Moviegoers might be surprised to learn that some of the A-list actors they've come to know and love have attempted careers as singers or musicians. Many of these stars only put out one (or two) albums before they realized a musical life wasn't for them. To mark the 15th anniversary of Minnie Driver's debut studio album, "Everything I've Got in My Pocket," which came out on Oct. 5, 2004, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at some of the actors who've surprisingly (and forgettably) released music over the years, starting with the "Good Will Hunting" star… The Oscar-nominated actress — who showed off her vocal chops in the 2004 film adaptation of the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "The Phantom of the Opera" — released two more albums following her debut: 2007's "Seastories" and 2014's "Ask Me to Dance." Unfortunately, all three albums failed to make an impact. Now keep reading for more actors you probably forgot made music…
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Minnie Driver's "The Phantom of the Opera" co-star Emmy Rossum, who happens to be a lyric soprano, actually launched her career as an opera singer with the Metropolitan Opera Children's Chorus. But her career took a major turn once she started focusing on mainstream acting gigs and now, audiences know her best for her work on "Shameless." The Golden Globe-nominated actress went back to her roots in 2007 when she released her debut studio album, "Inside Out." She released her sophomore album, "Sentimental Journey," in 2013.
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Prior to his career comeback in the "Iron Man" films, Robert Downey Jr. tried his hand at singing. His debut album, "The Futurist," was released in 2004 but did not fare well. It peaked at No. 121 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and received mixed reviews from critics. Robert said in 2006 that he doesn't think he will release another album due to the amount of energy and work — including singing plus designing the cover art and track listing label — that was involved in the project with little payoff.
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Alyssa Milano traveled overseas to build singing success during her teen years. Fans may be shocked to learn that the "Charmed" alum was a huge pop star in Japan! She released four albums ("Look In My Heart," "Alyssa," "Locked Inside a Dream" and "Do You See Me?") as well as two compilation albums. In 1991, she told the Los Angeles Times that she didn't want to build a music career in the United States: "A lot of actors who release albums here are laughed at," she said at the time. "I'm not interested in crossing over. I'd much rather have it released where it's appreciated than laughed at." When asked about her time as a pop star on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in 2013, Alyssa said she didn't remember her biggest '90s hit and hasn't been back to the country since that time.
Before Keanu Reeves was The One in "The Matrix," he was a singer and guitar player! The actor played bass guitar in the alternative rock band Dogstar, which formed in the early '90s. They released an EP and two albums before quietly disbanding in late 2002.
Jada Pinkett Smith is an amazing actress, a loving wife to Will Smith, a super-mom to two kids and the frontwoman for a nu-metal band! She performed with Wicked Wisdom under the stage name Jada Koren. The group, which released albums in 2004 and 2006, achieved moderate success in the industry, having previously opened for Britney Spears in 2004 during the European leg of her tour. Wicked Wisdom announced that they would be recording new music in 2013, but we're still waiting for it.
A then-unknown Russell Crowe might have been singing things into existence when he recorded the song "I Want to Be Like Marlon Brando" in 1980. The song never earned him much praise, but the A-list actor continued to record music while making a name for himself in Hollywood. Since his early singing days, Russell has released several albums with his band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts.
In 2001, Jamie-Lynn Sigler delivered a major flop with her debut pop album, "Here to Heaven." Six years later, she told the New York Post that she was "embarrassed" by the album and regretted releasing it. The "The Sopranos" alum did eventually drop one more single: 2012's "You," a collaboration with Romeo Santos.
Who knew dreamy Ryan Gosling was also a recording artist? The "La La Land" actor released his first single, "Put Me in the Car," in 2007. That same year, he and friend Zach Shields started an indie rock band called Dead Man's Bones. They released a self-titled debut album in 2009 before touring North America. Ryan not only sings on the album but also plays piano, guitar, bass and cello.
Hugh Laurie occasionally showed off his guitar-playing skills as the title character on "House." In real life, he released two blues albums, 2011's "Let Them Talk" and 2013's "Didn't It Rain." In addition to guitar, the English actor plays piano, drums, harmonica and saxophone. He's also a member of the charity rock group Band From TV, which features fellow stars of the small screen like Greg Grunberg, James Denton, Jesse Spencer, Bob Guiney, Adrian Pasdar, Scott Grimes and Teri Hatcher.
Joey Lawrence was once a new jack swing pop singer. The former child star released his self-titled debut album in 1993 when he was just 16. he released his second album, "Soulmates," in 1997 before deciding to exclusively focus on acting. Joey changed his tune in 2011, however, when he debuted two new singles: "Rolled" and "Give It To Ya (Acoustic)." In 2017, he released a new EP: "Imagine."
William Shatner might be known as Captain Kirk on "Star Trek," but the veteran actor is also a singer. He first exposed audiences to his trademark spoken word singing in 1968 with the release of his album "The Transformed Man." The actor, whose music has been well-received since his debut, has released several more albums since then.
Legendary comedian, A-list actor and… pop singer? That's right, entertainment icon Eddie Murphy attempted a singing career in the 1980s. His biggest single, the Rick James-produced "Party All The Time," was released in 1985 and reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100! Eddie released two more albums over the next eight years — one of which included a single with Michael Jackson — but eventually put down the mic in 1994.
You know Bruce Willis as the quintessential Hollywood action star, but the "Die Hard" actor has also dabbled in music. In the 1980s, Bruce recorded a pop-blues album under the name of his alter ego, Bruce Radolini, and called it "The Return of Bruno." His hit single "Respect Yourself" climbed up the charts and peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. There was even an HBO "mockumentary" made in support of the album in 1987. Two years later, Bruce released the follow-up, an R&B album called "If It Don't Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger."
It's only right that Jeff Bridges won an Academy Award for playing a country singer in "Crazy Heart," considering the actor himself is a singer. Jeff released his debut album, "Be Here Soon," in 2000, a self-titled album in 2011 and a spoken-word album, "Sleeping Tapes," in 2015.
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon players can add one more connection to the game thanks to the actor's career in music. The "Footloose" star is one-half of The Bacon Brothers, a bluegrass band (comprised of the actor and his brother Michael) that has been releasing music since the late '90s. The little-known group released their self-titled album — their ninth overall — in 2018.
Beauty, brains and vocals! Scarlett Johansson experimented with a music career in 2008 when she released an album of covers called "Anywhere I Lay My Head." A year later, she released a collaborative album, "Break Up," with singer-songwriter Pete Yorn. In February 2015, on the heels of her moderate music success, she formed a band called The Singles with Este Haim of HAIM and musicians Holly Miranda, Kendra Morris and Julia Haltigan. The group released the single "Candy" that same year.
Zooey Deschanel might be known for her work as an actress, but the mother of two is also an accomplished singer. Audiences got a small taste of her talent when she performed a rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in 2003's "Elf," but Zooey first began singing professionally two years before that. In 2001, she partnered up with fellow actress Samantha Shelton for the jazz cabaret act "If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies." Then in 2008, she released "Volume One," her first album as half of "She & Him" with singer-songwriter M. Ward. The twosome have since released five more albums. Fans can also hear the singer-actress in a duet she performed with friend and "500 Days of Summer" co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt: The pair recorded a cover of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" for Zooey's HelloGiggles YouTube channel in 2011, and it currently has more than 20 million views!
Who knew funnyman Steve Martin is also a Grammy-winning musician? The actor is a seasoned banjo player who started strumming when he was only 17 years old. He released his first album, "Let's Get Small," in 1977 and has released several more albums since then. All that hard work paid off when Steve won a Grammy for best bluegrass album for "The Crow" in 2010.
"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" alum Tatyana Ali is also an R&B singer who began performing professionally in the '90s. Her debut album, "Kiss the Sky," was certified gold in 1999 and featured the hit song "Daydreamin." Tatyana decided to try music again in 2014 when she released a new EP entitled "Hello."
The same year Jason Schwartzman made his acting debut in "Rushmore," his band Phantom Planet released their debut album, "Phantom Planet Is Missing." It wasn't until the pop rock act released their second album "The Guest," which featured their breakthrough track "California," that they scored mainstream success. Jason, who played the drums, left the group in 2003 to focus on his burgeoning acting career. He went on to star in "Marie Antoinette," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Saving Mr. Banks" and "Big Eyes," as well as several more major film projects that have overshadowed his early career as a minor-league rock star. Fun fact: Brie Larson was engaged to Phantom Planet's lead singer, Alex Greenwald. Speaking of Brie…
More than a decade before she won an Oscar and nearly 15 years before she shot into the spotlight as Captain Marvel, Brie Larson released her first and only album: "Finally Out of P.E." The teen-years-themed pop album reportedly sold just 4,000 copies in the United States.
Nearly two decades before he earned an Oscar nomination for "The Revenant," Tom Hardy and his pal Edward Tracy recorded a mixtape, "Falling on Your Arse in 1999," under the names Tommy No 1 and Eddie Too Tall. In 2011, the actor told the BBC that he started rapping when he was 14 or 15, went on to work with a pair of Grammy-winning producers and recorded "loads of stuff" — whole albums — that never saw the light of day. "Because I come from a nice middle-class neighborhood it was a very hard sell. And I wasn't very good!" he said.
Four years after she showed off her vocal chops as a rising country star in 2010's "Country Strong," Leighton Meester released her first and only studio album: 2014's "Heartstrings." Though she released a handful of singles before that (she was also featured on Cobra Starship's 2009 hit "Good Girls Go Bad"), the "Gossip Girl" star hasn't dropped new music since the mostly forgotten pop album, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers Albums chart.
Michael Shannon made his feature film debut in "Groundhog Day" in 1993. Nearly a decade later, he formed the folk-rock band Corporal, which took eight years to release their self-titled debut album. "Corporal" arrived a year after Michael earned an Oscar nomination for his work in "Revolutionary Road." Since then, his career as a rocker has remained stagnant while his career as a Hollywood star has proved fruitful — he scored another Academy Award nomination in 2017 for his performance in "Nocturnal Animals."
Katey Sagal has starred on several ridiculously popular TV shows — from "Married… with Children" and "8 Simple Rules" to "Sons of Anarchy" and "Shameless." But the Golden Globe-winning actress actually launched her career in the '70s and '80s as a backup singer for superstars like Bette Midler, Bob Dylan, Olivia Newton-John, Etta James and Tanya Tucker. Shockingly, it wasn't until 1994 that she released an album of her own: "Well…" Her sophomore album, "Room," arrived a decade later. In 2013, she released "Covered," a collection of covers. Who knew?!
If you've seen Maya Rudolph on "Saturday Night Live," you know she has the vocal chops to pull off a mean Beyonce impression. That's because before she was one of the biggest names in comedy, the "Bridesmaids" star served as a keyboardist and backup singer for the rock band The Rentals. She toured with the group in support of their first album, 1995's "Return of the Rentals," and contributed to their second album, 1999's "Seven More Minutes."
We know and love Brain Austin Green for his work as David Silver on "Beverly Hills, 90210." But a small subsect of the population also knows and loves Brain Austin Green for his work as a hip-hop artist. In 1996, at the height of his fame as a teen idol, Megan Fox's future hubby released his first and only album: "One Stop Carnival."
It wasn't until 2016 that Kiefer Sutherland released his debut studio album: "Down in a Hole." Although it hit No. 35 on Billboard's US Top Country Albums chart, anyone who's not a huge fan of the former "24" star is most likely unaware of this fact. His sophomore effort, "Reckless & Me," arrived three years later, in April 2019. The second time around, Kiefer completely failed to make an impact on US charts, though he scored a No. 1 hit on the U.K. Country Albums chart.
Jeremy Renner has worked on a handful of music projects over the years. In July 2019, he released three singles: "Main Attraction," "Nomad" and "Sign." He told People magazine around the time the songs dropped, "My family was my first love, and then music." He added that he's sitting on a treasure trove of previously unreleased music: "There's a bunch of music written, and that's a future thing. I'm happy to share music now, which I wasn't before," he said. Sadly, as soon as his new music arrived, it disappeared into the sands of time…