Earlier this week it was announced 30 Seconds to Mars, the alternative rock group led by actor/musician Jared Leto, would be breaking up after the conclusion of their current tour. While I wouldn’t consider Leto to be particularly good at either acting or music, it got me thinking about other actors who also spent time fronting a band. This is a look at three actors whose music I actually enjoy, regardless of whether I like their movies or not.
1. “My Body’s a Zombie for You” – Dead Man’s Bones
Ryan Gosling has made a name for himself playing tragic characters in independent films like Lars and the Real Girl and Blue Valentine. In the latter film, he displayed his musical talent in several scenes. However, this wasn’t his first experience with music. In 2009, Ryan Gosling formed a band with his drummer friend Zach Shields under the name Dead Man’s Bones. The self-titled release would contain 12 songs, featuring haunting instrumentation and the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children’s Choir, who only increase the spookiness of every track in which they are featured. The album ranges in sound from indie-rock similar to Death Cab for Cutie on “Pa Pa Power,” to imitations of 1950s teen-idol ballads, like “My Body’s a Zombie for You,” my personal favorite from the album.
2. “Never Think” – Robert Pattinson
Yes, I know. It’s the Twilight guy. While I can’t say I enjoy the vampire series or his selection of roles, R-Patz is quite the musician. He has a style similar to Van Morrison and Jeff Buckley, who he is rumored to be playing in a biopic on the late singer’s life. Pattinson has only released studio versions of a handful of songs, all of which have appeared on the soundtracks of his films, though his repertoire of live music is enough to fill a whole set. My personal favorite of his is “Never Think,” a slow, acoustic ballad from the Twilight Soundtrack. The similarities to Buckley are evident here and while he has yet to prove himself as an actor, his talent in music is definitely clear.
3. “Beelzeboss” – Tenacious D
Sure, they’re a bit of a joke. Tenacious D isn’t so much a serious band as they are meant purely for entertainment. But I enjoy the crap out of Tenacious D, formed by comedians Jack Black and Kyle Gass. Beginning as a live act, the duo would soon appear in an HBO series named after the band and be produced by fellow comedians David Cross and Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show. The band released their self-titled debut after the cancellation of the series and really broke into the mainstream with their feature-length film, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, which was accompanied with a soundtrack of songs featured in the film. My personal highlight is the song featured in the film’s climax, “Beelzeboss,” where the duo faces off against the devil, portrayed by the legendary Dave Grohl, in a “rock-off.” Warning: The language is not for virgin ears.