Some actors are just that—actors. They try their luck in other fields, sometimes succeeding and sometimes falling short. One thing many try their hand on is exercising their vocal chops for a role.
Some of these brave actors, to our surprise, can actually carry a tune. The likes of Nicole Kidman, Kristin Bell, and Robert Downey, Jr. have proven in their movie or TV roles that they not only have an ear for music; they can actually belt it out pretty well. But there are others whose cringe-worthy musical performances made us wonder what the heck they were thinking when they decided to tackle a role with a singing part.
These actors, no matter how famous or beloved, really made us snicker with their attempts at singing. And there are videos to prove it.
Helena Bonham Carter
She’s known for her quirky roles and starring in almost all of Tim Burton’s dark, whimsical films. But Helena Bonham Carter certainly never gave off the impression that she could sing—and boy, she really can’t! She was cast in two roles that required singing and she wasn’t exactly singing per se—more like reciting her song lines in the movie versions of Sweeney Todd and Les Miserables.
When the movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera was announced, fans waited with bated breath to see who producers would cast as the lead characters, the phantom and Christine. Many speculated that producers would get the stars of the stage for the movie. Instead, then unknown actors Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum were cast in the roles. While Emmy Rossum gained critical acclaim for her rendition of Christine, Butler was a different story. The role of the phantom is one of the most vocally demanding in theatre history and producers would have done well to choose a better-trained singer for the role.
Known as the devilishly handsome action hero who can charm the pants off of any woman, Pierce Brosnan took everyone by surprise when he accepted the role of Meryl Streep’s love interest in the movie version of the smash hit musical, Mamma Mia! When asked what convinced him to take on the role, the former James Bond star claimed that it was the location of the movie (Greece) that got to him. Unfortunately, he proved to be a hoot to audiences whenever he opened his mouth to belt out Abba’s tunes. And though the movie was an absolute box office breaker, it sure wasn’t because of Brosnan’s singing voice!
During casting for the movie version of Les Miserables, fans were excited to learn that Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried, actors who had already proven their singing prowess in the past, were to be cast in the titular roles as Valjean, Fantine, and Cosette respectively. But many were surprised when the much coveted (and vocally demanding) role of Javert went to Australian actor, Russell Crowe. But many had high hopes that producers wouldn’t cast someone who wasn’t up to the task. Unfortunately, when the movie came out, it was flawless—save for Crowe’s vocals.
Let’s face it, Ewan McGregor is one heck of an actor. But when he was cast as the lovesick Christian in the movie musical Moulin Rouge, fans discovered that he wasn’t much of a singer. He basically muddled his way through the well-known medleys and though he did a decent job when he sang Come What May with leading lady Nicole Kidman, he gave a poor vocal performance overall.
Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore
Perhaps they wanted to jump on the band wagon of actors attempting to sing. But like many of their peers, they proved that no, Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore can’t sing. Grant starred opposite Barrymore in Music and Lyrics, where he played a former pop music idol turned composer to Barrymore’s role as an aspiring writer. The romantic comedy did fairly well at the box office and it was largely in part to Grant and Barrymore’s campy vocal performances, particularly the song that climbed the charts, “Way Back Into Love.”
Tom Cruise as a rock star? Apparently, it happened. In the movie Rock of Ages, Cruise starred as an ageing rock singer about to perform his last gig with his band. The plot itself sounded so unappealing and proof of this was the movie’s performance in the box office. It absolutely bombed and the one thing that got panned by critics was Cruise’s failed attempt at singing like he knew how to do it.
Cameron Diaz endeared her way into our hearts in My Best Friend’s Wedding, where she played the inadvertent other woman to Julia Roberts’ character. But charming as Diaz was, this movie showed that singing isn’t one of her strong suits. One of the most famous scenes in the movie is when Diaz’s character belts it out in a karaoke bar in the most off-key voice in the history of the world. Of course, she may have been doing it on purpose, but she has yet to prove if she can sing or not. We guess we’ll find out in her upcoming movie, Annie, where she’ll be playing Miss Hannigan.
The notion of an action star legend like Clint Eastwood doing a singing role is more than enough to put one off-kilter. But sing he did, in the 1959 movie musical by Lerner and Loewe, Paint Your Wagon. He was right for the setting, which was a Western, but absolutely wrong for the role of Sylvester. It’s a good thing he never thought to dabble in singing again and instead, went on to become one of Hollywood’s most respected actors and directors.