Friday, January 25, 2008

A quick rundown of some actresses/musicians

The path of an actor/musician is a difficult one. While they're both creative endeavors, their respective criteria are completely opposite. Generally speaking, audiences expect musicians to live their art -- if you're a cowboy or a punk or a sad sack, people expect you to be that same person when you get off stage. If not you could be labeled as inauthentic, a phony, or a fake. On the other hand, the most respected actors are not the ones who live like their characters do, but the ones who succeed at disappearing into their roles. Actors who just play themselves in movies are simply dismissed (or relegated to Michael Bay summer smashes).

The thing is, you can either be great at one, or mediocre at both. So, ahem, with news of the new Scarlett Johansson album in the works, let's take a look back at some dreamy starlets who dropped their glamorous acting lives in order to tour in a smelly van and live off per diems. Here's a quick rundown of some gals who have tried the ol' crossover. - Brian Battle

Name: Jenny Lewis
Movie History of Note: Love interest to Fred Savage in 1989's Nintendo cross-promo film The Wizard. Also Troop Beverly Hills, Growing Pains, Mr. Belvidere, Golden Girls, Baywatch, Big Girls Don't Cry...They Get Even annnnnnd Pleasantville.
Music History: A "solo" LP, Rabbit Fur Coat, plus a number of solid albums (and one questionable one) with Rilo Kiley.
Comments: Growing pains, indeed. Jenny always had more singing chops anyway, so we're glad to have her on stage and far away from the screen.

Name: Charlotte Gainsbourg
Movie History of Note: More a French star, but has popped up in Dylan biopic I'm Not There, 21 Grams and was a standout in Michel Gondry's Science of Sleep.
Music History: Last year's 5:55 was a sexy (but sleepy) chill-out album produced partly by French Music royalty -- Air. It may have been more fun to see what she did with the Gooom label artists, but it was deece.
Comments: At the ripe old age of 13, way before she was the adorable indie film star, Charlotte was singing uncomfortably incestuous duets with her daddy Serge. Her dad was not that much of a looker, but Jane Birkin successfully knocked the fugly out of the Gainsbourg gene pool and now she's a bona-fide music/film double threat.

Name: Juliette Lewis
Movie History of Note: Natural Born Killers, Old School, The Way of the Gun, From Dusk Till Dawn, Strange Days, The Basketball Diaries. Yeah... crazy. Silly. Crazy silly.
Music History: Juliette & the Licks' Four on the Floor.
Comments: You'll be pleased to know that actress Juliette Lewis can actually rock -- not that there was ever any doubt. The on-screen vivaciousness must transfer well to the live show, which I hear is damn entertaining.

Name: Zooey Deschanel
Movie History of Note: Weeds (TV), Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Elf, Almost Famous, Mumford.
Music History: Deschanel & M. Ward's She & Him -- Volume 1
Comments: Most people's only knowledge of Zooey Dechanel's singing ability is the shower scene duet with Will Ferrell from Elf. Actually, that's the only time I've heard it either. She actually has a really nice, sweet, classic voice. With M. Ward alongside, the album could actually be really great, though I'm not sure about the album title. Also, I suspect it may slip into Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra territory, but we'll have to wait and see.

Name: Jenna Malone
Movie History of Note: Into the Wild, Saved!, Cold Mountain, Pride & Prejudice, Donnie Darko, The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys
Music History: Jenna Malone & Her Blood Stains
Comments: "Who's Jenna Malone?" you ask? Well, she is a chameleon of an actress -- taking on varied roles like Cute Catholic School Girl With Some Issues in Donnie Darko, or Cute Catholic School Girl With Some Issues in Saved!, or maybe Cute Catholic School Girl With Some Issues from Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys. Anyway... she's a badass, and at one point she shaved her head to prove what a badass she is. I'm rooting for you, Jenna. Oh, also, she wins the Worst Name for a Band with an Actor in It Award. (Well, except for maybe 30 Seconds to Mars).

Name: Scarlett Johansson
Movie History of Note: Lost in Translation, Ghostworld, The Prestige, The Man Who Wasn't There, Girl With a Pearl Earring
Music History: Forthcoming Anywhere I Lay My Head LP
Comments: The odd thing is that, while S.Jo's movie roster is by far the best, I'm looking forward to her album the least. Scarlet (who does relatively bad karaoke in Lost in Translation) is doing a full LP of Tom Waits songs. That sounds awful. But, as far as vocal range goes, Scarlett is setting her aim pretty low, so... thanks?