Being a rock star and being an actor are not all that different. They both involve getting up in front of people, adopting some kind of persona, and then receiving lots of praise. However, acting requires one suite of skills, whereas playing the guitar while singing requires quite another. Being good at one does not necessarily predict success at the other. Just ask these famous actors/non-famous musicians:
1. Keanu Reeves.
Back in the '90s, Reeves played bass in an alternative rock band called Dogstar. They were good enough to score gigs at major clubs in the Los Angeles area, probably because Keanu Reeves was in the band and there's nothing more L.A. than early '90s Keanu Reeves. Weezer's first gig was as an opening act for Dogstar.
2. Adrien Grenier.
It's not a shock that the guy who played Lord Douche in Entourage would have a band. What is surprising is that he's not the lead singer of the Honey Brothers, but the drummer. Even weirder: one of the other members is named Ari Gold, which is the name of the character that Jeremy Piven played on Entourage.
3. Bill Paxton.
Paxton headed up a band in the '80s called Martini Ranch. They definitely had a Wall of Voodoo-meets-Devo vibe going on. Their video "Reach" was directed by James Cameron, who directed Paxton (or Bill Pullman, a joke we are legally required to make) in Aliens and Titanic.
4. Hugh Laurie.
No matter what Laurie is appearing in—A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster, or House—he always winds up sitting at a piano so he can show off. He found a proper outlet with the formation of Band From TV. The typical lineup of this very kitschy group: Hugh Laurie on the keys! Greg Grunberg from Heroes on drums! Some dude from Desperate Housewives on guitar! One of The Bachelor bachelors on vocals! Get it? They're all on TV.
5. Billy Bob Thornton.
In his band Tres Hombres, which is named for a ZZ Top album, Billy Bob Thornton plays exactly the kind of music you would expect Billy Bob Thornton to play in a band named after a ZZ Top album. From their album Private Radio, here's a song about his then-wife, Angelina Jolie.
6. Kevin Bacon.
You know those Viagra commercials where dudes in their 50s are so jazzed about getting to hang out in side-by-side bathtubs with their wives and then boning later that they form a garage rock band and rock out in a garage to songs that are unheard under the list of side effects read aloud but you can be reasonably sure its Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild"? That commercial is based on the Bacon Brothers, fronted by Michael Bacon and also Kevin Bacon. They've released four albums. They even covered the theme from Footloose.
7. Jada Pinkett Smith.
Smith formed an all-female band called Wicked Wisdom. They ride the line between girl group and nu metal, and are subsequently the only group to ever open for Britney Spears (2004) and also play Ozzfest (2006).
8. Russell Crowe.
Crowe started his career in New Zealand as a pop star named Russell Le Roq. It didn't work out, so he became an actor, and won an Oscar for Gladiator. Then he had the clout to go back at music, forming a band called 30 Odd Foot of Grunts that is not nearly as bad as its name.
9. Johnny Depp.
With all of the elaborate facial hair and scarves, Johnny Depp already looks like a rock star. That self-fulfilling prophecy bore fruit in the '90s when Depp was part of P, a rock band that also included Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers. They played often at The Viper Room, a club famous for being 1) where River Phoenix died, and 2) partly owned by Johnny Depp. P did have a minor rock radio hit with a cover of ABBA's "Dancing Queen."
10. Steven Seagal.
Steven Seagal literally kicked ass. His blues rock band Thunderbox? Not so much. You know, he's always kind of resembled Jim "Blues Brothers 2000" Belushi, but especially when he's also pretending to be a blues musician.