Lady Gaga. Harry Styles. Elvis Presley. Barbara Streisand. Frank Sinatra. Madonna. Beyoncé. Cher. For decades, successful singers and musicians have turned to Hollywood to ply their trade to great success. But how many actors can you think of to make the opposite transition? Well, we’ve thought of a few A-listers who have turned their talents to the music world with varying degrees of success. And some of the names might surprise you.
Keanu Reeves famously played Ted Theodore Logan, a failed, slacker musician in the Bill & Ted franchise. But in real life he’s actually a proficient bassist and played in the grunge band Dogstar throughout the ’90s. He explained to Empire magazine in 1999, “I hope that if they come to see me because they saw me in a film and liked the work, so they want to come to the freak show, that they like the music, you know. That’s not so bad.” But, like Wyld Stallyns, they hardly set the world alight, with Reeves admitting to GQ magazine 20 years later, “I guess it would have helped if our band was better.”
The Black Widow actress actually released her debut album back in 2008. Titled Anywhere I Lay My Head, it featured one self-penned track among a disc of Tom Waits covers. Then, The Singles group was formed in 2015, featuring her buddies Kendra Morris, Holly Miranda, Este Haim, and Julia Haltigan. Johansson wrote in a press release, “The idea was to write super-pop dance music written and performed by girls. I love Grimes. And I love the Bangles. And I love the Go-Go’s. I wanted it to be like those bands: ultra pop but also a little ironic, a little in on the joke.”
The Pirates Of The Caribbean star long dabbled in music before his acting career took off. Not only was he once co-owner of Hollywood live music venue The Viper Room, but he also played guitar on songs by Aerosmith, Marilyn Manson, and Oasis. He played in a band called P in the 1990s alongside Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Steve Jones, guitarist of the Sex Pistols. In 2015 he formed the supergroup Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. Guest stars such as Paul McCartney and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl have contributed to their two albums to date. Depp’s latest musical venture is a collaboration with guitarist Jeff Beck released in 2022.
The actress is best known for her role as Jessica Day in TV’s New Girl and movies such as 500 Days Of Summer. What’s perhaps less known about her is that she’s also a remarkably accomplished musician. That’s right, Deschanel spends her downtime playing with her pal M. Ward in She & Him. What’s more, she’s a multi-instrumentalist, turning her hand to piano and ukulele as well as singing. And so far the folk-rockers have released six albums.