From Cliff Richard to Meat Loaf: The best multi-tasking singers-turned-thespians
The Mirror lists 20 chart-busting actors
By Amy Hopkins
3 Sep 2012
From J-Lo to Frank Sinatra, over the years a vast array of singers and songwriters have turned their hands to acting ”“ with mixed results.
The latest songster to have been bitten by the acting bug is Ben Drew ”“ aka British rapper Plan B – who stars alongside Ray Winstone in gritty cop film The Sweeney.
To celebrate these multi-tasking megastars, The Mirror looks back at showbiz’s top 20 musicians-turned-actors:
1. WILL SMITH
Men in Black (1997) ”“ this superstar first found fame for his playful hip-hop tunes and massively popular TV hit, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
The fresh prince showed the world his softer side when he took on leading roles in a series of epic films, including Independence Day (1996), Ali (2001) and The Pursuit Of Happiness (2006), which won him a nomination for Best Actor Academy Awards.
Silkwood (1984) ”“ One half of famous duo Sonny and Cher, the so-called Goddess of Pop proved unstoppable when she launched her movie career in the 80s.
Not content with conquering the pop charts, Cher picked up an Oscar for her performance in drama-filled classic, Silkwood.
3. DOLLY PARTON
9-5 (1980s) ”“ The undisputed queen of country music, Dolly proved her talents aren’t limited to song-writing when she picked up a Golden Globe Award for her performance in 1980s comedy classic, 9 to 5. More recently, Dolly can be heard as the voice of Dolly Gnome in the computer-animated hit, Gnomeo & Juliet (2011).
4. BEYONCE KNOWLES
DreamGirls (2006) ”“ After launching her acting career starring as Foxxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers in Goldmember, the bootylicious queen of R n’ B unleashed her full range of talents in her most memorable role as Etta James in the 2006 blockbuster hit, DreamGirls, picking up two Golden Globe nominations in the process.
5. BARBARA STREISAND
Funny Girl (1968) ”“ Babs left her mark on the film industry with her unforgettable performance in his romantic flick.
But younger audiences will know her for her hilarious performance in Meet the Fockers (2004).
Surprisingly, in an acting career spanning 22 years, Streisand performed in just 18 movies.
6. BING CROSBY
Going My Way (1944) ”“ A talented jazz musician and an inspiration to Frank Sinatra, Crosby was also a film star, winning an Oscar for his portrayal of a good-natured priest in this 1944 hit.
Crosby is also notorious for crooning hit song, White Christmas, which he famously sang in 1942 film, The Holiday Inn.
From Here to Eternity (1953) ”“ One fifth of the famous Rat Pack, the dashing crooner turned to the big screen when his music career began to dwindle.
His most famous roles include his Academy Award-winning performance as Frankie Machine in this wartime classic, and his performances in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) and Guys and Dolls (1955).
8. BETTE MIDLER
Hocus Pocus (1993) ”“ After dabbling in the pop charts, Midler moved into film as an unaccredited extra, but swiftly secured her first fully fledged role in The Rose (1979), a performance which won her two Golden Globe Awards.
In the years that followed Bette bagged a further nine awards.
9. DEAN MARTIN
Who Was That Lady? (1960) ”“ The ”˜King of Cool’ proved his comedy talents after being nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance alongside Tony Curtis in this comedy.
Like his fellow Rat Packer, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin proved his worth as a showbiz all-rounder, with huge success on stage, in music, on TV and the silver screen.
Jennifer Lopez performs in concert at Sprint Center on August 4, 2012 in Kansas City Jennifer Lopez performs in concert at Sprint Center on August 4, 2012 in Kansas City
10. JENNIFER LOPEZ
The Wedding Planner (2001) ”“ She insists she’s still ”˜Jenny from the Block’, but J-Lo’s career, spanning both music and film, has rocketed her to dizzy heights.
J-Lo has given her vocal chords a break to make her mark on number of rom-coms, including Maid in Manhattan (2002), Monster-In Law (2005) and The Back-up Plan (2010).
Despite mediocre reviews from critics, J-Lo’s films have been lapped up by her fans.
Jennifer looked glamorous in a black gown
11. JENNIFER HUDSON
Dream Girls (2006) ”“ Her talents took her to the final of American Idol in 2004, and a string of dazzling on-screen performances have rocketed her to stardom.
After belting out Motown hits alongside Beyonce in 2006, this Golden Globe award-winning actress has appeared in Sex and the City (2008), Fragments (2009) and Winnie (2011).
12. OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN
Grease (1978) ”“ Australia’s sweetheart is as famous for the tunes she sang alongside smouldering John Travolta in this teen classic, as for the songs of her pop career.
These days you can catch Olivia on the big screen in the comedy A Few Best Men.
She couldn’t resist singing the film’s soundtrack.
To Sir With Love (1967) ”“ Lulu will always be best-known for her pop career, but her film debut alongside the much-loved Sidney Poitier in To Sir With Love (1967) was enough to put the pintsized star on the map as more than just a singer.
Whitney Houston arrives at the 17th Carousel of Hope Ball in October 2006 Whitney Houston arrives at the 17th Carousel of Hope Ball in October 2006
14. WHITNEY HOUSTON
The Bodyguard (1992) ”“ Whitney kicked off her short-lived acting career and played to her strengths by starring as a pop singer in this romantic classic.
Critics weren’t kind, but audiences couldn’t get enough of Whit.
The film’s iconic track I Will Always Love You ”“ written by Dolly Parton and covered by Houston – became one of her best-loved chart hits.
15. DIANA ROSS
Lady Sings the Blues (1972) ”“ The Supremes’ leading lady was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in this Billie Holiday biopic.
Amazingly this was her first foray into film.
Sadly her next two flicks (Mahogany (1975) and The Wiz (1978) didn’t meet with the same reception.
16. MARK WAHLBERG
Renaissance Man (1994) ”“ Once known by as “Marky Mark” after his band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, thankfully in the mid 90s Wahlberg decided to drop the nickname and begin his acting career.
He first hit the big screen with Danny DeVito in 90’s comedy Renaissance Man and has been racking up hit movies and glowing reviews ever since.
Wahlberg’s other Hollywood hits include Boogie Nights (1997), The Italian Job (2003) and The Fighter (2010).
David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
17. DAVID BOWIE
The Boy (1967) ”“ this film marked Bowie’s big screen debut. Throughout the 80s the Ziggy Stardust legend played a series of film roles alongside his fantastically successful music career.
Look out for his performances in The Virgin Solidier (1969) and The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976).
Dancer in the Dark (2000) ”“ The quirky Icelandic songstress has more talents besides penning top ten singles and fashioning outfits out of swans.
She bagged two Best Actress awards for her part in Dancer in the Dark (2000).
This is even more impressive given that Bjork has starred in only two other films (the most recent being a voiceover) – The Juniper Tree (1987) and Anna and the Moods (2007).
19. PLAN B
Adulthood (2008) ”“ A maverick figure of the UK urban music scene, Ben ”˜Plan B’ Drew has also impressed in films.
The 28-year old was praised for his role as Dabs in Noel Clarke’s film Adulthood, but it was his role in Harry Brown, opposite Michael Caine, that really made critics pay attention.
This year looks set to be big for Plan B, who’s just released his own film, Ill Manors and also stars in new release The Sweeney.
20. MARIAH CAREY
Precious (2000) – the American beauty first jumped on the acting bandwagon by starring in a flick loosely based on her own life, Glitter (2001).
But the pop diva’s acting highlight came in 2009, when she ditched her make-up to play dowdy social worker Ms.Weiss in gritty film Precious.
Mariah’s performance earned her great reviews and a string of award nominations.