Some actors are not only familiar faces on television or the silver screen: many popular actors in Hollywood also have voices that are familiar to the radio waves. Famous actors including Jared Leto, Zooey Deschanel and Jada Pinkett Smith are well established in the music scene. Several actors have released CDs, performed live concerts around the country and have even won awards for their musical talents.
Although some actors are met with more success than others when venturing into the music scene, that doesn’t stop many in Hollywood from pursuing fame (and fortune) in both the music and acting worlds. The following are ten actors who are also currently moonlighting as musicians and have enjoyed at least a degree of fame in the world of music.
Jared Leto – Thirty Seconds to Mars
Jared Leto might have recently received the acting industry’s top honor by winning Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards for “Dallas Buyers Club,” but he has already enjoyed success in the music world as the lead vocalist for the critically acclaimed band Thirty Seconds to Mars. The group was formed in 1998 and released their debut album in 2002. In 2013, the band released their fourth album, “Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams.” The album has been approved by critics and fans alike – it has sold over 10 million albums worldwide. Often compared to groups such as Pink Floyd and The Cure, Thirty Seconds to Mars has sold out numerous tours and has been a headline act at several festivals.
Zooey Deschanel – She & Him
The quirky and very popular “New Girl” television actress and star of several indie films is also an accomplished singer in the indie music circuit. She is one part in a duo with guitarist M. Ward called She & Him. She & Him’s first album, Volume One, was released in March 2008. Aside from vocal work, Zooey also plays piano and ukulele. She first joined up with Ward when working on the set of the film The Go-Getters. The two write their own music, which is often upbeat and evokes a classic, nostalgic feel of a different era.
Jason Schwartzman – Coconut Records, previously Phantom Planet
The actor best known for on-screen collaborations with Wes Anderson (including Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox) was actually a musician before he broke into acting. He was originally a drummer and songwriter for the band Phantom Planet, which was perhaps best known for “The O.C.” theme song, “California.” Nowadays, Schwartzman is busy with an indie rock solo act called Coconut Records. He has released two albums as a part of this solo act, the most recent, “Davy,” was released in 2009.
Jada Pinkett Smith – Wicked Wisdom
Well-known for her work on screen in movies such as “The Nutty Professor,” “Scream 2,” “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions,” it might be surprising to some that Jada Pinkett Smith is in fact a talented musician and lead singer and songwriter in the metal band Wicked Wisdom. After touring with Britney Spears in 2004 and playing at 2005’s Ozzfest, the debut album was released in 2007. Many have applauded her work and talents as a musician, including Sharon Osborne.
Taylor Momsen – The Pretty Reckless
The “Gossip Girl” actress is also well known for being lead vocalist and guitarist in a New York City-based rock band, The Pretty Reckless. Momsen has said the band’s influences include The Beatles, Nirvana and Oasis. Their debut album was released in 2010. In 2014, Pretty Reckless released their second studio album called “Going to Hell.” The group has enjoyed moderate success: one of the singles from “Going to Hell” has done well in the UK and US Rock Charts.
Maya Rudolph – Princess, previously The Rentals
Maya Rudolph, known for her work on Saturday Night Live and one of the lead actresses in “Bridesmaids,” was actually a backing singer for The Rentals in the 1990s before she landed her gig on Saturday Night Live. Although she hasn’t performed with The Rentals since the mid-2000s, she is currently a part of a Prince cover band called Princess, which performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2012.
Greg Grunberg – Band from TV
Television actor Greg Grunberg (from shows including Heroes, Felicity and Lost), came up with the idea for a cover band that would have members who are actors from a variety of television series.
The band donates proceeds of their performances and recordings to charity. Since debuting at an Emmy after party in 2007, Band from TV has played at a number high-paying charity concerts. The group’s current members also include Hugh Laurie and Teri Hatcher, in addition to the many guests the band has welcomed from a variety of television shows over the years.
Bruce Willis and The Accelerators
Bruce Willis has been a musician since the 1980s, recording solo albums in 1987, 1989 and 2001. Perhaps his biggest hit was the song “Under the Boardwalk,” which reached number 2 in the UK Top 40 in the late 1980s. In 2003, he played a USO and Armed Forces Entertainment concert in Iraq. Although his singing career has been relatively quiet in recent years, judging from the fact that his singing career has spanned three decades, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him reappear on stage at some point.
Jack Black – Tenacious D
Formed in 1994, Tenacious D is led by actor, singer and comedian Jack Black. Satire and comedy characterize the group’s music. Tenacious D has released three albums; the latest in 2012 was called “Rize of the Fenix”. Tenacious D often blends their acting and singing work, as exemplified by the film “The Pick of Destiny” which was written, produced and starred members of the group.
Ryan Gosling – Dead Man’s Bones
“The Notebook” actor Ryan Gosling founded the rock duo “Dead Man’s Bones,” with Zach Shields after the two met in 2005. Their first album was released in 2009, and Gosling and Shields toured around North America following its release. Although they never officially dissolved, the duo has been quiet since 2010.