You must love La La Land. Or hate it. Apparently, ambivalence is not an option. Why? Because it's the new kid in town who's bursting with popularity, and if you do the math, all votes point to it most likely winning Best Picture at the Oscars this Sunday.
Directed by Whiplash writer/director Damien Chazelle, La La Land is a modern-day musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, two ambitious dreamers who must decide whether true love is worth more than their grand ambitions for fame.
Fun, right? A nod to the golden age of Hollywood — what could be so wrong about that? Well, some critics have taken issue with Chazelle's casting choice of Stone and Gosling, two actors who aren't accomplished singers or dancers by any stretch of the imagination. Gosling especially has been the butt of jokes for his sparse talents in those departments (he looks at his feet while dancing — no! — and he really, really can't hold a tune, folks — double no!)
But Gosling isn't the first A-list actor who's dared to do a little song and dance in his career. Here's a shortlist of other bankable actors who are primarily known for their acting, but have also tinkered with their musical side. For better or worse, here goes:
It appears Hugh Jackman is searching for his soul. He's played a mouse who's flushed down the toilet, a penguin who sings Elvis songs, a fierce magician, and most notably, an angry, chesticle-bursting Wolverine. But when he appeared in Les Miserables in 2012, some fans praised him, while others scrunched their faces in dismay. But heck, it's worth noting he was Oscar-nominated for his role in Les Mis and he won a 2004 Tony Award for his spin as singer-songwriter Peter Allen in the musical The Boy from Oz . . . you be the judge.
Christopher Walken started out as a dancer, and dance we know he can! But this larger-than-life personality, known for films like The Deer Hunter, The Dead Zone, At Close Range, and Catch Me If You Can, is arguably suspect in the singing arena . . .more like singing-talking, actually. Hairspray, Peter Pan Live!, and The Jungle Book, anyone?
Famous for his comedic films like Blazing Saddles, Stir Crazy, and The Woman in Red, Gene Wilder's acting had vocal chops to match. Listening to his musical numbers in Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and most wonderfully in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is like tasting cotton candy on a stick. Fun, light and sweet at the same time.
We like Ewan McGregor. And his Scottish accent is also lovely, but to hear the American Pastoral director/actor sing (strain?) his heart out with his plastered smile in Moulin Rouge? Well, the best word is "tolerable."
Johnny Depp is known for his affinity for playing oddball characters, so his role in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street came as no surprise. But when asked by Burton if he might be able to sing in the film, Depp replied with an honest "I don't know." We don't either, but between Sweeney Todd and his "yo ho, yo ho-ing" in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, we're leaning towards yo no, no.
This man's got a helluva voice — singing or not. We loved him in Clue and as the gutter-creeping Pennywise the Clown in Stephen King's It, but Tim Curry took on a new air of amazingness with his musical roles in Annie and of course, playing scientist and transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror Picture Show.