As host of the Oscars, Anne Hathaway has already proved she has pipes, but in her upcoming movie, "Les Miserables," based on the hit Broadway musical, Hathaway's singing takes center stage.
Hathaway plays factory worker Fantine who is forced to sell her hair and become a prostitute in 19th century France. If the movie's trailer in which Hathaway belts out the show-stopping "I Dreamed a Dream" is any indication, the 29-year-old actress is more than up for the role.
"Her 'I Dreamed a Dream' is just jaw-dropping. It is so raw and heartfelt," Tom Hooper, the Oscar-winning director behind the "King's Speech," gushed to USA Today.
Like her fellow actors in the movie -- Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried -- Hathaway sings live instead of lip-synching over a prerecorded track. "When it's live, you believe it so much more," said Hooper.
It's already hard enough to believe when actors known more for their acting than their singing break out into song on the big screen. But that hasn't stopped them from trying.
Check out some of the actors who have shown they can carry a tune.
He can do drama or comedy, perform his own stunts and bust a move on the dance floor; now Tom Cruise is showing off his singing chops in his new movie "Rock of Ages," which is based on the hit musical. Cruise plays Stacee Jaxx, a long-haired '80s hard rocker with a soft side. Director Adam Shankman ("Hairspray") says Cruise comes by his singing ability naturally. "Apparently, Tom has in his family...some opera singers. And so he's genetically predisposed to be able to sing," Shankman told industry website Collider.com. "No one's ever asked him. That's the weird thing. No one's ever asked him. And he loved that somebody had the nerve to ask him." In fact, Shankman said Cruise insisted that there be no digital enhancements of his voice either. "What he did say is ... it has to all be me."
Last year, it seemed Gwyneth Paltrow started singing and she wouldn't stop. After playing a troubled country singer in "Country Strong," she performed on the Grammys and the Oscars and made a return appearance to "Glee" in which she sang Stevie Nick's "Landslide." Then there was talk that she signed a nearly $1 million record deal, followed by reports that her debut album had stalled. Regardless, Paltrow, who first sang on screen in the 2000 film "Duets," has vowed to keeping singing. "I won't stop singing and playing guitar," Paltrow told Yahoo Music last January. "It may just be to my kids in the house. I may make a record. I may do a musical. I'm not sure, but I'm just very grateful I'm at a place right now where I've been given an opportunity to discover this whole new side to myself."
Kate Hudson showed off an impressive set of pipes and some decent dance moves in 2009's "Nine." Dancing for director Rob Marshall almost meant more to her than the singing. "I grew up in a dancing family. For me working with Rob Marshall was like working with (famed choreographer and director) Bob Fosse," she told Oprah Winfrey. "Nine" was not Hudson's first on-screen singing performance. She took to the mic in the 2000 film "About Adam," in which she played a torch-singing waitress. In real life, she's also been known to burst into song. A few years ago, she surprised patrons at a piano bar on the Italian Riviera when she sang Carole King's classic "You've Got a Friend."
Playing the downtrodden Bad Blake, a washed-up country music star who struggled to get his career on track, in 2009's "Crazy Heart" offered a pathway for Jeff Bridges to be creative in other ways. "It did open up my music a bit, you know?" he told ABC News' "Nightline." "'Crazy Heart' had, you know, music was such a great part of it. And music is such an important part of my life." The multitalented actor said he has fiddled around with music long before he played the role of a musician. Bridges is known for keeping a guitar, a pad of paper for doodling and even paints in his trailer as distractions when working on a movie. And after winning the Oscar for "Crazy Heart," he went on to make an album with songwriters T-Bone Burnett and John Goodwin, who wrote the theme song for the movie.
Reese Witherspoon took home the Oscar for her portrayal of Johnny Cash's wife, singer June Carter Cash in 2005's "Walk the Line." To prepare for the role, she took six months of extensive voice lessons and learned to play the autoharp. Of course, she also had some singing chops to start with. "I wanted to be a Broadway kid. I wanted to be on Broadway when I was 12, so I had singing lessons, but nothing prepared me for what it's like to stand in front of a microphone and hear it played back to you," Witherspoon told the Associated Press. "It's so humbling, and it made me really appreciate people who are naturally gifted."
With the 2008 musical comedy "Mama Mia!" star Meryl Streep proved there's nothing she can't do well as she belted out ABBA songs. "She always had a reputation as being able to sing," New York casting director David Vaccari told ABCNews.com. "People have said that about Glenn Close, as well. People in the industry know they can sing. But not everybody in Middle America knows it." They do now.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- Tom Cruise
- Adam Shankman
- Tom Hooper