If there is one thing that makes my blood go cold its when singers/rappers/crooners get cast in feature films. It is blatant and done for no other reason than to try and tap into a built in audience. Some can argue it is no different than casting Johnny Depp or Christian Bale in a movie since you hope to draw in their built in audience but at least they are actors.
The most hellish thing ever is when singers leave the comforts of singing to take a stab at acting. Jessica Simpson for one has proven how painful this can be with Private Valentine and Employee of the Month. Hot as she is and despite her ‘built in audience’ that still did not make her an actress and it showed not just in box office revenue but in the final product. As a rule there is no more hellish cross over then when singers get big and think they can act but in fairness over the years many have failed but some have succeeded and in some cases some are quite shocking.
So although I consistently rant about singers who try to act this editorial is going to take a look at 10 singers who have crossed over to acting with outstanding results. So without further ramblings here is my look at 10 Singers turned Actors that got the job done in no particular order.
Hillary Duff: As of late Hillary Duff has been trying very hard to strip her good girl Disney image with her new erotic concert getups and photos galore of her being a bad girl hitting celebrity blog sites left and right. That said Hillary did a fantastic job playing a cliché of herself in John Cusacks dark comedy War Inc. In the film she plays Yonica Babyeah a European pop princess who is heavy on sex and light on brains. I have never been a fan of Hillary Duff and clearly don’t buy her albums but must admit that she did a fantastic job playing a darker dirtier and scanckier version of her poptart self. That said as of late she has as noted tried hard to bring her War Inc character to life so perhaps it was just a trial run for things to come in her day to day life.
Rocking abs that make most envious you can only guess where she is about to put that scorpion!
Common: A Chicago born rapper I can honestly say I am not sure if I have heard any of his songs but very likely I have. He has built a strong repertoire on film as playing the strong silent ass kicking type as was demonstrated in Wanted where he played ‘The Gunsmith’. He has had small roles in films playing the same type of kick ass first, ask questions later character in Terminator Salvation, Date Night and Smoking Aces. Not a big talker but his presence on screen cannot be denied.
Mandy Moore: I would never have imagined that pop princess Mandy Moore would make for a good actress but where Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears have failed Mandy Moore has succeeded. Mandy Moore may not have ever been as big as the other two pop princesses but her down to earth personality has transformed into her on screen characters and resulted in a string of film roles including The Princess Diaries, License to Wed and Southland Tales. Lets be honest though those three films do not demonstrate her skills as an actress but fortunately she also did an indie dark comedy called SAVED where she co-starred with Macauley Culkin and showed the world she can act! SAVED is easily one of my favourite quirky comedies and a movie that Mandy can be proud to have in her resume.
Jamie Foxx: Jamie Foxx is the definition of an all American talent. He can sing, he can do stand up and he can act. Its hard to sometimes figure out what came first but it was his music. In 1994 he released his first album and in 1999 he took on his first big role in Any Given Sunday. Jamie Foxx has had some stinkers in his career like STEALTH and Miami Vice but he has also had some outstanding performances including Collateral, The Kingdom and Jarhead. Jamie Foxx to me is known as an actor not a singer which says a lot since he still releases singles to this day.
Justin Timberlake: I still remember when Justin Timberlake was trying hard to emulate Michael Jackson and dating Britney Spears. I would have never imagined he would go beyond his teen-heart throb days to become a serious actor. Most people are talking about his role as Napster creator and Facebook protégé Sean parter in The Social Network but Justin Timberlake was showing off his acting prowess long before that in the indie thriller Alpha Dog which co-starred Bruce Willis. I would have never pegged Justin Timberlake as a serious actor but he is clearly proving me wrong. Justin’s about face from singer to actor makes me think that Justin Bieber may actually be able to pull it off if he can get past the Never Say Never movie debacle that is coming.
Beyonce Knowles: Beyonce just barely squeaked onto my list and even still I almost took her off twice as I was writing this. Many people praised her role in Dreamgirls and The Fighting Temptations but playing a caricature of yourself is hardly a challenge. I finally decided to keep her on this list for her role in the stalker-thriller Obsessed where she played Sharon Charles a wife who falls prey to her husbands stalker. She also makes the list for her portrayal of Foxxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers Goldmember. Beyonce has a long ways to go to catchup with the others on this list but she might just pull it off.
Alicia Keys: Alicia Keys had a small role in one episode of The Cosby show in 1985 as Alicia Cook but yes you guessed it that is not why she made this list. She makes the list much like Hillary Duff based off of one strong performance. She had a small role in Joe Carnaghans fantastic action-thriller Smoking Aces playing assassin Georgia Sykes. A small stand out role that proved she can do alot more then just tickle the ivory’s.
Will Smith: I remember when Will Smith was doing dance tunes and his big claim to fame was the corny afternoon sitcom ( which I watched everyday ) Fresh Prince of Belair. I would have never imagined that Will smith would transition from mediocre afternoon jokester to a serious actor with films like Ali, Six Degrees of Seperation and Seven Pounds under his belt. Will Smith can play comedy, he can play drama and he can play tough guy as has been proven in his huge body of work that runs the gambit from Hancock and Men In Black to the above mentioned films. If you cast Will Smith in your movie you are hard pressed to see it fail.
Mark Wahlberg: Mark Wahlberg was a rapper and Calvin Klein model and I would have never imagined he would develop the massive career and body of work that he has. Gone are his days of brawling and controversy and half nude Calvin Klein Underwear Ads. Instead you now have a serious and hardcore actor which we just discussed in The Many Faces of Mark Wahlberg. From the dark thriller FEAR to The Fighter and The Big Hit Mark Wahlberg has not just evolved but has gotten to the point that people think of him as an actor first and have to be reminded he was once a near member of The New Kids on the Block and a tough and rumble rapper.