Did you know Alyssa Milano was a pop sensation in Japan? Or that Ricky Gervais was part of a British New Wave group? Have you fallen so in love with Zoe Kravitz the actress that you’ve completely forgotten about Zoe Kravitz the singer? Here, a reminder of 30 actors who are (or were) also into making music.
New Girl’s Zooey Deschanel makes up one half of the folk-rock duo She & Him with M. Ward. The band, which features Zooey on vocals, piano, and ukulele, released their first album, Volume One, in 2008, with Pitchfork calling it “a remarkably self-assured first album.” They’ve since released five studio albums.
“With acting, I get employed. It’s a job. I have to be places at certain times,” the Big Little Lies and Mad Max star told Rolling Stone in 2014. “Lolawolf is what I choose to do with my free time.” Lolawolf is the name of her R&B/electro-pop band with fellow Brooklynites Jimmy Giannopoulos (on drums) and James Levy (keyboards).
Gossip Girl’s Taylor Momsen has been fronting the rock band The Pretty Reckless since 2009. “Acting is easy. I’ve been doing it for so long and I totally love it,” she told Parade in 2010. “But you’re playing a character instead of yourself. Music is more personal because you’re writing it and you’re involved in every step of it.”
In 2008, the Avengers star released her debut album, Anywhere I Lay My Head, featuring 10 Tom Waits covers and one original track. In 2015, she formed a band called The Singles with Este Haim, Holly Miranda, Kendra Morris, and Julia Haltigan, and they released the song “Candy.” “The idea was to write super-pop dance music written and performed by girls,” Scarlett said. “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.”
You know of his vocal talents from La La Land (and The Mickey Mouse Club), but did you know Ryan Gosling released a 2009 album called Dead Man’s Bones as part of a band with the same name? The group consists of Ryan and his friend Zach Shields. (They met in 2005 when Ryan was dating Rachel McAdams and Zach was dating her sister Kayleen.) After discovering a mutual love of all things creepy, Ryan and Zach set out to launch a spooky musical theater production, which instead became a D.I.Y. album featuring the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir. The guys played all the instruments on the album, including ones they weren’t trained to play.
Perhaps you’ve seen a photo of Robert Pattinson carrying a guitar case at an airport? It was practically a paparazzi shot genre in the Twilight years. Speaking of Twilight: Rob recorded two songs for the movie’s soundtrack (“Never Think” and “Let Me Sign”) and will be featured on the soundtrack for his upcoming movie Damsel.
In 1994, the supermodel (and these days, actress) released her one and only R&B/pop album, Baby Woman. It was mostly a flop, failing to pass no. 75 on the U.K. charts, but it did sell pretty well in Japan.
In 1982, Ricky Gervais and a friend formed the British New Wave group Seona Dancing. They released two unsuccessful singles before calling it quits, although one of them, “More to Lose,” became a huge sensation in the Philippines.
Robert Downey Jr.
He released his debut album, The Futurist, in 2004, telling The New York Times, “Clearly, I have some hesitation in being an actor who puts out an album. But after years of writing songs, it gradually became more real.”
Michael Shannon is a member of the indie rock band Corporal. In 2010, their self-titled album featured a song called “Obama,” supported the then President’s run for reelection.
The Girls star teamed up with her sister, Clara, to form the folky duo The Cabin Sisters. The name is a nod to a cabin their father, playwright David Mamet, built on their family property in Vermont. “…He’s written most of his great works in that cabin,” Zosia told Glamour. “It’s a truly magical place.”
In addition to being one of the brightest spots in Saturday Night Live history and a scene stealer in Bridesmaids, Maya Rudolph — daughter of soul singer Minnie Riperton and composer-producer Richard Rudolph — was the keyboardist and backup singer in a ’90s band called The Rentals. “The truth is that I had always felt most comfortable doing comedy,” she told Interview in 2013. “But music is such a natural part of me, it was something that I always did.”
In 2003, before Lucy Hale was even pursuing acting, she was a top-five winner on Fox’s American Juniors, a short-lived singing competition for tweens. In 2014, the Pretty Little Liars star returned to her musical roots, releasing a country album called Road Between. “The music is me,” she told Time. “It’s my stories. I’m not hiding behind anything. With acting, obviously, that’s not Lucy, that’s a character.”
The Gossip Girl star was featured on Cobra Starship’s “Good Girls Go Bad,” which peaked at no. 7 on the Hot 100, in 2009, and showed off her vocals in Country Strong in 2010. But she wouldn’t release her debut album, Heartstrings, until 2014. “It really represents me,” she told Elle ahead of its release. “It’s sensitive, it’s sort of guarded but also open and vulnerable and triumphant.”
Kevin Bacon formed a band with his brother, Michael — aptly called The Bacon Brothers. They’ve released six albums since they started making music in 1995. None of them are about bacon.
Keanu Reeves played bass guitar for the alternative-rock band Dogstar from 1991 to 2002. “You know what I hope?” he told Empire 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 freakshow, that they like the music, you know. That’s not so bad.”
The Married…With Children and Sons of Anarchy star worked as a backup singer in the ’70s and ’80s for artists including Bob Dylan and Bette Midler. She released a solo album back in 2004.
She fronted the rock band Juliette Lewis and the Licks from 2003 to 2009, then formed a new band, The New Romantiques, to put out her album Terra Incognita. “Because this album is so sonically different than anything I’ve done before and captures many flavors of my emotional life and voice, it needed an entirely new name,” she said in a statement (via NME). “‘Terra Incognita’ means unknown territory – and that’s where I wanted to go musically. The guitars are more wild and atmospheric. The groove is dark and deep and allow for a lot of sonic contrasts.”
Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for playing Ray Charles, and his musical abilities are just as notable off screen. He’s put out five R&B albums and was featured on Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.”
He’s best known for his role in Bored to Death and his work with Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom, etc.), but he’s also an accomplished musician. He was the drummer of Phantom Planet until 2003 and launched a solo project called Coconut Records in 2006. Among other things, he wrote the theme music to Bored to Death under the Coconut Records banner.
Jeff Bridges’s vocal abilities shined in the 2009 movie Crazy Heart, for which he won best actor Oscar, but he released his first album, “Be Here Soon,” almost a decade earlier, in 2000. His second, a self-titled record, came in 2011, after he signed with Blue Note Records.
Jada Pinkett-Smith is a singer-songwriter in the metal band Wicked Wisdom, and her journey in music hasn’t been the easiest. “When I played metal music, I was mocked,” she told Metro UK in 2011. “I got death threats when I was added to the Ozzfest line up but I stuck with it. At the end of that, people got on board. Me doing metal was one of my biggest learning experiences. A lot of my success is down to not being afraid.”
Before his rise as an actor, Jack Black was one half of the comedic rock duo Tenacious D (think over-the-top, theatrical rock, or what critics have called “mock rock”). In 2001, they released their first of three albums to date.
His musical talent has been showcased throughout his acting career, including on his hit show House, and he has two legit blues albums to his name: Let Them Talk (2011) and Didn’t It Rain (2013).
Frankie Muniz played the drums in rock band Kingsfoil from 2012 to 2014. He announced his departure on Facebook, writing: “Due to scheduling conflicts in the coming months, the guys in the band decided to replace me as the drummer a few weeks ago. Although I’m sad about not being a part of the band, I understand their decision and support them moving forward!”
Shameless star Emmy Rossum gave a breakout performance as Christine Daaé in the 2004 film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. (Fun fact: The role originally belonged to Anne Hathaway, who had to back out due to scheduling conflicts.) Musically speaking, Emmy followed that up with her debut pop album Inside Out (2007) and Sentimental Journey (2013).
Cara Delevingne went from model to actress to singer. She’s recorded a duet of “Sonnentanz (Sun Don’t Shine)” with jazz singer Will Heard and worked with Pharrell Williams on the song “CC the World,” which was used for Chanel’s short film Reincarnation.
Brie Larson’s one and only pop-rock album, Finally Out of P.E., was released in 2005, and it tanked, selling just 3,500 copies. As Vulture pointed out, she took to MySpace in 2008 to promise fans a new EP, but the music never materialized. Instead, her acting career took off and she put her failed attempt at pop stardom behind her.
Bruce Willis released a pop-blues album called The Return of Bruno in 1987 — so, post Moonlighting but one year prior to Die Hard — featuring nine cover songs and one original,”Jackpot,” which he co-wrote. He released his second album, If It Don’t Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger, in 1989, and dropped out of Ocean’s Eleven to record his third album, Classic Bruce Willis: The Universal Masters Collection, which came out in 2001.