It’s not rare to see an actor belt out a quality song in a movie musical, though it is rare to see a singer put in a good performance on the silver screen. It’s the invisible line that separates cinema from music despite their constant crossover. Quite simply, some singers should never step foot in front of the movie cameras.
Using the word ‘some’ lightly, there have been a handful of actors throughout the history of cinema that have put in great film performances, such as the likes of Justin Timberlake in The Social Network, Lady Gaga in A Star is Born or even Mick Jagger in Performance. In fact, there are many singers who have proved that they are multi-faceted stars. Though, just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be done.
In a bid to increase the audience potential of a certain feature film, studios have tried to shoehorn in popular musicians for decades, with many of them failing to match their musical talents. From the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears and even Ringo Starr, join us as we look back at the ten worst singer-turned-actors of all time.
The 10 worst singer-turned-actors:
10. Snoop Dogg
Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr, better known as Snoop Dogg, reached stardom back in 1992 when he featured on Dr. Dre’s debut single, ‘Deep Cover’, before he appeared on the follow-up album, The Chronic.
With multiple film roles to his name, Snoop Dogg does have a handful of decent performances, in the likes of Harmony Korine’s The Beach Bum and Ben Stiller’s Starsky and Hutch to name just two, though this simply doesn’t excuse the multitude of garbage he’s also starred in. Scary Movie 5, Bones and Racing Stripes make up just three of his forgettable roles, with the rapper showing off his signature love of weed in every role he takes on.
Rising to prominence during the early 21st century, Rhianna has since become a staple of popular culture, with songs like ‘Diamonds’, ‘Umbrella’ and ‘The Monster’ helping to consolidate her at the very top of mainstream music.
2012 marked the singers first foray in acting, appearing in the adaptation of the Hasbro board game Battleship, starring as Petty Officer Cora ‘Weps’ Raikes in the sci-fi war movie mashup. It’s an uninspired film featuring Rhianna as an unenthusiastic soldier who seemingly couldn’t care less about the imminent threat of alien invasion. Also appearing in Home, Ocean’s Eight and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Rhianna has consistently failed to light up the cinema screen.
8. Britney Spears
Having recently re-entered the public sphere due to the ‘Free Britney’ movement, Britney Spears was the pop star of the late 1990s and early noughties, thanks to her hit song ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ released in 1998.
Appearing only in a small handful of films since she shot to fame, the most considerable of her screen efforts was the critically panned Crossroads, where she starred alongside Zoe Saldana and Dan Aykroyd. The film itself followed three childhood friends who take a road trip across America to find themselves, though the film is just a typical Hollywood affair with little to say about the state of the world or its central characters. Spears stands out as the very worst of her co-stars, featuring as an irritating young girl who lacks the acting skills of the surrounding cast.
7. Pete Doherty
A bizarre name to see on this list, you would have thought the cynical musician would be taking his talents to the screen, having risen to popularity through the early 21st century with his band The Libertines.
His adventures in cinema only took the actor so far as a small collection of films, with the worst one maybe being the one with the highest budget, Confession of a Child of the Century. Featuring alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lily Cole, Doherty plays Octave, a man in 19th century Paris who forays into despair and debauchery in a role that is way over the capabilities of Pete Doherty who flaps at the naff material for two hours.
6. Kelly Clarkson
Winning American Idol in 2002, Kelly Clarkson found fame from humble beginnings before going on to release the albums Breakway in 2004 and Piece by Piece in 2015 and enjoying consistent success.
To capitalise on her flourishing success following American Idol, Kelly Clarkson appeared in the awful From Justin to Kelly in 2003, a comedy musical that follows two young lovers on spring break. With several cringeworthy musical numbers that were poorly choreographed, Kelly Clarkson flops in From Justin to Kelly and even manages to convince viewers that not only is she a bad actor, but she may be a bad singer too.
5. Jessica Simpson
With the release of ‘Sweet Kisses’ in 1999, Jessica Simpson shot to international success, later releasing Irresistible in 2001 as well as In This Skin in 2003 before splitting her interests between film and music.
Her debut appearance came in 2005 in The Dukes of Hazzard, starring alongside Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville and Burt Reynolds where she gave a bizarrely flat performance. The poor Employee of the Month and The Love Guru followed, with Jessica Simpson continuing to deliver consistently wooden performances in films that persistently critically and commercially flopped.
4. Ringo Starr
The Beatles are likely the most influential band of all time, having released several films throughout their history including Yellow Submarine, A Hard Day’s Night and many more. Though each of these films starring John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were merely celebrations of the band themselves.
Ringo Starr decided that he wanted to return to acting for some reason, appearing in some truly bizarre films, including the likes of the spaghetti western Blindman, drama That’ll Be the Day and the horror musical Son of Dracula. It’s unknown why Ringo Starr kept appearing in such sub-par films despite his performances being so consistently bad, though at least it doesn’t detract from his brilliance in the likes of A Hard Day’s Night.
3. 50 Cent
Rapper Curtis James Jackson III, also known as 50 Cent, has never been a good actor, no matter how many times he might convince you otherwise. Inspired by Biggie Smalls, the rapper rose to prominence in the late 1990s.
Starring in a strange mix of films alongside a bizarre list of actors, 50 Cent appeared in Freelancers in 2012 with Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker, as well as Den of Thieves with Gerard Butler and O’Shea Jackson Jr. His biggest film was no doubt Get Rich or Die Tryin’, a film that featured the actor front and centre as a drug dealer who turns in his life of crime to pursue rap music. Hinging on 50 Cent’s staggeringly bad lead performance, the film simply falls apart.
2. Adam Levine
The lead singer of the band Maroon 5 enjoyed success through the noughties with such tracks as ‘Girls Like You’, ‘Moves Like Jagger’, ‘Sugar’ and many more, before he, unfortunately, albeit briefly, turned his attention to acting.
Though Begin Again released in 2013 was largely considered a moderate success, Adam Levine’s appearance as the highly irritating Dave stands out as by far the film’s worst aspect. Playing a character that is far too close to the reality of Adam Levine himself, Dave is an arrogant musician with little care for his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, Gretta (Keira Knightley) with the two constantly arguing between themselves.
Pierce Brosnan’s strange outing as James Bond in 2002s Die Another Day is already a bizarre film, featuring invisible cars, glacier-surfing and the appearance of Madonna in an awful cameo role.
Along with the tragically poor theme song that Madonna also writes for the film, the singer also appears as Verity, donning a black leather corset for her role as a fencing instructor. “I see you handle your weapon well,” the singer says to Brosnan’s Bond before he returns a lewd comment, “I have been known to keep my tip up”. It’s a strange, cringey interaction that sees Bond go on to tighten Madonna’s corset whilst she describes a peculiar case of steroid abuse at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Not only does she appear in Die Another Day, but she also gives dismal performances to the likes of A League of Their Own and The Next Best Thing to name just two.