In honour of ‘Ricki & The Flash’, in which none other than Meryl Streep actually provides her husky vocals to a track on the soundtrack, we decided to look back over the performances by actors who went all for it and sang in their movies. None of this getting other people in to re-record the vocals, no singers who are also actors (sorry Beyonce, sorry Jamie Foxx), and no actors who we already knew could sing (sorry Hugh Jackman, sorry Zooey Deschanel). This is talent portrayed by surprise, and we loved them all for it!
VAL KILMER – THE DOORS
Leading up to the audition, Kilmer spent months perfecting his impression of Jim Morrisson for an 8 minute video he sent to director Oliver Stone in order to secure the part. It all paid off, as Kilmer’s performance and voice were almost spot-on.
JOAQUIN PHOENIX – WALK THE LINE
Before the film was even in the works, Phoenix actually met Johnny Cash and decided he wasn’t good enough to portray the big man. He eventually worked up his nerve to do, recording every last song that Cash every performed in preparation. Reece Witherspoon performed likewise, garnering her a Best Supporting Actress award in the process.
RYAN GOSLING – BLUE VALENTINE
All those years in the Mickey Mouse Club alongside Justin Timberlake were put to good use on this drama, as Gosling sings and plays the ukulele to melt the heart of on-screen wife Michelle Williams… and, let’s face it, he melted our hearts too.
GARY OLDMAN – SID & NANCY
Becoming the frontman of the Sex Pistols was no easy task for Oldman, but after perfectly nailing his on-stage persona and screaming voice, all that hard work clearly paid off.
CAREY MULLIGAN – SHAME
While her vocal performance of ‘500 Miles’ in Inside Llewyn Davis was arguably better, this actorly performance was on another level. During a long take framing just her face as she sings a slow, heartbreaking version of ‘New York, New York’, we get a deep insight into her character’s shattered emotions.
EDDIE REDMAYNE – LES MISERABLES
Anne Hathaway got all the Oscar glory and poor Russell Crowe was roundly booed, but Redmayne surprised us all with his performance of ‘Empty Chairs At An Empty Table’. The live-recording on set certainly helped pump in a certain emotional resonance not normally found in these musicals.
EMMA STONE – EASY A
You’re probably thinking that we’re going to say he great she was in the barnstorming, foot-stomping version of ‘Knock On Wood’. And you’re right, she was great, but we’re actually thinking about the scene she sings along with her birthday card. All together now: “I’ve got a Pocket Full Of Sunshine! Oh! Ooooo-wah-oh!”
BRIE LARSON – SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD
While she has a habit of being the highlight of every single movie she’s a part of, Larson was a particular bright spot as Scott’s evil ex Envy Adams. The immensely sexy cover of Metric’s ‘Black Sheep’ was the best song in a movie overflowing with great songs, and she could be our evil ex any day!
HEATH LEDGER – TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
Jumping around the place, singing ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’, it’s just another reminder of how great Ledger actually was, and how tragically short his career ultimately was.
TOM HIDDLESTON – I SAW THE LIGHT
We’re cheating a little bit here, as the Hank Williams biopic doesn’t hit cinemas until November in the States (no confirmed release for this side of the pond yet). But with fan favorite Hiddleston putting on his best US accent, performing all of Williams songs himself, we’re expecting great things.
Watch Meryl Streep singing in Ricki And The Flash trailer below