Lots of musicians have dabbled in acting (think Beyoncé, Prince or David Bowie), but only a few have gone from rocking out to acting out full-time.
Mark Wahlberg gave us good vibrations as frontman for early ‘90s rap-soul outfit Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Their debut album Music for the People (1991) included the American number one hit “Good Vibrations,” and made a star of “Marky” Mark Wahlberg, the younger brother of New Kids on the Block member Donny Wahlberg. A hastily-produced follow-up, 1992’s You Gotta Believe, bombed, but Wahlberg parlayed the attention into modelling and acting. His first lead came in the 1996 thriller Fear, and he has gone on to become a Hollywood A-lister, producing the hit TV show Entourage and earning an Oscar nomination for his role in The Departed (2006). He will next be seen in Transformers: Age of Extinction, out this July.
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O’Shea Jackson – a.k.a. Ice Cube – first made a name for himself as part of the ground-breaking rap group N.W.A. The band’s incendiary debut album Straight Outta Compton (1988) excited rap fans but outraged conservatives with its realistic and often profane take on life on the streets of Los Angeles neighbourhood Compton. Cube left the group to pursue a solo career that included albums and films. Boyz in the Hood (1991) gave Cube a star-making role, but he soon (mostly) left behind the tough guy roles for family-friendly comedies like Barbershop (2002) and Are We There Yet? (2004). Cube still records occasionally, and has a new album, Everythang’s Corrupt, due out in May.
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Known to many Canadians as Ed Lane (Flashpoint), Hugh got his taste of the spotlight as the front-man for Canadian rock legends, the Headstones, with the band’s first album Picture of Health (1993). While touring and promoting the band, Hugh crossed paths with Director Bruce McDonald and was cast as bad guy, Clarence Gaskill, in the film Dance Me Outside (1994). His music and acting career began to weave more intricately as the Headstones released more albums, Teeth & Tissue (1995) and Smile & Wave (1996) and Hugh garned acting acclaim for his lead role of Joe Dick in the feature film Hard Core Logo. When the band split up in 2002, Hugh launched into acting full time landing roles on Durham County and Flashpoint, becoming one of Canada’s favourite leading men, receiving a 2014 Canadian Screen Award for Best Lead Actor in a Recurring Dramatic Role. Now the Headstones are back together with a new album (Love + Fury) and Hugh is acting full-time, in shows such as The Killing and Continuum.
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Wait a minute. Ricky Gervais was a musician? Indeed. Before breaking out as obtuse office manager David Brent in the original, BBC version of The Office, the future Golden Globes host had a short-lived pop music career, fronting the early-‘80s synth-pop outfit Seona Dancing. The duo released just two singles, but both failed to chart in Britain (although they had a hit in the Philippines), and they broke up in 1984. Gervais made subsequent forays into radio and television, breaking through with The Office and parlaying that success into various other projects, including movies (next is the upcoming Muppets Most Wanted), other TV shows (Extras, Derek), podcasts, and stand-up comedy.
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Check out another musician turned actor in our interview with Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, formerly of The Deadly Snakes, now star of the feature film The Husband.