The music superstars who swapped the studio for the silver screen

Ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Well, panic not it happens to the best of us even some of the biggest music icons in the world. Not intent on just conquering the charts, many pop stars have ventured to the silver screen in pursuit of an illustrious acting career. With varying degrees of success, here’s the lowdown of the biggest names in music to try their hand at acting – from the Oscar-worthy, to the panto-worthy! 

Will Smith

Quite possibly the best example of a musician turned successful actor and all-round household name. Most don’t know he could have pursued a career in engineering, but nope, young Will wanted to be a rapper (good on him for following his dreams!).

He began his music career as part of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy & the Fresh Prince during the late 80s, focusing mainly on radio-friendly singles. Quickly rising to fame, the young Will Smith then set his eyes on acting, becoming the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Since then, he’s never looked back!

Justin Timberlake

Although his first few roles in film were in uninspiring rom-coms, JT made a critical breakthrough in The Social Network as creator of Napster, Sean Parker. Proving he's just limited to light-hearted movies, Timberlake has also taken on darker roles with films such as crime drama Alpha Dog.

Even though he’s a decent actor, his music is on the other hand is something else! That’s why we’re all praying for a full-blown musical comeback from the legend.

Ian Brown

Blink and you’ll miss this one. The iconic Stone Roses frontman and Madchester hero Ian Brown made an oh-so brief foray into the wizarding world with a cameo in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

So how did it come about? Simple: he’s mates with the director! On his 5-second role, which you can watch above, Brown said: “Yeah, I was a movie star for a day. I had my own trailer, was taken around in a golf cart - I loved it!”

Barbra Streisand

Using the term ‘superstar’ to label Barbra Streisand would be a gross understatement. After launching a successful recording career in the 1960s, the multi-talented Streisand had already ventured into film by 1968 with her debut role in the critical smash Funny Girl. In this, her first ever film part, she won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress! 

The New Yorker went one better with the release of Yentl in 1983, becoming the first woman to write, produce, direct, and star in a major studio film. She's also the first (and to date only) female to receive the Golden Globe Award for Best Director. No biggie. 

Younger audiences who may not be aware of her huge impact in film will probably remember Streisand for her more recent side-splitting turn in Meet the Fockers.

Ice Cube

Despite seeming quite a serious person during his days as an NWA rap icon, O'Shea Jackson Sr has revealed a truly funny side, starring in a host of blockbuster comedies.

His role as police Captain Dickson in the 21 Jump Street series was hilarious, showing he can be someone who is both fun-loving but also shouldn’t be trifled with! He's even made a big impact behind the screen - with a surprisingly long-list of production roles, including NWA biographic Straight Outta Compton.

Jordan Stephens - Rizzle Kicks

Making geeks across the globe brim with jealousy, 24-year-old Jordan Stephens fulfilled many a childhood dream after bagging a small role in the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One. Lending his hand to the Rebel Alliance in the galactic epic, the Rizzle Kicks star initially couldn’t believe his luck after a casting director reached out to him.

He even kept the role a secret from his closest friends and family! “I didn't tell anyone about the role because a part of me still felt like someone had made a mistake and I might get cut out last minute!”

Jennifer Lopez

With the simultaneous release of her second studio album J.Lo and her film The Wedding Planner in 2001, Lopez became the first woman to have a number one album and film in the same week.

Despite this, her film career has been quite forgettable in recent years, with her last role being a voice part for Ice Age

David Bowie

The late, great Bowie wasn’t just a revolutionary in the field of music, he was also a very talented actor. Keen to express himself on the silver screen, he landed his first starring role in the cult movie The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Our favourite role, however, has got to be his portrayal of Jareth the Goblin King in the 1986 fantasy epic Labyrinth. Encapsulating everything we love about Bowie, the enigmatic antagonist spends the film decked out in illustrious attire that even Ziggy Stardust would be jealous of. 

Too young for this? Then you’ll no doubt remember Bowie’s awesome cameo in Zoolander (which you can watch above) or his turn as Nikola Tesla in The Prestige!