Adam Levine – Begin Again
Tellingly, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine took an acting class before starring in his first movie, but “didn’t like it.” And guess what? It shows. The musician starred in 2013 musical comedy-drama Begin Again with full-time actors Kiera Knightly and Mark Ruffalo.
Plus, this was Kiera’s first-ever singing role in a movie. Adam Levine basically played himself in this movie. Despite this, one reviewer described him as “a cardboard cutout of himself struggling to make even blinking and turning his head look natural.”
Kelly Clarkson – From Justin to Kelly
Sometimes, when a celebrity is doing really well in one area, they get pushed into another one. That’s what happened with American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson when she appeared in her first movie. Fox Studios cast the singer in 2003’s musical rom-com From Justin to Kelly, and it was a huge flop.
Speaking about the role, Kelly Clarkson has said, “I just don’t find it very cool that somebody makes you do something that is not your passion and you don’t want to do.”
Flea – Back to the Future Part II
The world knows Michael Balzary best as Flea, the bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers. However, he has also appeared in a bunch of movies and TV shows. The musician usually plays a version of himself rather than flexing any serious acting skills.
For example, the Australian-born American star starred as Douglas J. Needles in Back to the Future Part II and Part III. He was Marty McFly’s high school rival, which is amusing because he was pushing 30 at the time.
Jennifer Lopez – Gigli
Look, we hate to say that Jennifer Lopez shouldn’t have tried acting. We totally mean it when we say that we adored her performance in 2019 crime drama Hustlers. And we didn’t totally hate The Wedding Planner either.
And let’s not forget that J.Lo is the highest-paid Latina actress in Hollywood. However, it would be remiss of us to not mention Gigli. It’s one of the most famous flops ever, and happens to feature Bennifer in their early days.
Mariah Carey – Glitter
Likewise, the iconic Mariah Carey has somewhat redeemed herself in the acting world. However, her first attempts did not go so well. Mimi plays aspiring singer Billie Frank in 2001 musical rom-com Glitter, and was nominated for the Worst Actress Razzie.
One critic described her as having “the acting range of a parakeet.” But, she proved them wrong! For her stripped-back role in 2009’s Precious, Mariah was nominated for a host of awards. She then starred in Empire in 2016.
Weird Al Yankovic – UHF
Next up is another strange vehicle for a singer. Comedy UHF was released in 1989 and featured an eclectic cast, including Weird Al Yankovic, Fran Drescher, and Michael Richards. Weird Al wrote the screenplay with his manager, who also directed the flick.
This movie did not do well, which ultimately left Weird Al in a bit of a slump. He stayed quiet for around three years after, before releasing “Smells Like Nirvana” in 1992. However, UHF has since developed a cult following.
Usher – In the Mix
As we’ve seen with Mariah Carey and J.Lo, there are some singers on this list who have starred in both terrible and successful movies. That’s what we have here with Usher’s turn in 2005 romcom In the Mix. You can tell by the name of this movie that it isn’t good. Just saying.
On Rotten Tomatoes, In the Mix has an impressively low score of 13%. The movie was described as “tone deaf and inconsequential.” Usher was also bashed for his performance as Billy Flynn on Broadway.
Madonna – Body of Evidence
Here’s someone else that’s split opinion when it comes to their acting skills. It’s basically accepted that iconic singer Madonna was a hit in Evita and A League of Their Own, but not in every acting role.
For example, she was criticized for her performances in Shanghai Surprise, and Body of Evidence. Indeed, Madge has the most Razzie awards ever for an actress. Body of Evidence is a 1993 thriller also starring Willem Dafoe and Julianne Moore. Its Rotten Tomatoes rating is 8%.
Beyoncé – Austin Powers
This pains us! We don’t want to criticize the exceptional Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. However, we can’t deny that her acting skills are a little wooden at times. Bey had her first lead acting role in 2001’s musical romance drama Carmen: A Hip Hopera. From there, she played Foxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers in Goldmember.
As with some of the others on this list, Beyoncé didn’t do much in this role. However, she later landed a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her role in Dreamgirls.
Ed Sheeran – Yesterday
Strangely, even when singers actually play themselves in movies, they seem weird. Clearly acting is more than just walking onto a set and saying some lines. For evidence, just look at Ed Sheeran playing himself in Danny Boyle’s romcom Yesterday. The singer is robotic and detached, despite literally playing Ed Sheeran.
On another occasion, Ed received quite a bit of flack for his acting. His cameo in fantasy series Game of Thrones was jarring for many. He played Lannister soldier Eddie (sigh) and even sang his “new song.”
50 Cent – Get Rich or Die Tryin’
When Eminem made his film debut in 2002 drama 8 Mile, many other rappers tried to repeat his success. The hip-hop movie was a huge triumph and landed an Oscar for Best Original Song. However, 50 Cent’s attempt at presenting his life story on the big screen didn’t go so well.
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was released in 2005 to dismal reviews. Director Jim Sheridan has said of the movie, “My empathy tripped me up. I got it, so I assumed the audience would. They didn’t.”
Kris Kristofferson – Heaven’s Gate
Up next is a film that was described as one of the worst movies ever made. 1980 Western epic Heaven’s Gate starred singer Kris Kristofferson alongside Christopher Walken and Jeff Bridges. There were numerous issues with this flick, including retakes, issues with the director, and allegations of animal abuse.
For his work on the film, Kris Kristofferson was nominated for Worst Actor at the Razzies. That same year, he was nominated for the same award for his part in political thriller Rollover.
Status Quo – Bula Quo
Our next entry brings us to a different category on this list – musicians that star in movies that are vehicles for themselves. Here, we have British rock group Status Quo starring as themselves in an adventure comedy where they get caught up with the mafia in Fiji. Yes, you read that correctly.
Critic Mark Kermode said of the film, “I cannot explain its existence, I don’t know. Tax loop? Did somebody win a bet? […] I was struggling not only to stay awake but to stay alive.”
Rihanna – Battleship
She’s a queen when it comes to music, makeup, and selling fabulous undergarments. But is Rihanna an actress? The Barbadian superstar starred as Officer Cora Raikes, weapons specialist, in 2012’s military sci-fi movie Battleship. Like some of the other singers on our list, she won the Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress in this role.
The movie bombed, and was nominated for six Razzies in total. However, also like some others on this list, RiRi didn’t stop acting, later appearing in all-female heist movie Ocean’s 8.
George Harrison – Shanghai Surprise
Surprise! It’s another Madonna flick. But she’s not the only musical maestro to star in this awful movie. Former Beatle George Harrison plays himself as a nightclub singer in this 1986 adventure comedy. Plus, his production company made the film, and he wrote some of its music.
Indeed, one of his songs was nominated for the Worst Original Song Razzie. Overall, Shanghai Surprise is considered one of the worst movies ever made. One critic remarked, “It’s hard to know for whom this wretch of a film was made.”
Garth Brooks – Behind the Music
OK, prepare yourselves for some seriously kooky music movie trivia. Back in 1999, country star Garth Brooks created a fictional rock persona known as Chris Gaines. Originally this was for a movie named The Lamb, but it was actually never made. During this time, Garth released an album as Gaines, and two of the songs became charting singles.
However, Garth also appeared as his fictional alter-ego on SNL. He hosted as himself, but then performed as Gaines. Plus, he made a whole Behind the Music episode in character!
Snoop Dogg – Mac & Devin Go to High School
Rapper Snoop Dogg is a great example of how the quantity of roles doesn’t relate to quality. The star has appeared in a range of TV shows and movies, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good actor. For example, just take a look at 2012 direct to DVD movie Mac & Devin Go to High School.
One critic described the flick as “a joke.” Snoop has also had cameos in Training Day and Starsky and Hutch. Perhaps he should stick to what he’s best at.
Christina Aguilera – Burlesque
We’ll admit that we’ve watched 2010 musical Burlesque more than once. Who’d give up on the opportunity to watch Cher and Christina Aguilera belt out tunes together? However, we concede that Xtina isn’t exactly the world’s best actress. In the movie, she plays a small-town girl with a big voice, looking for stardom in LA.
It’s basically Coyote Ugly with feathers. One critic remarked, “Not one word out of Aguilera’s mouth sounded genuine. Her one-liners were pathetic, her emotion ridiculous.”
Anthony Kiedis – Point Break
We’ve already seen one member of rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers attempt acting, and here’s another one. The band’s frontman, Anthony Kiedis, has also appeared on the big screen. The musician starred in 1991 action crime flick Point Break, which featured Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. While the movie was well-received, Kiedis was mediocre.
Both Anthony Kiedis and Flea then acted together in 1994 action comedy movie The Chase, starring Charlie Sheen. Since then, he’s stayed away from acting.
Jessica Simpson – The Dukes of Hazzard
While singer Jessica Simpson was a success on reality TV, she didn’t reach the same heights on the big screen. After Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica wrapped, the star was cast in 2005 action comedy The Dukes of Hazzard. The movie has a 14% Rotten Tomatoes score, and was nominated for seven Razzies.
This included Worst Supporting Actress for Jessica Simpson. The singer continued to act in several more noughties flicks, but they all received poor reviews. Sorry, Jessica — acting isn’t for you!
Carrie Underwood – Soul Surfer
Hilariously, when country star Carrie Underwood appeared in Soul Surfer, she really seemed to believe it would be a good movie. She said of the 2011 biopic, “It wasn’t some silly nothing movie that in 10 years nobody is going to care [about]. Hopefully, people watch this and really take something away from it.” Oh, dear.
One critic compared Carrie’s acting attempt to Christina Aguilera’s in Burlesque. They said she “doesn’t act, she performs. She never has any exchanges with her co-stars that feel genuine.”
Gene Simmons – Runaway
Did you know that Kiss star Gene Simmons once played an evil scientist alongside Tom Selleck? Nope, us neither. The Israeli-American rock star appeared in 1984 sci-fi action movie Runaway, but it was a box office flop.
Apparently, Gene Simmons had been offered other roles but “wanted to start out in something serious.” Interesting choice Gene. Evidently, Gene Simmons has studied acting, unlike some of the other singers on our list. However, he was apparently badly behaved on set.
Pete Doherty – Confession of a Child of the Century
It’s pretty telling when a musician appears in a movie that then disappears into the abyss. Seriously, who’s heard of this 2012 historical drama? Confession of a Child of the Century starred English musician Pete Doherty alongside British-French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.
The former frontman of The Libertines admitted that he took the role because he was obsessed with the film’s leading lady. It’s pretty clear that he didn’t do it because of his acting skills. The movie was a huge flop.
Michael Jackson – Moonwalker
Next is another musical film that’s basically a vehicle for its famous musician lead. Prince of Pop Michael Jackson starred as himself in Moonwalker, a 1988 anthology musical that features a bunch of short films and long-form music videos. If this sounds confusing to you, then you’re in company.
One critic said this movie “seems unsure of what it was supposed to be.” Others agreed, saying this was more of a haphazard collection of long music videos than a movie with plot or characters.
Bob Dylan – Hearts of Fire
Similarly, Bob Dylan basically plays himself in 1987 musical drama Hearts of Fire. Amusingly, even though the movie is essentially a vehicle for the celebrated singer-songwriter, he barely appears in it. One critic said that the star “hovers enigmatically on the sidelines.”
This movie was received so poorly that it was pulled from European cinemas after just two weeks. Hilariously, it was shown in limited US theatres for just one week. Actual actors Penelope Cruz and John Goodman took pay cuts so they could star in this flick.
Neil Diamond – The Jazz Singer
When successful musicians appear in movies, it can cause problems for the overall production. For example, director of 1980 musical drama The Jazz Singer was intimidated by Neil Diamond.
Diamond’s co-star Lucie Arnaz said, “if he didn’t understand how to do a scene, he would say stuff like, ‘This isn’t any good. I can’t do this.’ So then the 19th writer they brought on would run back and try to rewrite the script for him, and he still couldn’t do it, because he didn’t know how to do it.”
Jason Derulo – Cats
Where do we even begin with Cats? Tom Hopper’s 2019 musical fantasy based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical had a star-studded cast. However, no amount of actual acting could have saved this bizarre movie. It is considered one of the worst films of all time.
In Cats, American singer Jason Derulo plays rebellious feline Rum Tum Tugger. Hilariously, Derulo had wanted to act for a while but was waiting “to find a legacy role.” You did it, Jason!
Roy Orbison – The Fastest Guitar Alive
Have you ever wondered what a Western would be like where a guitar is used instead of a gun? No, us either. But look no further than The Fastest Guitar Alive, starring singer Roy Orbison.
While he’s best known for his iconic tunes, Roy did flex his acting skills (or lack of) in this musical comedy Western. Even Roy Orbison’s biographer described his performance in this movie as having “zero conviction.” Plus, this movie is packed full of racism, stereotypes, and poor prop gags.
Luciano Pavarotti – Yes Giorgio
Here’s another strange movie outing for a super famous musician who should probably have stuck to their day job. In the 1980s, director Peter Fetterman wanted to make Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti a movie star.
At first, he suggested the singer play fellow opera star Enrico Caruso in a biopic, but Pavarotti felt pressurized playing one of his heroes. Instead, he starred in 1982 musical comedy Yes, Giorgio. Apparently, the singer isn’t too bad in his native language, but is shocking in the movie’s English scenes.
Vanilla Ice – Cool as Ice
It’s strange to imagine a world where rapper Vanilla Ice was actually considered cool. He’s been a punchline for so long that it’s easy to think that he’s always been one. However, Robert Matthew Van Winkle was actually super famous in the early 90s.
Vanilla Ice starred in 1991 musical romcom Cool as Ice, playing a rapper who falls for a small-town honor student. Gross. Surprise, surprise, this movie was a huge box office bomb. The rapper won the Worst Actor Razzie at the 1992 ceremony.
Ashanti – The Muppets Wizard of Oz
Jim Henson’s Muppets have appeared in a host of movies with lots of big names. In 2005, they starred alongside singer Ashanti in their version of classic novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This musical fantasy film also featured Queen Latifah and Quentin Tarantino.
However, critics slammed the movie for its mature content, pop-culture references, and celebrity cameos. One commented that “although Ashanti can sing, she cannot act.” The American singer has appeared in other movies, including John Tucker Must Die.
Mick Jagger – Ned Kelly
And now for another rock star doing a terrible job in a movie. Rolling Stones legend Mick Jagger donned a rather dodgy beard for his role in the British-Australian biopic Ned Kelly. The star was so embarrassed by his poor acting that he didn’t even show up to the movie’s premiere.
Hilariously, the movie’s director didn’t either. Thankfully, Mick Jagger didn’t try acting again for decades. Inexplicably, Mick Jagger’s Ned Kelly has an Irish accent, despite being an Australian bushranger.
Taylor Swift – Valentine’s Day
Look, we’re Swifties, we promise! But it is true that Taylor Swift essentially plays herself in her small amount of movie roles. She sang a country song in Hannah Montana: The Movie, and joined the doomed cast of Cats.
But, in between those, she played Taylor Lautner’s love interest in 2010 rom-com Valentine’s Day. This movie faced a ton of criticism, with one critic calling it a “greeting card full of vomit.” Despite that, Taylor still won the Teen Choice award for Movie Breakout.
George Strait – Pure Country
Country star George Strait is known as the King of Country, and for good reason. He’s one of the most influential musicians of all time, and has a host of awards under his belt. However, none of those are for acting.
The singer-songwriter played the lead role in 1992 drama Pure Country. Whilst the music George Strait wrote for this film became his best-selling album ever, his acting left much to be desired. Like many on this list, his acting was wooden.
Britney Spears – Crossroads
We’ve hated criticizing Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Taylor Swift — yet here we are criticizing another pop icon. As much as we simply adore Britney Jean Spears, we can’t pretend Crossroads was well acted. Sure, it was exciting when the teen drama was released in 2002, but in retrospect, it’s a bit of a mess.
Shonda Rhimes wrote this MTV Films movie, but even that couldn’t save it. One critic described Brit as “a staggering example of how stage charisma does not automatically translate into acting skill.”
David Bowie – Labyrinth
Lots of David Bowie fans love the star’s turn in musical fantasy film Labyrinth. The movie was directed by Muppets master Jim Henson, and had George Lucas as an executive producer. In the 1986 flick, the English icon plays Jareth, The Goblin King. And yes, it really is as strange as it sounds.
Though this movie is a cult favorite now, it didn’t get a great reception at the time. One critic said, “Bowie forgoes acting, preferring to prance around his lair while staring solemnly into the camera.”
Paul McCartney – A Hard Day’s Night
Back in the 60s when the Beatles were at the height of their fame, someone thought it would be a good idea to put the English group in a movie. To be fair, they were right, as the musical comedy was nominated for two Academy Awards.
The film basically follows the mop-topped group as they get ready for a TV performance. Despite the success of A Hard Day’s Night, several critics have pointed out that Paul McCartney is rather dull.
Prince – Purple Rain
Everyone knows Prince’s iconic song “Purple Rain” but does everyone know the movie of the same name? We thought not. The celebrated musician scored the 1984 rock musical drama and starred in it along with his band. Much like the Beatles movie, this one actually did very well.
It was also nominated for an Oscar, and is considered culturally and historically important. But, that doesn’t mean that Prince can act. Anyone who’s seen the star’s cameo in New Girl can attest to that.
T.I. – Takers
Pioneering hip-hop artist T.I. has won three Grammys throughout his musical career. He has also appeared in a range of movies and TV shows. In 2010 the rapper starred in action thriller Takers alongside Paul Walker, Idris Elba, and fellow rapper Chris Brown.
The movie has a disappointing score of 28% on Rotten Tomatoes and critics complained of “two-dimensional characters” and a “cliched script.” It seems that T.I.’s well crafted rap personas don’t shine through in this bank heist flick.
Tom Petty – The Postman
Could we interest you in a three-hour apocalyptic action movie directed by Kevin Costner about the US postal service? No, we didn’t think so. The Postman was released in 1997 and featured Costner in the lead role, with singer Tom Petty playing the mayor.
While Tom Petty is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, this movie proves that he’s no actor. Admittedly, Petty’s role in this movie is small, but he still manages to mess it up.
Keith Richards – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Many people know that actor Johnny Depp based his iconic Jack Sparrow character on Rolling Stones star Keith Richards. This includes the swaggering pirate’s accent, clothing, and body language. So, it makes sense that the legendary guitarist would make an appearance as Jack’s father in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Richards cameos at the end of the third movie, which really would have been enough. When he returns for a larger role in the fourth installment, it’s clear he’s not made for the big screen.
Ringo Starr – Caveman
So far we’ve checked in with George and Paul, so now it’s Ringo’s turn. The former Beatle appeared in 1981 slapstick comedy Caveman along with Dennis Quaid and Shelley Long. We don’t know who had the bright idea of turning the world’s most famous drummer into a scrawny caveman, but it was a bad one.
Thankfully, Ringo realized his mistake. He said, “my recording career went downhill. I was too busy doing other stuff. And I realized that there are enough actors; I’m a musician.”
Roger Daltrey – Highlander
While lots of singers on this list tried their hands at being movie stars, our next entry was content with the small screen. The Who frontman Roger Daltrey appeared to have a great time playing immortal ladies man Hugh Fitzcairn on Highlander: The Series.
This science fantasy series was a hit with audiences and critics alike, but it’s clear that Roger is a rockstar, not an actor. While he’s not the worst on our list, he still doesn’t seem totally comfortable in front of a camera.
Common – Terminator Salvation
Terminator Salvation was released in 2009 and was the fourth installment of the military sci-fi series. The film is poorly reviewed, with one critic summarising the plot as “Guy dies, finds himself resurrected, meets others, fights. That lasts for almost two hours.”
According to one particularly harsh critic, Common’s turn in Terminator Salvation is “the absolute worst performance by a rap artist in a motion picture.” The hip hop artist has turned his hand to acting several times, with varying results.
Nelly Furtado – Max Payne
We weren’t aware that Canadian singer Nelly Furtado had tried acting, and that’s probably a good thing. The star appeared in the neo-noir action movie Max Payne in 2008 as the wife of an NYPD detective. The video game adaptation was negatively reviewed by both critics and fans.
Nelly Furtado has also acted in several other questionable-looking movies. She starred in 2010’s Canadian musical Score: A Hockey Musical, as well as 2015’s Canadian rom-com A Date With Miss Fortune.