Sometimes a guitar player, singer or drummer dabbles in -- or even makes a second career out of -- acting. Many of these movie and television forays are less than spectacular, while others are quite impressive. Yes, everyone knows Mark Wahlberg and Will Smith started out in the music biz, but since Diffuser.fm kicks it indie stylee (no disrespect to the Funky Bunch), you won’t find them here. Read our list of 10 Rockers Who Are Surprisingly Good Actors and meet some true double threats.
Not only does the versatile Nick Cave create music and act -- he also writes screenplays and composes film soundtracks. He produced and recorded the music for the stark Australian Western flick ‘The Proposition,’ and he penned the screenplay to boot. If you want to see him act, check out his small but memorable singing performance in ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,’ or his part in ‘Rhinoceros Hunting in Budapest.’ Apparently, he had some trouble with his line (which was given to another actor) in the Jesse James film, but Nick still gets an ‘A’ for effort in our book.
Flea (Michael Balzary), from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, has ventured into the acting world a number of times. Some of his best work can be seen in ‘My Own Private Idaho,’ ‘The Big Lebowski’ and the ‘Psycho' remake. The prolific bassist has nabbed cinematic parts — big and small — in more than two-dozen films. Apparently, when Flea’s not jamming with his friends, writing music or touring, he's chatting with his agent about finding him movie gigs.
Chris Isaak, the master of ethereal vocals and longing guitar licks, has indulged his acting chops in a variety of projects. You can see this crooner in films ranging from ‘The Silence of the Lambs,’ where he plays a SWAT commander, to David Lynch's ‘Twin Peaks’ feature, as well as ‘The Little Buddha’ with Keanu Reeves. Isaak has a sharp wit and the acting skill to embody different characters, so don’t be surprised if you see him pop up in a movie or one of your favorite television shows from time to time.
Yep, Henry Rollins can act. While he doesn't recite lines from 'Othello' onstage, per se — although his spoken-word performances can be quite profound — the muscular singer, writer and activist has managed to get himself into a number of decent films. Look for Rollins in ‘Johnny Mnemonic,’ ‘Heat,’ ‘Lost Highway,’ and ‘Bad Boys II.’ As his spoken-word tours and philanthropy take a bigger chunk of his time, it seems his acting roles have diminished, but hopefully we’ll get to see the former Black Flag singer in another film or two down the line.
The powerful pixie from Iceland has acted in her fair share of movies, starting with ‘The Juniper Tree’ in 1986. One of her biggest performances came with the Danish director Lars von Trier’s gloomy musical ‘Dancer in the Dark.’ Bjork won rave reviews for her portrayal of Selma, a poor immigrant struggling to help her child. The former Sugarcubes songstress has continued to perform in an assortment of films over the years. She tends to lean toward art-house features and documentaries when it comes to picking roles.
David Bowie knows how to make his presence felt both onstage and on the silver screen. He's made numerous outings onto celluloid and videotape. Some of his most iconic performances include ‘Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,’ in which he plays an English war prisoner held in Japan; ‘The Hunger,’ where he plays an aging vampire; and the quirky and complex puppetry epic ‘Labyrinth.’ Bowie's filmography is extensive, so if you’re a fan of the man, take some time and look up his cinematic works.
Mr. Costello has appeared in a bunch of films. Sometimes he plays a character with a distinct personality, although more often than not, he plays himself. No matter what persona he chooses to inhabit on any given day, he’s generally a lot of fun to watch. You can check him out in ‘Straight to Hell’ (with Courtney Love), ‘Spice World’ and ‘Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,’ as well as the sitcoms ‘Frasier’ and 'The Sitcoms,' where he helped teach Homer the finer points of rock 'n' roll.
Courtney Love’s filmography is fairly impressive. The rebellious rocker made people do double-takes and reevaluate their opinions of her stunning performance in ‘The People vs. Larry Flynt.’ She’s also sprung up in flicks like ‘Sid and Nancy,’ ‘Man on the Moon,’ ‘Trapped’ and ‘Beat.' Love is focused on music these days, but if she ever takes up the acting gauntlet again, we’ll be watching.
Our man Tom Waits has carved his mark into a slew of films, ranging from oddball indie flicks to more mainstream fare. You can evaluate his acting chops — which are very solid — in a diverse offering of movies, such as ‘Rumblefish,’ ‘The Cotton Club,’ the Jim Jarmusch cult fave ‘Down By Law’ (with Roberto Benigni), ‘Bram Stoker's Dracula,’ ‘Seven Psychopaths’ and many more. Variety, it seems, is key to Wait's success as an actor.
There’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg argument with Jared Leto. Some people know him as the lead singer of Thirty Seconds to Mars, while other recognize him primarily as an actor. Regardless, he excels in both endeavors. Some of the films you might have caught this multitalented performer in are ‘Urban Legend’; ‘Fight Club,’ in which Edward Norton's character beats the living daylights out of the pin up star; ‘American Psycho’; ‘Panic Room’; and ‘Alexander.’ Of course, if you’ve ever rocked out to Thirty Seconds to Mars live, you know Jared is an exceptionally talented musician as well.