliberately dark, and he impressed cynics with his role as Napster founder Sean Parker in the Facebook film The Social Network. Since then he’s made a few wrong moves (Bad Teacher with ex Cameron Diaz) when he should probably get back to making great music again.


Is acting the one thing Beyonce hasn’t totally nailed so far?

She channelled her inner Diana Ross for Dreamgirls, but that wasn’t too much of a stretch.

But trying her hand at a thriller with Idris Elba in Obsessed is for Beyhivers only. One day someone will give her the right film role, but it hasn’t happened yet.


Mariah Carey’s star vehicle Glitter


Mariah has the honour of one of the best films and one of the worst films in any singer’s celluloid CV. 2001’s Glitter (the soundtrack was actually released on September 11) is worth watching if only to try to work out how it got made, let alone put in cinemas.

It’s become a cult classic for all the wrong reasons.

Ten points to Mariah though for her admittedly small role in 2009’s excellent Precious where she took many risks, not the least of which being filmed without her make-up.


He had a brief music career, but gave the world the vanilla rap brilliance of Good Vibrations.

He swiftly left music behind for Hollywood, with key roles in Boogie NightsPlanet Of the Apes and Ted as well as his real life becoming the basis of iconic TV hit Entourage.

His brother Donnie Wahlberg has managed to juggle both music (a member of New Kids on the Block) with regular acting work.

Marky Mark’s Funky Bunch remain unreformed.


Old mate Meat Loaf may struggle to hit some high notes on stage these days, but he’s actually had some classic films in his CV, including, of course, Spiceworld, where he plays Dennis the bus driver.

Loaf also dusted off his acting chops in Fight ClubThe Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne’s World.

Woody Harrelson & Courtney Love

Woody Harrelson and Courtney Love teamed up for 1997’s The People vs. Larry Flynt. 


It’s been quality not quantity for Courtney Love’s acting career.

She had a small role in Sid and Nancy — ironically she’d be compared to Nancy Spungen when she started her heroin-fuelled relationship with Kurt Cobain.

Courtney shut the haters up with her role in 1996’s The People vs. Larry Flynt and there’s been a few indie spots since then (200 CigarettesJulie Johnson) but there’s a buzz around her new role in the James Franco movie The Long Home.


WHAT do you do when you reach the peak of country music?

Tim McGraw tackled the world of acting.

His breakthrough role was in the film version of Friday Night Lights (it’d become a TV show) and while he’s often hard to spot as he generally acts without his trademark country hat he’s had roles in The KingdomTomorrowland and the Gwyneth Paltrow stinker Country Strong.


If you’re going to tie your music and your acting career together, Grease is the blueprint.

It’ll be 40 years since ONJ starred in Grease next year.

1980’s Xanadu is infamous for other reasons and trying to recreate the magic with John Travolta on 1983’s Two Of a Kind couldn’t even be saved by Xenu. Livvy’s last film was the mildly-amusing local comedy A Few Best Men in 2011.

Dennis Hopper

That’s Dennis Hopper with David Bowie as Andy Warhol in 1997’s Basquiat.


No strangers to characters, Bowie was a natural fit for the big screen.

Since his death many have revisited his work in Labyrinth, there’s also his method acting in The Man Who Fell To Earth and he had roles in everything from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me to The Last Temptation Of Christ and played Andy Warhol in Basquiat.


Will Smith may be the most successful example of musician turned actor.

In the ‘80s he was the face of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.

That spawned the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which then spawned a string of blockbuster films — many containing some of his hit rap songs.

There’s been Bad BoysMen In Black, I Am LegendShark TaleIndependence Day although he opted for Wild West West over the Matrix. Smith has also managed to get critical acclaim for roles in Ali and The Pursuit Of Happyness.

Will Smith

Will Smith, pictured in Men in Black, is one of the most successful musicians turned actors.

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