21 Strong Acting Roles Performed by Musicians

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Fans love to see their favorite musicians pop up in Hollywood films. But more often than not, these appearances are merely cameos that serve as a nod to the audience. However, sometimes moviegoers are treated to a beautiful performance.

From Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra, some musicians prove that some people can do it all. In this list, we would like to highlight some of the best acting roles ever performed by a musician. These incredible roles are sure to change the way you see these iconic singers.

1. Dave Grohl, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny

Photo Credit: Red Hour Films.

Who better to play a rocked-out version of Satan than the glorious Dave Grohl? This man is a legend in the Rock and Roll community. Dave has been a part of some of the best rock bands to ever exist. His portfolio includes Foo Fighter, Nirvana, and Queens of the Stone Age.

Dave Grohl played a menacing yet comedic version of the fallen angel in the film. He brought his rockstar edge to The Pick of Destiny in a way that no one else could. Not to mention his song, Beezlboss (The Final Showdown), may just be the best song in the film.

2. Harry Styles, Dunkirk

Photo Credit: Syncopy.

This Britpop artist surprised audiences with his dramatic performance in the blockbuster film Dunkirk. Harry Styles brought a genuine fear and emotional explosion to the character, which earned him praise from critics and viewers alike.

Harry Styles is mainly known for his work in the band One Direction. He has also recently turned heads for his gender-non-conforming appearance during live shows. But his performance in Dunkirk has proven once and for all that Harry Styles is also a brilliant actor.

3. Alicia Keys, Smokin’ Aces

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

This multi-grammy winner showed off her action skills to the world in Smokin’ Aces. Alicia Keys brought a raw intensity to the character Georgia Sykes, which earned her Hollywood recognition. Music fans were impressed that Keys could bring both the physical and emotional strength required for such a role.

However, Alicia Keys proved that she had the fortitude to handle whatever was thrown at her for the film. The star has accumulated over 70 acting credits and has proven that she is a brilliant musician and one of the most versatile actors in the industry.

4. Phil Collins, Hook

Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures.

Who knew the lead singer of Genesis was also an extremely talented actor? Phil Collins is famous for hits such as In the Air Tonight, You’ll Be in My Heart, and Against All Odds. This fantastic performer also appeared in the 1991 Robin Williams hit Hook.

Hook is a comedic modern retelling of Peter Pan’s exploits. Although Phil Collins only performed a cameo in the picture, it was still a brilliant display of his charm. His character, Inspector Good, is still cherished by fans of the film.

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5. Rihanna, Ocean’s 8

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Surprising absolutely no one, Rihanna did a fantastic job portraying the hacker Nine Ball in Ocean’s 8. The fourth entry into the Ocean franchise proved that heist movies are not just a boy’s club, and the female cast dominated at the box office.

Rihanna manages to be both entertaining and inspiring in the film. Primarily known as a pop singer, Rihanna proved her talent for all forms of entertainment with her fantastic performance in Ocean’s 8.

6. Jack White, Walk Hard

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Any fake musical biopic worth its salt should feature a real-life rock star. For Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story that rock star would be Jack White. The musician is most well-known for his time in The White Stripes and their enduring hit Seven Nation Army.

In Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Jack White plays the most iconic rocker of all time, Elvis Presley. Although Jack only performed a cameo as the king, he perfectly embodied his mannerisms and magnetic charm. This role showcased a talent for acting that no one expected from Jack White.

7. Keith Richards, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Johnny Depp famously based the main character of Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack Sparrow, on his lifelong friend Keith Richards. So, it only makes sense that Kieth would appear in one of the film’s sequels. What is surprising is how well the singer played his part in the movie.

Keith plays Jack Sparrow’s father, Captain Teague, in the third and fourth installments of the iconic franchise. He brings a unique personality to the character that perfectly meshes with this world of pirates and magic.

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8. Josh Groban, Crazy, Stupid, Love

Photo Credit: Carousel Productions.

This singer is beloved for his blend of contemporary and classical music styles. However, many people do not know Josh Groban is also a talented actor. He has appeared in films such as The Hollars, Muppets Most Wanted, and Coffee Town.

But his best performance was in the film Crazy, Stupid, Love. Josh played the character Richard in the film and displayed a fantastic affinity for the part. He quickly slipped into the character’s role and brought along his iconic charm and radiating aura.

9. DMX, Belly

Photo Credit: Big Dog Films.

It turns out that the rap legend DMX can play a pretty convincing gangster. Who would have thought? DMX is primarily known for rap hits such as Ruff Ryder’s Anthem, X Gon’ Give It to Ya, and Party Up. But he also did a fantastic job performing in the film Belly.

This isn’t DMX’s only foray into the world of acting. He has over 60 acting credits to his name. However, his role as Tommy “Buns” Bundy is considered by many to be the rapper’s best performance. He brought his iconic intensity to the production in spectacular fashion.

10. Lenny Kravitz, The Hunger Games

Photo Credit: Lionsgate Entertainment.

This funk-rock musician is known for hits such as Fly Away, Again, I Belong to You, and It Ain’t Over til It’s Over. However, Lenny Kravitz also appeared in one of the biggest franchises of a generation, The Hunger Games.

Kravitz appears in the first two Hunger Games films as Katniss Everdeen’s stylist, Cinna. He brings a calm and reassuring presence to the character that comforts the audience. Lenny Kravitz’s ability to carry a subtle depth to the character is impressive enough to gain him notoriety in the acting world.  

11. Snoop Dogg, Starsky & Hutch

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

This rap star has over 300 acting credits to their name. Snoop Dogg is not only one of the OG rappers but also a talented actor with a wealth of experience. He has appeared in massive hits like Training Day, Turbo, and even WrestleMania.

But his standout performance has to be Huggy Bear in Starsky & Hutch. While Snoop Dogg didn’t play the lead role in the film, he wowed audiences with his natural charisma and wit. The rap legend has repeatedly proven that he should not be disregarded in the acting world.

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12. Childish Gambino, Solo: A Star Wars Story

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

This superstar turns everything they touch into gold. Childish Gambino, A.K.A Donald Glover, is a multi-talented artist. Before launching his hit show Atlanta, he entertained the world as Troy in the sitcom Community. Gambino is also a talented stand-up artist.

Today, we will focus on his delightful performance in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Donald received widespread praise for his role as a young Lando Calrissian. He embodied the character’s suave and charm perfectly. This role again proves that this young star is a force to be reckoned with.

13. Alanis Morissette, Dogma

Photo Credit: View Askew Productions.

Playing God is a demanding role for any actor. But Alanis Morissette did a fantastic job of playing the holy mother in the cult classic film Dogma. The rock star doesn’t have any lines in the movie. Yet, she is able to bring a commanding presence to the role that demands the audience’s attention.

Alanis Morissette’s album Jagged Little Pill cemented her as one of the greatest alternative rock artists of the 1990s. She has since become a pop culture icon and has appeared in over 50 acting roles. However, her role in Dogma still stands out as one of her best performances to date.

14. Beyoncé, Dreamgirls

Photo Credit: Dreamworks Pictures.

Primarily known as the queen of R&B, Beyonce is also a talented actress. The pop legend has 140 acting credits to her name. She has appeared in blockbuster films like Obsessed, Austin Powers: Goldmember, and The Lion King.

However, she gave audiences her best performance as Deena Jones in Dream Girls. Beyonce showcased Deen’s vulnerability and strength with conviction. This impeccable performance brought her the critical acclaim she so rightfully deserves.  

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15. Meat Loaf, Fight Club

Photo Credit: Fox 2000 Pictures.

Possibly the funniest musician around, Meat Loaf delivered an inspiring and heartbreaking performance as Robert Paulson in Fight Club. The singer captured the humor and tragic nature of the character to deliver an unmissable performance.

Meat Loaf has over 100 acting credits to his name. Appearing in cult classic films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Formula 51, and Spice World. However, the singer proved his natural talent for acting in his portrayal of the misguided bodybuilder.

16. Ice-T, New Jack City

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Appearing in 524 episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Ice-T is a master of playing the severe police figure. But before becoming a staple on the hit crime show, he played an altogether different police officer in New Jack City.

Ice-T’s iconic role as Scotty Appleton in New Jack City earned the rapper critical acclaim and began his road to acting greatness. It is interesting that this star started his career writing songs about the police, only to become one of the most iconic policemen on television.

17. Will Smith, Ali

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

This rap star has entertained generations of fans with his hit TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Will Smith showed audiences that he could also deliver a deeply dramatic performance with his role as Muhammad Ali in the film Ali.

Will embodied the boxing legend’s mannerisms and personality flawlessly. This performance helped land Will an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of the flawed sports hero.

18. Eminem, 8 Mile

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

Considered by many to be the greatest rapper of all time, Eminem shook the world with his dramatic performance in 8 Mile. This semi-autobiographical work follows Marshal Mathers as he begins his journey to fame and infamy.

8 Mile showcased Eminem’s impressive acting talent, as well as his jaw-dropping musical skills. Eminem won multiple awards for his performance in the film and has since appeared in films such as The Interview and Funny People.

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19. Queen Latifah, Chicago

Photo Credit: Miramax Films.

Chicago is a groundbreaking film filled with highly talented people. Queen Latifah’s role as Matron “Mama” Morton was a standout role in this all-star cast. The legendary hip-hop artists brought a sublime mixture of emotional depth and personality to the role, entertaining generations of viewers.

20. Ice Cube, Boyz n the Hood

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

This rap star is widely known for their work in comedic films such as Friday, Ride Along, Fist Fight, and Barbershop. However, his portrayal of Doughboy in Boyz n the Hood showed audiences Ice Cube’s versatility as an actor.

In this role, Ice Cube brought an authenticity to the tale of gun violence and struggle that few others could. His role gained him critical acclaim. He also received the Best Supporting Actor award for his nuanced character portrayal.

21. Justin Timberlake, The Social Network

Photo Credit: Columbia TriStar.

Former NSYNC member Justin Timberlake is a pop culture phenomenon like the world has never known. The megastar has performed in numerous TV shows and films. However, his brilliant performance as Sean Parker on The Social Network earned the singer recognition as a talented actor.

The pop icon excited audiences with his energetic and charismatic approach to the character. Justin’s performance in the film cemented his legacy as one of the most talented people in media.

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Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

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Image Credit: Universal Studios.

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