It’s not unusual for artists to want to stretch different creative muscles. The instinct is what leads many actors to turn to directing or to producing their own pictures.
There’s far more stigma attached to the actor or actress who picks up an instrument — and pushes himself or herself into a music studio. These days, everyone from Don Johnson to Bruce Willis to Eddie Murphy seems to have albums floating around out there.
For many performers, the move is an ego trip. These people are great at acting — why wouldn’t they be great musicians, too? But others can be truly talented in the musical area and prove themselves in this venue; obviously, their already established reputations and names help them a great deal.
Kiefer Sutherland, the star of “24,” recently released an album that has earned surprising acclaim. It seems Jack Bauer is as good at country music as he was at getting answers out of terrorists.
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Here’s a look at the three best and three worst actors-turned-musicians.
Kevin Costner. The actor has been criticized in the past for using his talents to push forward bloated, overpriced vanity projects, including “The Postman,” “Waterworld,” and “Wyatt Earp.” His music career seemed to be coming from the same place — at first. Turns out Costner and his band Modern West have carved out a nice niche for themselves in country music; they’ve found some serious success.
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The band has released four albums and toured extensively, including performances at a handful of NASCAR events. Costner’s sound is a mix of Springsteen and Tom Petty, and if he ever decided to hang up his acting hat, he’d probably do just fine with a guitar and a microphone.
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Jeff Bridges. Bridges showed off his impressive vocals in the 2009 film “Crazy Heart,” in which he did all his own performing. The “Big Lebowski” actor took things a step further when he released his own country and folk album in 2011. Working with legendary music producer T. Bone Burnett, Bridges stunned listeners by proving that his musical abilities matched his acting prowess.
His self-titled album debuted at No. 25 on the Billboard 200 and charted on the Top Country Albums, Folk Albums, and Top Rock Albums charts.
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Gary Sinise. Sinise is the least egotistical actor to turn to music. His band, The Lt. Dan Band, has not released an album; the group plays mostly for troops and their families. The band is just another opportunity for Sinise, who plays bass, to serve the men and and women in uniform he already works tirelessly to honor and support through The Gary Sinise Foundation.
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Lindsay Lohan. She must think back to her albums as misguided decisions made during a period in her life when negative media headlines were an everyday occurrence.
Lohan’s two albums were everything you’d expect: glossed-up studio content that smelled of sheer desperation. Lohan has proven in the past she has a great voice and can turn in a strong performance, but there’s good reason she hasn’t released an album since 2005 (yes, 2005).
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Steven Seagal. Seagal’s music sometimes manages to have the same quality his movies have: the so-bad-they-might-be-good element.
Seagal (shown in the image at the top of this article) sure knows how to rip the blues on a guitar, but his lyrics include gems like “My God is better than your God” and “I ordered me some chicken. They gave me alligator a**.”
Seagal has released two albums — and let’s just say he hasn’t given up his day job.
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Mr. T. The entertainer’s music can be kind of … incredible. The “A-Team” actor is clearly genuine in what he’s trying to do. But his tunes are mostly bizarre concoctions that feel like they came out of “Simpsons” episodes.
Mr. T put out two albums in the ’80s, both aimed at sending positive messages to kids about staying in school and staying away from drugs. There’s a kitschy quality to them; but it was hard to tell why Mr. T chose music as the medium for his messages.
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