Today, we will be focusing on actors who are also musicians. Of course, any trained thespian should be able to sing at the very least. Granted, too few actors are properly trained these days, but there are countless options for today’s topic all the same: Jamie Foxx, Jessica Pimentel, Corey Feldman, Kiefer Southerland, Russell Crowe, Billy Bob Thornton, David Hasselhoff, Jason Schwartzman, Alexey Vorobyov, Kirsten Dunst, Scarlett Johansson, etc. Even Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields have put out an album, Dead Man’s Bones (2009).
We all know that The Pretty Reckless‘ Taylor Momsen had an illustrious acting career, but she has since given up on the dramatic arts. Some French film stars who are also songstresses include Jeanne Balibar, Marion Cotillard, and Catherine Deneuve. The femme fatale Marlene Dietrich was more Satanic behind the microphone, as well as in the bedroom, than most black metal musicians. On a very different note, we probably don’t need to mention the likes of the Mary Poppins star Julie Andrews and the late yet equally angelic Angela Lansbury here, but we assume that a good portion of metalheads secretly dream about them.
Without further ado, we present our main list of actors whose passion for music qualifies them as double threats, if not much more.
Charlotte Gainsbourg follows in the footsteps of her multi-talented, iconic, late parents — the wonderfully provocative Mr. Serge Gainsbourg and the lovely Jane Birkin. Gainsbourg has been singing professionally since she was a child. She is, of course, an exceptional and fearless artist, who has given extremely “metal” performances in films like Lars von Trier‘s Antichrist (2009), Nymphomaniac (2013), and Nymphomaniac: Volume II (2013/2014). If you plan on rewatching the Nymphomaniac epic, know that Gainsbourg recorded the cover of “Hey Joe,” which plays during the second volume’s credits.
Anders Danielsen Lie
Anders Danielsen Lie is a Renaissance man — a doctor, published author, actor, husband to model Iselin Steiro, father, and musician. Danielsen Lie plays guitar, bass, drums, and piano. He is also a vocalist. For about ten years, Danielsen Lie was the drummer of a group called Dusjplaster, as he told Den Hemmelige Gitaristen. In 2011, he released a solo album called This Is Autism (2011). Expect more in the future. Danielsen Lie appreciates many genres, including metal: Iron Maiden, Kreator, Metallica, Kiss, Alice in Chains, Celtic Frost, Darkthrone, Satyr and Fenriz‘s Storm, Death, etc.
Danielsen Lie began his acting career as a child. He has gone on to give so many stellar performances in international productions. In fact, I firmly believe that he is one of the greatest actors of this century. Danielsen Lie‘s work in director Joachim Trier‘s “Oslo Trilogy” is particularly special. The trilogy began with the awarded Reprise (2006); continued with the instant classic Oslo, August 31st (2011); and ended with the global phenomenon that was the Oscar-nominated The Worst Person in the World (2021). An interesting fact is that Danielsen Lie‘s grandmother was a piano teacher. This gives new meaning to the scene from Oslo in which his character, also “Anders,” slips up while attempting a composition by Handel and then relapses on heroin.
We should mention that Joachim Trier, a former skateboard champion and all-around cool individual, comes from an artistic family. His father was a sound technician as well as a jazz musician. Trier enjoys DJing. This is perhaps why music has been used so brilliantly in his films.
Andreas Tylden, or “Andras Marquis T.,” earned his place in the history of extreme metal for his time as the bassist of the disbanded powerhouse One Tail, One Head. Although this outfit will always be inevitably included in the black metal category, guitarist Jan Even Åsli, whom you might also know from Vemod, has stated that he has never viewed OTOH as “black metal.” Indeed, the enigmatic nature of OTOH has proven too complex to describe. Many have voiced the opinion that OTOH was one of the best bands to witness live. Andreas joined following the tragic death of the legendary Steingrim Torson Brissach. Andreas played beside Åsli, of course; ⷚ, a.k.a. Sundli; and the insanely prolific Afgrundsprofet, a.k.a. Wraath and Luctus — the last two artists continue to perform together in Mare and Beyond Man. In addition to OTOH, Andreas has belonged to a variety of other acts. For example, he fronted the punk band JR Ewing. He was an original member of Thunderbolt. Andreas furthermore founded Altaar, initially as his solo project. The list continues.
Andreas is yet another Renaissance man — a great talent like his father, the revered late record producer and songwriter Audun Tylden. Andreas works as an art director and graphic design. Like Danielsen Lie, Andreas has also collaborated with Joachim Trier. Andreas appeared as “Rune” in Reprise — your go-to cinematic masterpiece if you love Heidegger and Nietzsche jokes. In the film, Rune is described as the former guitarist of “Kommune” and the current frontman of “Mondo Topless.” Andreas actually composed two of the songs for Reprise‘s soundtrack along with Turbonegro‘s Knut as “Euroboy” Schreiner. We would love to see Andreas in a new film soon!
The Swedish Dicks co-creator and thespian Peter Stormare is known for the likes of Fargo (1996) and The Big Lebowski (1998). Stormare was perfectly cast in Lars von Trier‘s beautifully perverse Dancer in the Dark (2000), which not only won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, but also allowed Björk to earn the win for best actress there and elsewhere. Stormare did sing in that musical film.
As an actor, Stormare appears in the video for “Uprising” by Sabaton, “Graven” by Possessed, a couple songs by Lindemann, and so forth. Storemare recently shot a video with Pain, Hypocrisy, and ex-Lindemann‘s Peter Tägtgren. U2‘s Bono was actually the one who encouraged Stormare to pursue music, which he had already been exploring. Stormare even set up a label called StormVox Records.
Brendon Small is an actor, voice actor, animator, comedian, director, producer, writer, composer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. But really, Small is a man who needs no introduction here. As the co-creator of the Metalocalypse franchise, Small has worked with many of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Metalocaypse has featured an incredible number of high-profile artists: Cannibal Corpse‘s Corpsegriner, Enslaved‘s Arve Isdal, film icon Malcom McDowell, Guns N’ Roses‘ Slash, Metallica‘s James Hetfield‘s and Kirk Hammett, and director Werner Herzog.
Small has not only made music for Metalocalypse‘s shows, but he has completed five Dethklok albums if we include the soundtrack to Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem — A Klok Opera. Dethklok‘s most recent offering was Dethalbum IV, which premiered alongside the film Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar. Small collaborates with drummer Gene Hoglan. Some of the other artists who have appeared on Dethklok records are Emilie Autumn, Bryan Beller, and Mike Keneally. Many of us already know that Small has toured under the Dethklok banner. His debut solo album is an extreme rock effort titled Brendon Small‘s Galaktikon (2012). The follow-up was released in 2017.
David Duckhovny, who holds degrees from both Yale and Princeton, wears several hats besides that of an actor. He is also a novelist, writer, producer, director, and singer-songwriter. Duckhovny performs live around the world. You can check out his albums: Hell or Highwater (2015), Every Third Thought (2018), and Gestureland (2021). Oddly enough, the musician and actress Bree Sharp released a 1999 single titled “David Duchovny.”
Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael have released several albums as The Bacon Brothers, which was founded in 1997. They also enjoy touring. Kevin Bacon‘s wife, Kyra Sedgwick, and daughter, Sosie, have attempted to get in on his action. The Bacons have posted videos of family song time on social media. Bacon and Sedgwick‘s son, Travis Bacon, is a highly accomplished producer, engineer, musician, composer, etc. Notably, Travis formerly played with the NYBM kings Black Anvil. You might have heard that Travis created the music for his parents’ film Space Oddity (2023).
Actor, screenwriter, and martial artist Steven Seagal clearly has a passion for music. Seagal sings and also plays guitar, drums, etc. In 2005, Seagal presented his genre-defying debut album, the eclectic Songs from the Crystal Cave, which featured the likes of Stevie Wonder. He then released the blues effort Mojo Priest (2006) as Steven Seagal & Thunderbox. Seagal has toured his material.
Johnny Depp was a musician even before he became an actor. In the past, Depp was part of the supergroup P, and he currently belongs to Hollywood Vampires along with Alice Cooper, Alice Cooper‘s Tommy Henriksen, and Aerosmith‘s Joe Perry. The band has hit the road with live recruits like Stone Temple Pilots‘ Robert DeLeo, Guns N’ Roses members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, and so forth. The eclectic Pink Grenade was another venture that included Depp.
Depp‘s ex-wife Vanessa Paradis is another screen star, singer, and model. Their daughter, actress Lily-Rose Depp, is also singing these days.
Actress Juliette Lewis is respected for her work as a rock vocalist. She fronts Juliette and the Licks and has also worked as a solo artist. In the past, Lewis fronted the metal supergroup Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, whose current lead vocalist is Alice in Chains‘ William DuVall. Lewis appeared in HIM‘s music video for “Buried Alive by Love,” though she did not sing on the track.
We are all aware that Macauly Culkin starred in Home Alone (1990) as a child. As an actor, he has appeared in the video for “Black or White” by Michael Jackson, with whom he had a highly publicized friendship, and Sonic Youth‘s “Sunday.” Culkin co-founded the Pizza Underground in 2013. In 2018, Culkin revealed that the band had broken up. During the Pizza Underground‘s somewhat brief run, Culkin provided vocals, percussion, and kazoo. As you might have guessed, the Pizza Underground parodied songs by the Velvet Underground. The outfit’s whole concept was interpreted by audiences as disrespectful, an outrage (worthy of flying beer cans) even. Whether or not this was fair is debatable.
(What is a more cut and dry matter, however, is that Macaulay Culkin‘s brother Rory took part in what Darkthrone‘s Fenriz too kindly dubbed “the worst idea since un-sliced bread” — the atrociously executed Lords of Chaos . I personally perceive this as the most heinous crime against black metal. As Metalion told Bardo Methodology: “Call me old-fashioned or whatever, but I really dislike that the deaths of two comrades are made into entertainment for kids who find it ‘cool.'” Nothing about the film was cool, by the way.)
Actor Jeff Goldblum is, in fact, a jazz pianist. Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra toured this year in support of their latest album, Plays Well with Others (2023). They have also released the records I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This (2019) and The Capitol Studios Sessions (2018). For a time, Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra played weekly shows at the Carlyle Hotel.
Although most people tend to think of Woody Allen as a filmmaker first, he is also clearly an author, playwright, comedian, and actor. Allen is furthermore a tireless jazz musician. His first instrument was the saxophone, which he picked up at 15. The clarinet, however, would prove his true life partner. Allen has given countless performances at the Carlyle Hotel. Before that, he installed himself as a fixture for nearly 25 years at Michael’s Pub until it closed. The Meridian Hotel was another one of his preferred spots. Allen brings his talent near and far with his New Orleans Jazz Band.
The Oscar-winning actor, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Jared Leto founded Thirty Seconds to Mars with his brother Shannon Leto in 1998. Tool‘s Maynard James Keenan actually appeared on the band’s debut album, 30 Seconds to Mars (2002). The aspect of Mr. Leto‘s persona that piques our interest the most, however, is his tendency to make bold fashion choices.
Keanu Reeves plays bass in the alt-rock band Dogstar. Currently, Dogstar also includes Bret Domrose and actor Robert Mailhouse. The group was founded in 1991. They broke up in 2002 after releasing two albums and an EP. Dogstar took the entertainment world by surprise when they reunited this year and announced some ambitious plans.
Movie star and filmmaker Clint Eastwood is a pianist with a special love of jazz, country, and western. Eastwood has composed for films and released albums, such as Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites (1963). You can hear his work performed on Eastwood After Hours: Live at Carnegie Hall (1996), for example. Eastwood‘s son Kyle is a bassist and composer.
Pyotr Mamonov (R.I.P.)
Pyotr Mamonov achieved fame as the vocalist and guitarist of the fluid entity known as Zvuki Mu, which emerged in the early 1980s. A couple of Zvuki Mu‘s albums were actually released through Opal Records, the label of Brian Eno. However, Mamonov‘s music career extended beyond Zvuki Mu with solo work and more. Mamonov found inspiration in western music. He even enjoyed Pantera, though the band isn’t a great representative of his overall taste. Unsurprisingly, Mamonov was a radio host and poet — he attracted attention for his peculiar lyrics.
Mamonov dazzled theater audiences with his unique vision as an actor and writer. However, he is better known for his miraculous film work. We remember him especially fondly for Pavel Lungin‘s Taxi Blues (1990); the religious masterpiece The Island (2006); and Tsar (2009), in which he played Ivan the Terrible.
For a good portion of his life, this rock n’ roll dude was an absolute vacuum when it came to raiding liquor closets and also enjoyed illegal substances. Ultimately, his converted to Christianity proved his salvation. Thus, he is remembered for his inspiring faith. Following his tragic death from Covid in 2021, it was suggested that the Church canonize this clear saint. Mamonov‘s widow, Olga, supported the idea.