While some musicians have cameo roles in films, others take the lead in projects of their own.
Here are 15 musical artists who starred in their own movies, from Elvis Presley to the Spice Girls.
Elvis Presley starred in more than 30 movies.
The King starred in a whopping 31 movies between 1956 and 1969. Although Elvis’ filmography features a few non-musical films (such as the drama “Wild in the Country”), song-filled hits like “Jailhouse Rock” and “Blue Hawaii” are some fan favourites.
The Beatles made five films named after their albums.
From the black-and-white comedy “A Hard Day’s Night” to the animated psychedelic odyssey “Yellow Submarine,” the Fab Four starred in five movies named for their albums (the only non-narrative film in the mix is the documentary “Let It Be”).
Barbra Streisand not only starred in “Yentl” ― she also directed, co-wrote, and co-produced it.
Barbra Streisand has played leading roles in a bevy of musical films, from “Funny Girl” to the 1976 remake of “A Star Is Born.” But one of her most notable cinematic achievements is “Yentl,” which is based on an Isaac Bashevis Singer story about a cross-dressing Yeshiva student.
Streisand not only starred as the title character opposite Mandy Patinkin – but she also directed, co-wrote, and co-produced the movie.
TV rock band The Monkees collaborated with Jack Nicholson on a satirical musical movie.
The Monkees ― a rock band created for the 1960s TV series of the same name ― collaborated with Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson to make a satirical musical called “Head.” According to The Guardian, the movie could be described as “cryptic” and “psychedelic.”
Madonna has appeared in several films.
Madonna had already starred in hit films such as “Desperately Seeking Susan” and “Dick Tracy” by the time she produced the 1991 documentary “Madonna: Truth or Dare,” which chronicled her Blond Ambition World Tour.
She also notably went on to star in the musical film adaptation of “Evita,” about the life of Eva Duarte Peron.
“Moonwalker” is comprised of several short films starring Michael Jackson.
Named for Michael Jackson’s signature dance move, “Moonwalker” (released in 1988) is an experimental anthology film comprising short films and long-form music videos.
Jackson later teamed up with horror master Stephen King to make a musical short called “Michael Jackson’s Ghosts.”
The documentary “This is It” chronicled Jackson’s rehearsal process for a series of shows at London’s O2 arena months before his death.
“Purple Rain” marked Prince’s acting debut.
Prince made his film debut as The Kid in “Purple Rain,” a semi-autobiographical musical tale about a rocker from Minneapolis. The album of the same name served as the soundtrack of this cult classic.
David Bowie starred as Jareth the Goblin King in “Labyrinth.”
You can watch the 1984 short here.
But fans know his acting career better for his iconic role as Jareth the Goblin King in “Labyrinth.”
The Spice Girls’ movie “Spice World” is a ’90s cultural touchstone.
“Spice World” is a ’90s cultural touchstone starring the decade’s most popular girl group. Although critics derided its silly plot when the movie was released, it has held up fairly well over the last 20 years.
Some have called it “weirdly relevant” and a “postmodern masterpiece” for how it tackles issues about fame and autonomy (a meta subplot concerns Hollywood executives pitching ideas for a Spice Girls movie).
Whitney Houston starred as a singer in “The Bodyguard” and made the soundtrack a best-seller.
Whitney Houston starred in “The Bodyguard” opposite Kevin Costner. She played superstar Rachel Marron.
Lending her powerful vocals to the soundtrack, the album (which features hits like “I Will Always Love You” and “I’m Every Woman”) became a best-seller.
Björk brought her avant-garde musical sensibilities to “Dancer in the Dark.”
In Lars von Trier’s musical drama “Dancer in the Dark,” Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk plays Selma, a Czech immigrant and single mother who works at a factory in a rural American town.
The soundtrack features her original music, which was released as an album called “Selmasongs.”
Dolly Parton has narrated several made-for-TV movies about her life.
Dolly Parton has been able to produce multiple movies inspired by her life story.
“Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colours” and “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colours: Circle of Love,” both based on Parton’s upbringing in the Great Smoky Mountains, are narrated by the country singer herself.
Eminem starred in “8 Mile,” which was partially inspired by his life.
Harry Styles had a big role in “Dunkirk.”
Though he appeared in a documentary as part of the band, One Direction, when Harry Styles went solo as a musician, he also took a solo role as part of the 2017 film “Dunkirk” playing a soldier desperately trying to escape the beach.
Lady Gaga gave fans a glimpse into her life with the Netflix doc “Gaga: Five Foot Two” before starring in “A Star is Born.”
Of course, Gaga also took a starring role in a narrative film in the 2018 remake of “A Star is Born.”
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