The best actors bring many hidden skills with them when doing a performance. Being an action star might require great agility and physical strength, starring in a sports movie will usually require some serious athletic talents and taking on a musician role means you should probably be able to tap into some musical abilities to avoid looking foolish.
Singing is one of those skills that many actors learn when they are first coming up in community theater or when they are going to drama school, but you’d never know that some actors are actually great singers unless they happen to star in a musical.
Here are some talented entertainers that are well known for their acting skills but, surprisingly, can really belt out a tune when they need to.
If you’ve ever watched “Family Guy,” you’ve heard Seth MacFarlane’s rich voice in several roles on the show, especially in his work as Brian Griffin. He’s also shown off his live-action acting chops in projects like “The Orville” and “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” But did you know MacFarlane is also a gifted singer in the vein of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett? Since 2011, he’s released four albums of him singing traditional big band music, earning four Grammy nominations along the way.
Who doesn’t love Kristen Bell? Yet another reason to be a fan of this charming and hilarious actor is the fact that she can really sing. Unlike many big-name voice actors who work on animated Disney films, Bell actually sang all of her own numbers as Anna in “Frozen.” She was classically trained in musical theater and had done some work on Broadway before landing her breakout roles in “Veronica Mars” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
OK, you’ve probably been living under a rock if you didn’t know Hugh Jackman can sing, but we are still including him for anyone who has only seen him in action as Wolverine in the X-Men movies. Jackman has proven himself to be one of the most versatile actors in the world, nailing roles across several genres including musicals like “Les Misérables” and “The Greatest Showman.” Jackman’s musical talents have also earned him two Tony Awards and a Grammy nomination.
If you’ve only known Emmy Rossum as Fiona Gallagher on “Shameless” for the past nine years, you might not realize she’s an accomplished singer. When she was just a teenager, she broke out for her lead performance in the 2004 film version of “The Phantom of the Opera,” which required her to do a lot of difficult singing. After that, she released a pair of albums, including one where she co-wrote nearly every track.
Many people have said Zooey Deschanel and Katy Perry look like twins separated at birth. Well, another similarity that binds them is that they can both carry a tune. Deschanel showed off her singing skills a bit in 2003’s “Elf” but became more serious about music after that. Since 2008, she’s been a singer as part of the duo She & Him, which has released six albums, including a pair of Christmas records. The musical pair have even been nominated for a Grammy.
It’s surprising that Scarlett Johansson has yet to star in a movie musical, given how much time she’s spent moonlighting as a singer in the past decade. From 2008 to 2009, Johansson released a pair of albums that sold moderately well, and after taking a break from music, she released a new EP with frequent collaborator Pete Yorn in 2018. Johansson even performed at Coachella once!
Kids who grew up in the ’90s probably have a fond place in their hearts for ex-Disney star Raven-Symoné, but many may not realize she’s a great singer. A star basically from the time she could walk, Raven-Symoné released her first album in 1993, at the age of 7, and has put out three other records since then. She also sang on the soundtracks for her Disney Channel projects “That’s So Raven” and “The Cheetah Girls.” In 2012, Raven-Symoné made her Broadway debut, starring in the show “Sister Act.”
Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto has arguably had more success as a mainstream singer than any other star on this list. Since 2002, he’s been the lead singer of the rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars, selling millions of records in the process. The band has released five albums in that time, with each one charting higher than the previous release, culminating in the band’s 2018 album, “America,” peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
Unlike other actors on this list, Reese Witherspoon had to learn to sing before taking on a role that required it, rather than stepping in with her vocal chops already there. For Witherspoon’s Oscar-winning role as June Carter Cash in 2005’s “Walk the Line,” Witherspoon took four months of singing lessons before she felt comfortable performing all the film’s songs herself in front of live audiences. In 2016, she dusted off her microphone again, performing several songs for the animated movie, “Sing.”
When most people think of Ewan McGregor, they probably think of Obi-Wan Kenobi or the punky heroin addict he played in “Trainspotting” — but anyone who’s seen “Moulin Rouge” knows he has a hell of a singing voice. McGregor’s role in that 2001 movie musical earned him a Golden Globe nomination and led to his acclaimed work onstage in “Guys and Dolls” in 2005. He sang again on screen recently in Disney’s 2017 live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” in which he played Lumiére.
Audiences first got to hear Emma Stone’s pipes in her breakout 2010 movie “Easy A,” but the talented actor has gone on to show off her singing skills much more since then. In 2014, she made her Broadway debut in “Cabaret” and then won an Oscar for her starring role in the 2016 musical, “La La Land.” In case you still doubt Stone’s musical talents, check out her performance of “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from that movie.
Another actor who earned an Oscar for a role in a musical is Anne Hathaway, whose performance in 2012’s “Les Misérables” included a powerhouse rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.” Before that, Hathaway sang on the soundtrack of her 2004 movie “Ella Enchanted.” She’s even performed with Barbra Streisand, singing with the icon on her 2016 album, “Encore.”
Former “Saturday Night Live” star Jason Sudeikis isn’t known as a musical theater performer, but maybe he should be. Sudeikis showed off his talents for singing on “SNL” a few times during his tenure on the show but he really proved he could belt it out during his run as a guest star on “The Last Man on Earth.” On the show, he sang a duet of the song “Falling Slowly” numerous times with co-star Will Forte. In 2011, he sang a duet with Emma Stone at the MTV Movie Awards, further displaying his musical talents.
If you only know Phylicia Rashad from her iconic role on “The Cosby Show,” you might not realize how truly gifted a performer she is. Before breaking into TV, Rashad racked up several credits on Broadway, including in “Dreamgirls” and “The Wiz.” In the 1970s, when she was working under the name Phylicia Allen, she released a disco album called “Josephine Superstar.” Who knew?
If you’ve only followed Anna Kendrick’s acting work in Hollywood comedies and dramas, you might not realize she has a serious background in musical theater. As a child, Kendrick worked often on stage, landing her first Broadway role at the age of 13 in “High Society.” She earned a Tony nomination for that performance and went on to perform in “A Little Night Music” with the New York City Opera in 2003. Since then, she’s shown off her singing chops in movies like “The Last Five Years,” “Into the Woods,” “Trolls” and the “Pitch Perfect” series.
Anyone who’s seen Amy Adams in her slew of Oscar-nominated roles knows she’s an immensely talented actor, but you might not realize she’s also a great singer. In 2007, Adams proved her might with a microphone by handling all the singing duties for her role in Disney’s live-action/animated musical, “Enchanted.” She also sang several songs for the soundtrack of the 2011 movie “The Muppets.” In 2012, she made her New York stage debut starring in the Public Theater’s revival of “Into the Woods.”
When you are as handsome and charming as Taye Diggs, you don’t really need to be able to sing to turn heads — but he definitely can. The actor is perhaps best known for screen roles in projects like “The Best Man” and ABC’s “Private Practice,” but he’s proven to be a gifted musical theater performer as well. Diggs has done plenty of work on Broadway, starring in productions of “Chicago,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and as a member of the original Broadway cast of “Rent.”
The beloved Gwyneth Paltrow was already a star in Hollywood when she finally showed the world she could also carry a tune. In 2000, she sang in the movie “Duets,” before really showing her musical skills in the 2010 film “Country Strong.” Paltrow sang throughout the film and even performed a number from it at the 2011 Academy Awards. Paltrow also sang on Fox’s “Glee,” which was co-created by her now-husband Brad Falchuk.
Before he was known for starring roles in hit horror films like “Insidious” and “The Conjuring,” Patrick Wilson made his name in musical theater and is, without question, one of the best singers in Hollywood. He’s been a staple of Broadway since the mid-’90s and has starred in productions including “Oklahoma! and ” “The Full Monty,” picking up two Tony nominations along the way. Despite a gift for belting out tunes, Wilson has mostly stayed away from movie musicals, with 2004’s “The Phantom of the Opera” being your only chance to see him star in one.
While she’s proven herself as a gifted dramatic and comedic actor during her career, Emily Blunt does not have an extensive background in musical theater. But that doesn’t mean she can’t sing. Blunt proved her vocal chops first by starring in the 2014 movie version of “Into the Woods” and earning rave reviews for her performance. The British star followed that up in 2018 by stepping into the immortal title role of “Mary Poppins Returns,” where she sang alongside Broadway icon Lin-Manuel Miranda.
You won’t catch Kiefer Sutherland singing on Broadway or starring in any movie musicals but the intense “24” actor has proven to have a talent for music. Since 2005, he’s owned his own record label, Ironworks. Sutherland himself got into the business of performing music in 2016, when he released his debut album, “Down in a Hole,” on which he co-wrote every song.
Anyone who watched Eddie Murphy on “Saturday Night Live” knows he can sing. He became one of the show’s most popular stars ever, partly by doing an incredible impression of Stevie Wonder and for singing a memorable, soulful song as Rev. Jesse Jackson. Murphy also showed off his vocals in early movies like “48 Hours” and “Trading Places,” but waited until 2006’s “Dreamgirls” to play a role that included a lot of singing. He was nominated for an Oscar for that performance.
Viewers who know Hailee Steinfeld only for acclaimed roles in movies like “True Grit” and “The Edge of Seventeen” might not realize she’s also putting together a solid career as a pop singer. On screen, Steinfeld has sung in “Pitch Perfect 2” and “Pitch Perfect 3,” while also doing a song for the soundtrack of her 2018 film, “Bumblebee.” In 2015, she released her debut EP, which sold well and had success on the charts. She’s since gone on tour with A-list musicians like Katy Perry and Charlie Puth, serving as their opening act.
If you only know Alan Cumming for his work on CBS shows like “The Good Wife” and “Instinct,” you only know half of this gifted performer’s talents. Cumming is a theater icon, starring in Broadway productions of shows including “The Threepenny Opera” and “Cabaret,” winning a Tony for the latter. He’s also released a pair of albums and numerous singles and even performed his own Las Vegas show, “Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs,” which was broadcast on PBS in 2016.
He may be better known for his confident performances in action movies like the new Star Trek series and “Wonder Woman,” but Chris Pine could just as easily be starring in musicals. In fact, he has shown off his singing voice in films like “Into the Woods” and “Small Town Saturday Night.” In 2016, Pine was invited to sing with Barbra Streisand on her album, “Encore,” which had to be quite an honor. In a 2017 episode of “Saturday Night Live,” Pine took center stage and sang as part of an a cappella group in a parody of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”