These days it seems that everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too. Actors want to be musicians, and musicians want to be actors. This can have pretty disastrous results, if not comedic. Mind you there are always exceptions, and our focus today will be a handful of the top musicians acting in movies.
David Bowie – First of all, David Bowie is my favorite musician on this list, but that has little to do with his acting. Between 1969 and 1972 David experimented in his music between an acoustic folk sound and hard rock. But in June of 1972 he invented Ziggy Stardust a concept album about an extraterrestrial rock star. After that he gathered the nickname, The Chameleon because of his persistent change in looks and sound. Bowie’s first major film role in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) earned acclaim. Many great films followed after th
at, but one of his greatest roles came was that of a killer mane courtesy of 1986, and lots of eyeliner as the singing and dancing king of goblins in Labyrinth. Many of the songs were also composed by Bowie. He played several roles between Labyrinth and today, and was even considered for the role of the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie. Most recently he played Nikola Tesla alongside Christian Bale in The Prestige.
Will Smith - Will has covered music, TV, and movies successfully. In the 80’s DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince came onto the hip hop scene. Their first single was “Girls Ain’t Nothin’ But Trouble”, and followed with a string of other huge hits like “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and “Nightmare on My Street”. During this time he nearly went broke, and ended up taking a role in the NBC sitcom the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The show gave him enough leverage to release the 1991 comeback album Homebase. Code Red became the last album that was released as DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. While doing the show he made a great, but little known dramatic film debut in Six Degrees of Separation in which he played against type as a gay con man. Will’s first major lead role came out as an arrogant cop in Bad Boys and several action-comedies followed like Independence Day. With his Role in Ali, he returned to Drama and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best actor. Not many of today’s leading men can travel from Romantic Comedies to Robot Sci-Fi flicks, and then back to amazing drama like The Pursuit of Happiness. Like him or hate him, Will has been box office gold, and seems that he can do no wrong.
Mark Wahlberg - He’s done some minor modeling, but was first known as Marky Mark, in 90’s hip hop group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. His album Music for the People spawned two huge hits “Good Vibrations” and “Wildside” shooting him to the top of the charts in 1991. His follow-up album You Gotta Believe was a relative flop. After this he began to turn his focus to movies. His first Performance in 1995’s Basketball Diaries put him on the map as he starred with Leonardo DiCaprio in this stunner of a drug flick. Boogie Nights was the movie that made him a big bright shining star as lovable pornstar Dirk Diggler, who’s penis was almost as big a star as he was even though it didn’t make an appearance until the final minutes. He’s played a Rock Star, a man who gets caught up in trying to understand the fabric of the universe, and a police officer trying to bring down the mob. He has even extended his career to include Executive Producer for the TV show Entourage.
Meatloaf - Not only has is album Bat Out Of Hell never left the charts, but he is a persistently working actor. According to www.IMDB.com he has logged in 59 performances on TV and in movies. Some are not as notable as others, but he shined in The Rocky Horror Picture Show as Eddie the biker, and as Robert Paulson in Fight Club.
Ludacris - I have honestly been fighting putting Ludacris on this list. After further thought, and comparing him to other Hip Hop Artists, I have decided that he is probably the most worthy. I felt the same way about his music… I didn’t like it at first and finally gave in. His current album Release Therapy has won him a Grammy, and two of his last movies have been nominated for Academy Awards. In Crash he played a car-jacker that finds himself intertwined in the lives of many other people around the LA area. In Hustle and Flow he plays a rapper. I know that a lot of people out there will say that neither seems to be a huge departure from the man he portrays on his albums, but the characters are believable, have depth, and are much more easily swallowed than many of his rapper-turned-actor counterparts. On a side note, you have to admit his feud with Oprah, and Bill O’riley is pretty humorous.