A Whitney Houston song came on the other day on my way home from work. Though the song wasn’t from The Bodyguard, it got me thinking about how much I liked that movie. Kind of like Notting Hill, The Bodyguard tells the story of a major star falling for an ordinary fella, though it didn’t share the same fairy tale ending. Then it got me thinking about what other female singers who actually have pretty decent acting chops. Well, some of you might have read this post about actors who are (surprisingly) good singers from last year, so the professions are reversed in this case.
There are probably more singers who should just focus on their music though, with Madonna & Beyonce at the top of that list, but let’s not focus on the negative. An obvious example of singers who can act is Jennifer Hudson, who won an Oscar for her acting debut in Dreamgirls (which I haven’t seen yet). But I’m excluding her from this list because at the time her singing career wasn’t that prominent yet, her claim to fame was from being the sixth runner-up on American Idol. Besides, I’m only going to include contemporary singers whose movies I have actually seen, which is why Barbra Streissand isn’t on the list either, though she’s also won an Oscar. Anyway, here they are in random order:
- Whitney Houston (The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale)
I absolutely adore Houston’s magnificent voice, she really has one of the best pipes in the business. But you know what, the girl’s also blessed with on-screen charisma, even though her acting chops probably doesn’t equal her singing talent. I thought she was sympathetic and engaging in The Bodyguard as superstar Rachel Marron. Of course she was basically playing herself but she could be embarrassingly bad like Mariah Carey in Glitter. She also pulls off a believable chemistry with co-star Kevin Costner as the object of her affection. That part wasn’t that hard though, even as I rewatched the music video clips from the movie, I too was swooning over Costner all over again 🙂 I also like Waiting to Exhale a lot, and Houston held her own amongst other black actors in that movie.
- Queen Latifah (Chicago, Stranger than Fiction)
It’s hard to dispute Latifah’s charm and congeniality, and that comes across effortlessly on screen as well. She’s been in quite a few movie and tv projects since the early 90s, but it wasn’t until about a decade later when the hip-hop star got major recognition for her acting in Chicago. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as the larger-than-life and smoldering Matron Mama Morton, which she lost out to co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones. She was also quite effective in a small role as Emma Thompson’s no-nonsense publishing assistant, proving yet again that she can handle both dramatic and comedic roles.
- Bette Midler (Beaches, The First Wives Club, The Stepford Wives)
I picked Midler as she impressed me in these movies (though the last two movies themselves weren’t that great), but apparently according to her IMDb page, she was nominated for TWO Oscars. One for The Rose (1979) and For the Boys (1991), neither one I have seen. For me, she’s always going to be remembered for her role as CC Bloom, alongside Barbara Hershey in Beaches, one of the most memorable friendship movies that boast a wonderful soundtrack sang by Midler herself.
- Cher (Moonstruck, Mermaids)
As I had just seen Moonstruck last month, it’s still clear in my head how good Cher’s performance was in that movie. It’s an interesting casting choice that paid off in the end. It’s really a great role for her, not sure if it merits a Best Actress Oscar as I don’t know who else was nominated that year, but certainly worthy of a nomination. She really became Loretta Castorini, the widow who unwittingly falls for her fiance’s brother. One of the best-written female character who’s strong, funny and has one of the most memorable transformation from frumpy to a stunningly glamorous woman. The only other movie I’ve seen her in was Mermaids, playing the role of a free-spirited single mother with panache as well as vulnerability.
- Mandy Moore (American Dreamz, Romance & Cigarettes)
A lot of young pop stars her age have tried their hand at acting (Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, etc.), but I think Moore is probably one of the few that shows a real talent for it. The first time I saw her was in a bawdy musical comedy Romance & Cigarettes at TIFF back in 2005, as the teenage daughter of James Gandolfini & Susan Sarandon. She was pretty good, though the scene stealer in that was Kate Winslet as a foul-mouthed English call girl and Gandolfini’s mistress. The other movie I saw her in was the political comedy American Dreamz, where Moore plays an ambitious teen vying for her chance of stardom in an American Idol-like show. She was spot on and quite hilarious, proving that she has a knack for comedic roles. Looks like the 26-year-old is still juggling singing and acting, and she’s nabbed some lead roles as well, though her movie choices definitely could use some improvement.
Honorable mention: J Lo (showed a lot of promise in Out of Sight, quite likable in The Wedding Planner) but generally she’s not as multitalented as she thinks she is.
Well, I’m probably missing a few important ones. Feel free to add to the list and enlighten me which singers you think are pretty good actors.