Top 20 Actors Who Are Surprisingly Good Singers
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
Where were these actors hiding their surprising singing chops? Our countdown includes Robert Downey Jr., Joaquin Phoenix, Chris Pine, and more!
Top 20 Actors Who Are Surprisingly Good Singers
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Actors Who Are Surprisingly Good Singers.
For this list, we’ll be looking at celebrities who are better known for their acting but who can also hold a tune rather well.
Did we miss your favorite singing actor? Let us know in the comments.
#20: Eddie Redmayne
As a kid, this British actor would sit in the back of his parents’ car with his brother, playing Gavroche in a “Les Misérables” reenactment. Little could he have guessed that one day he’d be cast as Marius Pontmercy in Tom Hooper’s stage-to-screen adaptation. The actor attended stage school from the age of ten but it sounds like nothing could have quite prepared him for singing live on set for several hours a day. Apparently, it took him 21 takes to get “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” just right. Nevertheless, he impressed us with his singing abilities and we can’t wait to hear him sing again.
#19: Anne Hathaway
Hathaway first garnered popularity as Mia Thermopolis in “The Princess Diaries.” But we first discovered that she could sing in “Ella Enchanted.” From “Somebody to Love” to “Don't Go Breakin' My Heart,” it was clear that this rising star had a lot of range. She was almost cast as Christine in “The Phantom of the Opera” movie too, but she dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Still, in 2012 she wowed us as Fantine in “Les Mis” instead. Interestingly, she was inspired to enter showbiz after watching her mom play Fantine on stage. If any of her movies ever receive a musical adaptation, they know who to call.
#18: Val Kilmer
Imagine if Batman delivered his famous line in his signature growl before breaking into a bit of rock n’ roll. Well, imagine no more, because as you might recall, Kilmer played Jim Morrison in the 1991 musical biopic, “The Doors.” And yes, he did all his own singing. You can also hear him in the credits of the Elvis flick, “True Romance” and on the soundtrack of his 1984 debut movie “Top Secret!”. Despite having a lovely voice, he didn’t provide the singing voice for Moses in Dreamworks’ “The Prince of Egypt.” It’s a tragedy that Kilmer lost his voice to throat cancer, but thanks to AI technology, the actor has been able to speak again.
#17: Patrick Swayze
We knew he could act, we knew he could dance, and thanks to “Dirty Dancing,” we learned that he could sing. Although, if you’d seen him play Danny Zuko on Broadway, you probably weren’t all that surprised. Anyway, like the popular dance flick, his soulful vocals on “She’s Like the Wind” became an unexpected hit. It peaked at number 3 in the U.S. Billboard Chart and even went platinum. His voice could render a room silent and leave all listeners with chills. We only wish that we had more of his music to enjoy as part of his already tremendous legacy.
#16: Kerry Washington
The actress has a beautiful voice and it’s really a scandal that we don’t get to hear it more often. Other than a spot of “Kerryoke” with Jordin Sparks and an appearance on “The Disney Holiday Singalong” in 2020, she’s managed to keep her talents relatively under wraps. Also in 2020, she made her official on-screen singing debut in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix adaptation of “The Prom.” Even though she didn’t get to sing all that much as the conservative Mrs. Greene, what we do hear is pretty impressive. Let’s hope that she doesn’t shy away from taking on more musical roles in the future.
#15: Emma Stone
Emma’s vocal talents flew under our radars until 2016’s “La La Land”, although this wasn’t the first time she’d sung on our screens. Anyway, from “A Lovely Night” to “Audition,” she amazed us with her astounding versatility. Her contributions to the movie even earned her several accolades, including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. Interestingly, her audition for Mia, a Hollywood hopeful, wasn’t all that conventional. The movie’s director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz came to see the 2013 revival of “Cabaret”, where she was making her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles. Clearly, she impressed them and the rest, as they say, is history.
#14: Catherine O’Hara
This Canadian superstar is a woman of many talents and singing is most certainly one of them. She’s probably best known for her roles in the Canadian sketch comedy, “SCTV,” “Home Alone,” “Beetlejuice,” and as the wonderfully eccentric Moira Rose in “Schitt’s Creek.” However, she’s no stranger to singing on screen either. For instance, did you know that she lends her voice to Sally and Shock in Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas?” And did you recognize her voice behind the hauntingly beautiful “Sally’s Song?” We could never tire of her soothing voice. It’s the perfect addition to this animated ghoulish holiday classic.
#13: Zachary Levi
Even if “Chuck: The Musical” was just a fantasy, that didn’t stop Zachary Levi from singing on set anyway. He was known to bust out a few bars between takes and during set changes. However, his musical chops were destined for more than just off-camera entertainment. In 2010 he voiced Flynn Rider in Disney's “Tangled” and also recorded a song with Katharine McPhee. Now that the world knew that he could sing, Broadway was calling. After making his debut with “First Date,” he received a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Georg Nowack in “She Loves Me.”
#12: Tom Hiddleston
If you aren’t surprised by this entry, then perhaps you’ve watched our other video about MCU actors who can sing. The God of Mischief actor even gave us a tune in episode three of “Loki”. But if you really want to see the extent of his singing abilities, check out the Hank Williams biopic “I Saw the Light.” It was a rather demanding role and, for a British boy, getting into the country/western vibes couldn’t have been easy either. Nevertheless, he proves that he has the vocal strength to pull it off and that he can yodel with the best of them.
#11: Chris Pine
We don’t imagine that much singing takes place aboard the Starship Enterprise. But fortunately, Captain Kirk has stopped by planet earth on occasion to showcase his singing abilities. And you know he’s good because Queen Barbra even asked him to feature on her album. Even though he’d done a spot of singing here and there, his skills were a relatively well-kept secret. That is until he was cast as Cinderella’s Prince in the 2014 movie musical, “Into the Woods.” It was a role made for him too. Sondheim is notoriously challenging, yet he nails it and brings plenty of charm and humor to the character.
#10: Oscar Isaac
Long before his breaking into showbiz, Isaac was a singer and lead guitarist for a Miami-based ska-punk band called “The Blinking Underdogs.” Although he would become more renowned for his non-musical work, he didn’t leave his love of music behind either. In 2011, he played a musician in the rom-com “10 Years,” which also featured songs written and performed by him on the soundtrack. He also left us awestruck by his performance as a down-on-his-luck folk singer in the Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Look, all we’re saying is that if “Star Wars” ever decided to go musical, they know who to call.
#9: Colin Farrell
Could you imagine this Irish bad boy as a member of Boyzone? Yeah, us neither. Catching the acting bug after his unsuccessful boy band audition, he went on to have a successful movie career instead. He starred in films like “S.W.A.T.” and “In Bruges.” But we also got to see his musical side when he was cast opposite Jeff Bridges in the 2009 drama, “Crazy Heart.” And yes, like Bridges, he did all of his own singing. His voice is so soulful and comforting and just makes our hearts melt. Life must be so hard when you’re that good-looking and talented.
#8: Jensen Ackles
Speaking of incredibly attractive, multi-talented performers… After years of delighting fans with his musical talents at conventions, the actor dropped his debut album as part of the band Radio Company in 2019. Teaming up with musician Steve Carlson, Ackles proved that no genre was out of his reach. Their song “Sounds of Someday” even appeared in a Jensen-directed episode in “Supernatural’s” final season. We’re not sure just how we’d describe his voice exactly, but we reckon he could sing anything and make it sound phenomenal. “Supernatural” may not have been a musical, but when you have a voice like that at your disposal, you use it as much as you can - and we hope he’ll continue doing so in his future projects!
#7: Joaquin Phoenix
You would think that filling Johnny Cash’s ginormous shoes would be an impossible task. But Phoenix proved that he was up to the mission and even got the singer’s blessing. Like his co-star, Reese Witherspoon, he provided all of his own vocals. Phoenix recalled the challenge of channeling the singer, but if you ask us, he didn’t disappoint. Clearly, somebody did their homework and went for the extra credit too. He and Reese even learned how to play musical instruments for their respective roles. We’re not saying that anyone could replace the legend that is Johnny Cash, but Joaquin did exceptionally well, don’t you think?
#6: Seth MacFarlane
Fans of this Rhode Island native are very aware of his impressive arsenal of voices. However, even when he’s just being Seth MacFarlane, the man has a voice like melted butter. It’s so soft and silky and you can totally picture him in line with those golden age crooners. Indeed, he lists Frank Sinatra as his idol and was clearly inspired by him while recording his six studio albums. McFarlane has received five Grammy nods for his music. His song “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from “Ted” also received the Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. Seriously, is there anything he can’t do?
#5: Gerard Butler
Okay, let’s get this out of the way first. We know that Butler’s singing wasn’t to everyone’s taste. But you’ve got to give the man some credit. He had no prior training, other than a bit of singing in an amateur rock band, and this is “The Phantom of the Opera” after all. Nevertheless, after impressing Webber in his audition, Butler trained hard for the iconic character. Admittedly his Phantom was more rock than opera but apparently, that’s what the composer was going for. Do we think that we’ll see Butler’s Phantom on stage? Probably not, but he still did a pretty good job nonetheless.
#4: Robert Pattinson
R-Patz has embodied some pretty well-known characters throughout his career. However, his stunning singing voice hasn’t always received the spotlight it deserves. Not only does he have an absolutely dreamy voice, but he also writes his own music and plays guitar and piano too. He showcased some of his skills on the “Twilight” soundtrack, both as a singer and songwriter. You can also hear him on the soundtrack for his 2008 indie dramedy, “How to Be.” And in 2010, he was named, “Hollywood's Most Influential Top Unexpected Musician.” Apparently, he has considered a career in music and we’re just saying that it’s never too late.
#3: Hugh Laurie
At first, we knew him as one half of the comedy duo “Fry and Laurie.” Then we recognized him from his titular role in the medical drama “House.” Now let us bring you up-to-date on his musical career too. Not only can he sing well but he also plays a plethora of instruments and is a member of a charity rock group called “Band From TV.” He’s also released two studio albums, consisting of classic blues music, the first of which went double platinum. Perhaps one day he’ll receive a Grammy award to add some more variety to his already impressive collection of accolades.
#2: Robert Downey Jr.
Even if you didn’t know that Iron Man had a singing career, we can think of one Avenger who definitely did. This is a nod to the actor’s 2004 debut jazz album of the same name. As well as a voice that will make you go weak at the knees, Downey is also an accomplished songwriter and keyboard player. He’s sung on several movie soundtracks, in addition to releasing his own music as well. Let’s not forget the time he nailed his duet with Sting either. Given the collective talent of the MCU stars, we’re surprised that there haven’t yet been whispers of an “Avengers” musical.
#1: Jeremy Renner
Following “End Game,” Renner returned to his musical roots, taking many of us by surprise. We knew him from the MCU franchise, “Mission: Impossible,” “The Bourne Legacy,” and a couple of Oscar-nominated roles. But a musician? Well, that was brand new information. Yet music was actually his first passion and one he’s always taken quite seriously. In addition to playing several instruments, he’s also a skilled singer-songwriter. He’s released two EPs, a single, and, like his MCU co-star, has also sung on several soundtracks for his own movies as well. “The Avengers” would make a great name for a band, we’re just sayin’.