As many actors as have portrayed famous musicians over the years there seems to be an ever-growing number of actors who have chosen to take the concept a step further and actually pursue musical careers while still maintaining their acting credibility. While the concept of musicians pursuing acting careers has been around as far back as Elvis Presley, these days, there seems to be an even greater influx of already established actors tackling roles as musicians. Dish decided to round up the top actors pulling double duty these days as musicians and came up with the following list of their most recent projects.
Ranked as the #1 actor worldwide on IMDB’s STARmeter, Robert Pattinson has a lot going for him. Young girls all over the world swooned as they watched him play Edward Cullen, the pale faced vampire in last year’s film adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s hit series, Twilight. The up-and-coming actor is also a musician, and has been for quite a while. He plays guitar and piano and is a phenomenal singer, but he has not recorded much more than a few tracks of his own music, opting instead to play pubs and other intimate venues. Of the few songs that are recorded, however, two (“Never Think” and “Let Me Sign”) are on the Twilight soundtrack. “Let Me Sign” is a haunting electric blues ballad whose dark themes echo those of the movie that has made him a huge star. In “Never Think,” Pattinson interprets simple lyrics with tortured vocals, telling a story that explores some of young love’s darker contradictions. In his recent film How To Be (2008), Pattinson sings three original songs for the soundtrack. The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Little Ashes are two new Pattinson starrers set for release later this year. According to IMDB, he has also been cast in the lead roles for two films still in pre-production (Unbound Captives and Remember Me). His current band, in which he plays with an ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend, is called Bad Girls. www.robertpattinson.org
Billy Bob Thornton – Boxmasters
Set to return with their third and most powerful release to date—Modbilly—Billy Bob Thornton’s traditional Country/Americana band The Boxmasters offer up two sides of one very compelling story. The two disk set features twelve self-penned songs that are the most intensely felt, moving tracks to ever appear on a Boxmasters recording. Such standouts include "Hollow Walls," "Going Home" and the haunting "Turn It Over," written by Thornton and Brad Davis. The second disk includes an eclectic assortment of cover songs, reflecting The Boxmasters taste and sensibility in a fascinating style, including Tom Rush's "Merrimack County" to the classic country song "Half A Mind" (originally made famous by the great Roger Miller) to the Rolling Stones' "As Tears Go By" to John Hartford's "Gentle On My Mind." Yet, no Boxmasters release would be complete without the wit and wisdom one has come to expect reflected in the original wonderfully titled, "That's Why Tammy Has My Car." www.billybobmusic.com
Jack Black – Tenacious D
Though Jack Black and Kyle Gass’ satirical rock band Tenacious D hasn’t released a record since 2006’s The Pick of Destiny, the widely acclaimed band recently released their second video collection entitled The Complete Masterworks Part II. The two disk DVD set features footage from the band’s performances in Seattle, Washington on February 16 and 17, 2007, in addition to numerous bonus videos, live television performances and D Tour: A Tenacious D Documentary. The documentary focuses on the tour Tenacious D made in support of the film and soundtrack for The Pick of Destiny and the consequences of its poor showing at the box office. www.tenaciousd.com
Zooey Deschanel – She & Him
There were many who first fell in love with Zooey Deschanel's charmingly distinctive voice when she crooned "Baby It’s Cold Outside" with Will Ferrell in their 2003 movie, Elf, but it wasn’t until powerhouse indie rocker M. Ward invited her onstage during one of his summer concerts that people really started to stand up and pay attention. In their first recorded collaboration as She & Him, the duo seems to have effortlessly created the musical equivalent of paradise for many listeners. Described as a love letter to the musicians who inspired it, the innocuously titled Volume One aims to achieve the warmth and charm of pop and country records from the early and mid part of the twentieth century with resounding success. She & Him draw inspiration from such artists as Les Paul and Mary Ford, The Ronettes, Nina Simone, Chet Atkins, Linda Ronstadt and the Carter Family. www.sheandhim.com
Perhaps she’s not an actress in the strictest sense of the word, but nonetheless, it cannot be argued that Paris Hilton is perhaps one of the most recognizable faces in the entertainment industry today. The high profile celebutant founded Heiress Records, a sub-label of Warner Bros. Records, in 2004 and released her self-titled debut album, Paris, under that label two years later to wide acclaim. In an interview in late 2008 with MTV, Hilton announced that her second album was going to be a dance album. She stated that she "loves Bob Sinclar" and wants to create dance-music vibe. Hilton later premiered her song "My BFF" on KIIS-FM with host Ryan Seacrest. It is to be the first single from the as yet untitled second studio album and the theme song of her show Paris Hilton's My New BFF. A second song, "Paris For President," was released along with a music video late October 2008.She can also be heard singing on the soundtrack to the musical Repo! The Genetic Opera. There is as yet no release date announced for the upcoming album, which Hilton has stated in interviews is now complete. www.parishilton.com
Jamie Foxx is another actor whose foray into the music industry has not gone unnoticed by Dish. As already mentioned, Foxx portrayed Ray Charles in Ray, for which he received an Oscar. In this year’s The Soloist, Foxx played Nathaniel Ayers, a schizophrenic, classically trained violinist and cellist living on the streets of L.A. But his talents far exceed playing musically gifted individuals; he himself also has an ear for music. His first CD was Peep This, released in 1994. More than a decade later, he released his second CD, Unpredictable, which, along with various other musical performances, garnered him several Grammy nominations in 2006 and 2007. Foxx has also been featured on hit songs such as “Slow Jamz” (2003), “Gold Digger” (2005), “Georgia” (2005), “Live in the Sky” (2006), and “Please Excuse My Hands” (2008). He is currently on tour promoting his third CD, Intuition. For a full list of cities where he will be performing, visit his official website at www.jamiefoxx.com.
Steve Martin, banjo player
Most notably known as a standup comedian and actor, Steve Martin has officially added another skill, that of musician. At 63 he has released his first CD, called The Crow, a collection of five banjo songs that he wrote. Martin has always used the banjo in his set, but most have seen it as a comedic prop, not something to be taken seriously. But when Earl Scruggs asked him to play on this re-recording of the legendary “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” for his new CD, Earl Scruggs and Friends, it was clear to anybody who knew anything about music that Steve was a serious musician. Steve is known in the bluegrass community as a master (yes, master) of the Clawhammer method of playing. On his new CD, you can even hear his lyrical writing abilities on a duet by Vince Gill and Dolly Parton called Pretty Flowers. You can buy his CD at Amazon. www.stevemartin.com
Greg Grunber, James Deoton, Hughie Laurie, Bonnie Somerville, Bob Guiney -
Band From TV
Led by Heroes star Greg Grunberg, Desperate Housewives star James Denton, House star Hugh Laurie, Cashmere Mafia star Bonnie Somerville and the original star of the Bachelor Bob Guiney, Band From TV is a collection of television actors who have come together to form one of the most compelling side projects ever assembled. Band From TV is all about giving, with the majority of the money raised from gigs and the band's recent DVD being donated back to help charities in their endeavors. While talented actors, the band is truly about celebrating music, living the rock and roll fantasy and having fun while bringing classic rock and roll music to life. The recent CD/DVD, Hoggin’ All The Covers, allows fans an inside look and backstage perspective as well as a front row seat to a concert that will have you singing to each of the famous hit songs the band plays. 100% of the bands proceeds are being donated to charities including "Epilepsy Foundation" and "Save The Children," just to name a few. www.bandfromtv.org