15 Actors Whose Singing Careers You Completely Forgot

From rap mixtapes to surprise appearances on the Billboard charts, these stars dabbled in music.

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When actors decide to embark on music careers, they're not always met with open arms. If they make a worthy effort, people are surprised they can carry a tune, and if they don't, it comes off like a failed vanity project. But, some actors' singing careers just end up being eclipsed by their other efforts. Lost to the sands of time. Forever forgotten…until a list like this comes along.

The 15 actors here tried out singing to varying levels of success. Some of them were singers before they became famous Academy Award-winning actors or big screen superheroes — or, in one case, both. Some of them quietly fronted indie bands for fun while their acting careers flourished. And some of them ended up with the type of musical fame an artist may either love or hate: that of the one-hit wonder. (Prepare to have a certain Eddie Murphy hit stuck in your head for the rest of the day.)

From wannabe teen pop stars to a surprising rap career to Ryan Gosling's music about ghosts, here are 15 actors whose singing careers you completely forgot about, or maybe didn't even know about in the first place. In some cases, that might be how they prefer it. And for more random side projects, here are 13 Celebrities You Forgot Had Their Own Talk Shows.

1
Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr The Futurist album cover
Sony Classical

Robert Downey Jr., the actor behind Iron Man's mask, released an album titled The Futurist in 2004 (not long after singing a bit for his role on Ally McBeal). It's full of chill, adult contemporary songs, and Downey Jr. wrote all of them, aside from two covers. He also plays piano on the album. But, while he was genuinely into music, this was his first and last album. For more projects you may have missed, here are 25 Stars You Didn't Know Got Their Start in Commercials.

2
Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith
Shutterstock/Featureflash Photo Agency

Did you know Jada Pinkett Smith was the lead singer of a metal band? Now you do. The actor and Red Table Talk host is the lead singer of Wicked Wisdom, which has released two albums: My Story in 2004 and Wicked Wisdom in 2006. In 2005, the band even performed at the metal music festival Ozzfest.

3
Ryan Gosling

Dead Man's Bones album cover
ANTI-Records

Ryan Gosling and his friend Zach Shields formed a band in 2007 called Dead Man's Bones, which released an eponymous album in 2009. According to their record label, Anti-, Gosling and Shields, who were both obsessed with ghosts, originally wrote songs for "a soundtrack to a play about a monster-ghost-love-story." But, when that idea didn't come to be, they released the songs as an album collaboration with the Silverlake Conservatory Children's Choir. Clearly, there's a lot going on here, but the point is, Gosling was recording tracks years before La La Land. (He also sang as a cast member on Mickey Mouse back in the day, but rarely about the spirit world.) For some more music with a hidden theme, here are 20 Songs You Didn't Know Have Secret Messages.

4
Brie Larson

Brie Larson Finally Out of PE album cover
Casablanca

Oscar winner. Superhero. Former teenage pop singer? Yep, that description fits Brie Larson, too. The Captain Marvel star released an album called Finally Out of P.E. in 2005, when she was only 16 years old. You can get a sense of her style in the video for her single "She Said," which has an Avril Lavigne vibe to it.

And Larson hasn't given up her love of music. She's been known to drop acoustic covers on her social media, including a recent take on Taylor Swift's "the 1."

5
Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks
Shutterstock/Featureflash Photo Agency

Tyra Banks was known firstly for being a model, then an actor, then a reality TV competition host. And then, much less widely so, as a singer. While she never released a full album, she did record a couple songs, the most popular of which was "Shake Ya Body." The music video for the song features contestants from America's Next Top Model Season 2. For more stars who've become famous for being themselves, here are The 30 Most Successful Reality TV Personalities of the Last 30 Years.

6
Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy
Shutterstock/Denis Makarenko

Before he became known for roles in The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Dunkirk, Tom Hardy was a rapper going by the name Tommy No 1. His 1999 mixtape, titled Falling on Your A***, was shared online, apparently, by his collaborator Edward Tracy aka Eddie Too Tall in 2018, and it took the internet by storm.

7
Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow
Shutterstock/lev radin

Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow's foray into music centers around two movies: 2000's Duets and 2010's Country Strong. Paltrow recorded songs for both movies, including a popular duet of "Cruisin'" with Huey Lewis for Duets. While she also sang for other roles in her acting career, including on Glee, an album of her own music never came to be. For more surprising star facts, sign up for our daily newsletter.

8
Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites
Cameo

Back at the beginning of Clint Eastwood's acting career, he put out an album of country and western songs called Cowboy Favorites. Clearly, he ended up making a decades-long career out of acting and directing, but his musical side didn't fade completely into the background. Eastwood has composed the scores for many of his films, including Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and J. Edgar, and he sang a song for the Gran Torino soundtrack.

9
Toni Collette

Toni Collette and the Finish album cover
Hoola Hoop Records

Australian actor Toni Collette is known for her roles in Little Miss Sunshine, United States of Tara, and Hereditary, but she's also a singer. She fronts the band Toni Collette & the Finish, in which her husband, Dave Galafassi, plays drums. The band released one album, Beautiful Awkward Pictures, in 2006. To learn what you've been singing along to all these years, here are 20 Songs You Totally Misunderstood, Explained.

10
Joey Lawrence

Joey Lawrence single cover
MCA Records

Unless you were a very big Blossom fan and have a very good memory of the year 1993, you probably completely forgot about Joey Lawrence's music career. In 1993, the teen idol released a self-titled album and actually had a hit with the song "Nothin' My Love Can't Fix." The Melissa & Joey star released a second album, Soulmates, in 1997, and released a couple of new songs, including one with his brothers Matthew and Andrew, in 2017.

11
Tatyana Ali

Tatyana Ali Kiss the Sky album cover
The Work Group

On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Ashley Banks, played by Tatyana Ali, embarks on a short-lived pop music career. And the actress ended up having her own hit in 1998, two years after the series ended. "Daydreamin'" from the album Kiss the Sky reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but the album ended up being her only one.

12
Alyssa Milano

Alyssa Milano
Shutterstock/DFree

Unlike most of the other actors on this list, Alyssa Milano has released more than one album. The thing is, her music was only successful in Japan. As a teenager in the late '80s and early '90s, the Charmed star released four albums that were hugely popular in the country but barely heard in the U.S. Today, you can find clips of her performing in Japan on YouTube.

13
Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy Party All the Time album cover
Columbia

Comedian and actor Eddie Murphy has put out quite a bit of music over the years, but nothing has ever come close to his 1985 single "Party All the Time," which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Over the course of his career, Murphy has released three music albums and put out a song as recently as 2013 — "Red Light" which features Snoop Dogg.

14
Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence Hanging Tree album cover
Republic

Jennifer Lawrence didn't attempt to have a career in music, but her role in The Hunger Games film series meant she ended up with one anyway. For The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, Lawrence had to sing "The Hanging Tree,", a song from the book. Though she was opposed to singing anything at all for the film, the song ended up hitting the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

15
Emma Roberts

Emma Roberts Unfabulous and More album cover
Sony Music Entertainment

Back in 2004, Emma Roberts debuted on the Nickelodeon series Unfabulous, and in 20o5, she released an album titled Unfabulous and More, which featured songs from the show and new tracks. Roberts went on to also record a song for her 2006 movie Aquamarine, but that marked the end of the American Horror Story star's music career.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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