Top 25 Musicians Turned Actors

For this week's Ranked!, we decided to rank our favorite musicians that delved into acting later in their careers. Here is our Top 25:

25. Courtney Love

Songs of note: "Miss World," "Doll Parts," "Violet"

Movies of note: Feeling Minnesota, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Man On The Moon

24. Henry Rollins

Songs of note: "TV Party," "Low Self Opinion," "Liar"

Movies of note: Heat, Lost Highway, The New Guy

23. Justin Timberlake

Songs of note: "Bye Bye Bye," "Cry Me A River," "SexyBack"

Movies of note: Alpha Dog, Yogi Bear, The Social Network

22. Ice-T

Songs of note: "Colors," "New Jack Hustler," "Cop Killer"

Movies of note: Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, New Jack City, Tank Girl

21. Kris Kristofferson

Songs of note: "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," "Why Me," "Highwayman"

Movies of note: Blade, Big Top Pee-Wee, Convoy

20. Madonna

Songs of note: See our list of her Top 18 videos

Movies of note: Desperately Seeking Susan, Who's That Girl, Evita

19. Barbra Streisand

Songs of note: "People," "The Way We Were," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers"

Movies of note: Funny Girl , The Way We Were, Yentl

18. Olivia Newton-John

Songs of note: "Let Me Be There," "Hopelessly Devoted to You"," "Physical"

Movies of note: Grease, Xanadu, Two Of A Kind

17. Prince

Songs of note: See our list of his Top 40 songs

Movies of note: Purple Rain, Under the Cherry Moon, Graffiti Bridge

16. Tom Waits

Songs of note: "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis," "Downtown Train," "Big Rock Candy Mountain"

Movies of note: Mystery Men, Short Cuts, Bram Stoker's Dracula

15. Jennifer Hudson

Songs of note: "Spotlight," "I'm His Only Woman"

Movies of note: Dreamgirls, Sex And The City, The Secret Life Of Bees

14. Harry Connick Jr.

Songs of note: "It Had to Be You," "Promise Me You'll Remember," "A Wink And A Smile"

Movies of note: Copycat, Excess Baggage, Hope Floats

13. Ice Cube

Songs of note: "Fuck Tha Police," "Straight Outta Compton," "It Was A Good Day"

Movies of note: Boyz N The Hood, Friday, Anaconda

12. Sting

Songs of note: See our Top 20 Police songs

Movies of note: Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, The Bride, Dune

11. Bette Midler

Songs of note: "The Rose," "Wind Beneath My Wings," "From A Distance"

Movies of note: The Rose, Ruthless People, Beaches

10. David Bowie

Songs of note: "Young Americans," "Fame," "Let's Dance"

Movies of note: Labyrinth, Absolute Beginners, The Last Temptation Of Christ

9. Mos Def

Songs of note: "Sex, Love, And Money," "Undeniable," "Definition"

Movies of note: Monster's Ball, Bamboozled, The Italian Job

8. Meat Loaf

Songs of note: "Paradise By The Dashboard Light," "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad," "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"

Movies of note: Fight Club, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Black Dog

7. Queen Latifah

Songs of note: "U.N.I.T.Y.," "Paper," "Just Another Day..."

Movies of note: Set It Off, Chicago, The Bone Collector

6. Dolly Parton

Songs of note: "Jolene," "9 To 5," "Here You Come Again"

Movies of note: 9 To 5, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, Steel Magnolias

5. LL Cool J

Let's get some things out of the way first. LL Cool J playing a rapper, like he did in Krush Groove, did not get him on this list. Playing a current or former football player, as he did in Any Given Sunday and In The House, also does not count. And anybody on any version of Law And Order, CSI, NCIS, or NTSF:SD:SUV is not allowed to use that as evidence of acting talent; we all know that's for the paychecks, not the prestige. So why would LL Cool J be here?

For me, it boils down to two roles. One involves giant super-intelligent sharks that eat people. The other involves Frog Dogs.

LL Cool J is about a naturally charming a guy as you're going to find. You'd think making him a chef, calling him "Preacher," putting him on an ocean-based research facility (with a parrot, no less), and having him battle man-eating sharks with Thomas Jane would crush him. But he turned that utterly ridiculous role in an utterly (and awesomely) ridiculous movie into something more than the sum of its parts (which admittedly, on paper, shouldn't be that hard). While everyone else in Deep Blue Sea was either flailing around or being digested, he held the emotional center (such as it was) of the film in his hands, and he did so marvelously.

As for Frog Dogs? Go rent The Hard Way. Remember that? With Michael J. Fox and James Woods? You'll see what I mean. --CroutonBoy

4. Frank Sinatra

I came by my love of Frank Sinatra by birth. My maternal grandfather was one of Frank's biggest fans and I can still hear my grandfather calling him "Old Blue Eyes" with admiration in his voice. The man was handsome, the kind of handsome that is timeless and he had a voice like chocolate. If you can't enjoy a Sinatra tune, you're missing something. He's the man that people like Harry Connick, Jr. and Michael Buble can credit for paving the way for their success. And like Sinatra, Harry Connick, Jr. parlayed his musical success into cinematic success.

Frank often played the role of the playboy, unwilling to settle down with just one woman when all the women wanted him. There is something to be said for women secretly (or not so secretly) wanting to tame the bad boy. And in most of those movies, Frank is tamed. I admit, I put myself in the tamer's shoes many a time. Those old movies were downright romantic, with subtle tension that always pulled at my heart more strongly than the explicit scenes in movies today. With a man as handsome as Frank Sinatra as a leading man, who remained just as handsome until the day he died, it's hard to not enjoy looking and listening. --Heather

3. Cher

It’s hard to remember a time when Cher wasn’t, you know, CHER. Diva extraordinaire. Gay icon. No last name necessary, bitches. For a lot of us she was already performing with her then husband Sonny Bono in the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour when we were born so our collective consciousness always had Cher in it.

Cher was comedic gold in the variety show genre, but did we expect her to become a movie actress? No we did not. Did we scoff at the idea of Cher doing serious dramatic roles? Yeah, we kind of did. Did she prove us wrong? Bow the eff down, peasants. Cher is an Actor with a capital A and she’s got an Oscar, an Emmy, and three Golden Globes (and assorted Grammy’s and such) to prove it.

To say she made a successful leap from music to movies is an understatement and while she is, in fact, a Diva, Cher brings a subtlety to her roles that’s practically unheard of from a woman of her star caliber. Cher didn’t jump into roles featuring herself in the lead (ahem, Madonna), she knew she had to bring credibility to her roles in order to be seen as a serious actress and not just as a pop star who dabbled in movies. She took roles in ensemble casts (“Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”, “The Witches of Eastwick”), smaller, supporting actress roles (“Silkwood”) and sometimes less-than-sympathetic characters (“Mask”, “Mermaids”). Like the ones mentioned and even in star making roles like Moonstruck, Cher seems happy to share the spotlight with her charismatic co-stars such as Nicholas Cage (back when he was charismatic and less, you know, Nic Cage-y.) and Winona Ryder. Why act like a queen when everyone knows you are anyway? But make no mistake, in movies and beyond Cher is the star.
We’re just lucky to be in her orbit. --Tania

2. Will Smith

There's a running joke on 30 Rock about Tracy Morgan being an EGOT winner. That is Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. You know who's really EGOT? Will Smith. Okay, not totally, but the man is really quite close.

Will Smith started off as a baby rapper as the Fresh Prince along with his childhood pal DJ Jazzy Jeff and the duo had had some big, big hits in the late '80s. They actually won the first ever Grammy in the Rap category for "Parents Just Don't Understand.". Then Will made the jump to television as the star of the NBC show The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. The show was successful and Will was nominated for two Best Actor Golden Globes.

Having conquered television, Will decided he wanted to move to film. His first big film was Bad Boys, but his really big breakout role was Captain Steve Hiller in Independence Day. Since then, Will's been known as the king of July 4 weekend with some huge monster hits. (Fun fact: Will turned down the role of Neo in the Matrix films.) Will has more recently turned to producing: he got The Karate Kid made for his son, Jaden AND nabbed Justin Bieber for the new original theme song. That's power, friends. More recently, Will and his wife Jada teamed up with Jay-Z to produce the very successful, multiple Tony-nominated Broadway musical Fela!

Fresh Prince no more, Will is truly a modern Renaissance man and the king of the summer blockbuster. And future EGOT. And father of our future overlords. So in my mind, he's the #1 musician turned actor. And his music doesn't make me wince. --Archphoenix

1. Mark Wahlberg

If we played Six Degrees of Mark Wahlberg, it probably would take only one step to connect me to him - granted, that would be with a little research into former high school classmates from Dorchester, but one step would not be out of the question. Certainly, no more than two. Yes, that also gets me to NKOTB. "Step By Step." Sorry.

Anyway, I've always had a soft spot for Mark (and brother, Donnie) for some reason. And it wasn't because of their musical stylings. It's definitely in spite of that. But when Mark appeared early on in his career in Renaissance Man, followed by Basketball Diaries, and, ultimately, as the douchebag stalker boyfriend in Fear, I was impressed that he actually had some chops. I mean, it wasn't like he was the next Sir Laurence Olivier or Sir Alec Guinness, but he's no Ben Affleck either. That being said, other than a few missteps like Planet Of The Apes (I'm actually willing to forgive this one - who wouldn't want to step into the shoes of Charlton Heston?) and Max Payne , Wahlberg has had a fairly successful career as an actor in some diverse roles: fisherman, thief, rock star, cop, football player, porn star, father. And he has the good sense to sign on to some good projects - I don't anticipate a Gigli in his future. My favorite roles, though, are the ones that are close to home - Perfect Storm (I have a cousin who's a commercial fisherman), The Departed (Matt Damon's role is based on someone I've actually met and is now doing long, hard time) and Three Kings. Add in some solid producer tags - Entourage, Boardwalk Empire - and the former Marky Mark is doing pretty well on the Left Coast.

All in all, it's good to see a Dot Rat come out on top. --Mr. Big Dubya


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