Singers Who Tried Acting And Bombed

Singers have been trying their hand at acting for about as long as films have been made. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, the popularity of musical films saw multi-talented singers and actors move between the worlds of music and cinema with ease, with stars like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Fred Astaire turning it into an art form. These days, there's more of a division between singing and acting, but we still see plenty of celeb movement between these artistic venues — but the results have been mixed.

Stars like Mark Wahlberg, Queen Latifah, and Jennifer Hudson have found lasting success as actors after transitioning from their music careers. Others have found this road to be bumpy, but managed to make a few hits along the way: Madonna, for example, found her stride in Evita and A League of Their Own, while tripping through Shanghai Surprise and Body of Evidence. Meanwhile, Mariah Carey resurrected her acting career with Precious after nearly fatally wounding it with Glitter.

But not every singer-turned-actor bounces back from their failures. Some get burnt by the industry and their critics so badly they never return; others seem more determined and keep coming back for more, regardless of how many flops or Razzies they have under their belts. Here's a list of singers who tried acting and bombed.

Britney Spears found herself standing at the crossroads

In 2002, Britney Spears was the height of her career. She just released her chart topping album, Britney, had a monster deal with Pepsi, and Forbes named her the most powerful celebrity (via Entertainment Weekly). Saying nothing of creative integrity, it made financial sense to leverage the Princess of Pop's popularity on film. At the same time, a relatively unknown Shonda Rhimes was circulating a powerful script that placed Antigone in a 1930s Black town. Unable to get that film greenlit, she took on the next best thing: Crossroads.

"I talked to [Rhimes] and told her what I wanted the movie to be about and she elaborated on it," Spears told MTV News. "It was my little project. When you do a movie, I think you have to be really passionate about it. I was having a lot of offers, but this is something my heart was into." The film did what many felt it would: It performed admirably at the box office and was unloved by the critics. 

While her acting was better than expected, Spears' involvement in the flick seemed contrived. "It's a little eerie how machinelike Ms. Spears often appears," The New York Times wrote. "Although she is obviously a human being, her looks, singing, dancing and acting all suggest a computerized composite of some people's ideal of the post-teenage all-American girl." Aside from a small guest role on How I Met Your Mother 12 years later, which also earned criticism, Spears never acted again.

Jessica Simpson attended The Chuck Norris School of Acting

Jessica Simpson has been near a camera for most of her career. As a child, she auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club, making it to the finals before being told to get acting lessons. For those, she visited Chuck Norris. "I was destined to get a Razzie," she later quipped on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, adding, "He told me I moved my eyebrows too much ... I had to do all of my lines with my eyebrows taped."

After a string of successful albums, Simpson started her official acting career with a role in 2005's The Dukes of Hazzard — and fulfilled her destiny by earning a few Razzie nominations for her performance. The following year, Simpson went back to the well and the Razzies, appearing in Employee of the Month, a movie with "bad words, bad acting, and bad worker attitudes," per The New York Times.

After two utter misses, most people would run for the hills, but Simpson is nothing if not determined. In 2007, she starred in Blonde Ambition, a film that was watched by just 48 people on opening day. According to TV Guide, the $384 one-day total was "one of the lowest grossing theatrical films ever." The singer-acress then rebounded into 2008's The Love Guru, a film that one reviewer called, "The Citizen Kane of awful." Since then, Simpson has not returned to film, while her acting coach was named by Slate the worst-reviewed actor since 1985.

Kelly Clarkson went from America Idol to the Razzies

Winning the inaugural season of American Idol was a dream come true for Kelly Clarkson, but one of the perks of the contract, a starring role in a studio-backed movie, turned it into a nightmare. "I cried," she later told the Los Angeles Times. "I talked to many lawyers and could not get out of the movie." Unable to escape the ill-fated film, Clarkson arranged to have her debut album's lead single, "Miss Independent," released before the film premiere. "The fact that that was successful," she said, "I think that overcame what the movie was."

The movie was From Kelly to Justin. It was nominated for eight Stinkers Bad Movie Awards and won the award for "Worst Song." It also received nine Razzie noms, and was named the "Worst 'Musical' of Our First 25 Years" (via Film School Rejects). Clarkson hated everything about the flick. "It was a very miserable time of my life," she admitted to the Los Angeles Times. "I just don't find it very cool that somebody makes you do something that is not your passion and you don't want to do."

If she hadn't already made up her mind, the experience from that film turned Clarkson off acting. While she would do some voice acting in movies like UglyDolls and Trolls World Tour, she explained, "I get really nervous acting, so I don't generally do it. I don't like it. I tend to stay in my comfort zone."

Party on, Garth Brooks

Reports came out in 1998 that Garth Brooks had been working on a feature film called The Lamb. According to Lisa Sanderson, Brooks' producing partner, the country superstar was interested in acting, but his role in the movie was unclear. "We're committed to making the best possible movie," she told Variety. "We're going to develop the script and define the characters first." And that's where everything went off the rails.

In 1999, it was revealed that Brooks was taking on the part of Chris Gaines, a fictitious rock star, and releasing a "pre-soundtrack" for the film. The album, The Life of Chris Gaines, was met with mixed reviews and much weaker sales than what Brooks normally garnered. What followed was a VH1 Behind the Music episode, a convoluted and cringeworthy attempt to create character backstory and viral excitement for The Lamb. It backfired and, sadly, became the only taste of Brooks' character acting we ever got.

"I don't think you're ever going to get that [movie] at all," he admitted in a 2015 radio interview. "... All I can say is, my ribs are still sore from getting the s**t kicked out of me for doing that one." According to TMZ, a 2013 lawsuit against the singer revealed that The Lamb wasn't the only role he botched: Sanderson claimed that Brooks turned down roles in Saving Private Ryan and Twister because he didn't want to be overshadowed by the likes of Tom Hanks and some tornados.

A Neil Diamond in the rough

Musically, Neil Diamond is considered one of the greats. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame musician has sold over 125 million records worldwide and made countless classics. On film, he has a much different legacy. His one and only attempt at acting came in the 1980's The Jazz Singer. According to the AFI Catalog, this movie remake was created to be a starring vehicle for Diamond after producer Jerry Leider had seen him in "a 1976 television special from the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles."

According to co-star Lucie Arnaz's Archive of American Television interview, the musician's star power hurt the film in the early going. "Neil Diamond had never acted before, and a lot of people, including Sidney [Furie, the director], God bless him, were intimidated because he was a big, big star," she said. "... And if he didn't understand how to do a scene, he would say stuff like, 'This isn't any good. I can't do this.' So then the 19th writer they brought on would run back and try to rewrite the script for him, and he still couldn't do it, because he didn't know how to do it."

After Furie was fired and Richard Fleischer was brought in, Diamond received more hand holding, and they finished the movie. The assistance didn't really help Diamond's performance. "He got killed by the critics, as did Sir [Laurence] Olivier," Arnaz said. "Very cruelly, I might add ... They decapitated both of them, and I thought that was just really unfair."

Christina Aguilera was a genie in a burlesque film

When Christina Aguilera was cast in the starring role in the 2010 film, Burlesque, the studio and filmmakers were hoping to create a cross between Moulin Rouge and Cabaret, as per /Film. The early excitement was palpable. Co-star Stanley Tucci sang Aguilera's praise, telling MTV News, "I hear she's wonderful. I've been talking to some of the people at the studio, and everyone is thrilled with her."

The critics were not as enthusiastic. "Not one word out of Aguilera's mouth sounded genuine," Tony Potter from the Standard Journal wrote. "Her one-liners were pathetic, her emotion ridiculous, and her innocent and loud enthusiasm made me want to scream 'put the stupid script down and say it like you mean it.' And what's worse is how painfully obvious it was that Aguilera thought she was so cute and witty when spouting retorts or insults." Ouch.

Audiences weren't much kinder. According to the Bomb Report, the film couldn't recoup losses on its ballooning budget domestically, though it did perform better internationally. While that failure may have dissuaded Aguilera from acting for a time, she did take on a small role on Nashville in 2015. "It definitely stirs the bug a little bit to get back in it but I'd never do it just to say I'm doing acting," she told ABC News of her three-episode stint. "You know, I really do like to do characters that I can bring something to that I can discover maybe in myself."

Carrie Underwood's wooden acting

When Carrie Underwood decided to act in Soul Surfer, she did so because she believed in the film. "It wasn't some silly nothing movie that in 10 years nobody is going to care [about]," she told MTV News in 2011. "Hopefully, people watch this and really take something away from it." Unfortunately, one of the main takeaways from the flick was that Underwood struggled to convince audiences she deserved to be there.

"Underwood can be a fantastic singer (which she does a little here), but she is not an actress," Peter Paras from E! wrote. "Like Christina Aguilera (Burlesque), Underwood doesn't act, she performs. She never has any exchanges with her co-stars that feel genuine." When asked if she might continue acting, the singer was undecided. "You never know," she told AP News (via The Hollywood Reporter). "It didn't fit into my schedule at all, but we made time for it. It was so special. So if something else really special came along, I'm not going to say never."

Well, something special did eventually come along. Underwood tried to fill the shoes of Julie Andrews in NBC's The Sound of Music Live. While the role may have seemed special, the performance was not. "You can salute Underwood's strong vocals and her bravery in stepping into the role, but it's impossible not to notice that she can't act," The Washington Post wrote. "When Underwood spoke her lines, she was as flat as the label on a Swiss Miss package of cocoa."

Jason Derulo's talking dirty to critics

Jason Derulo is a megastar musician, an investor, and a business owner. Now, because of the film version of Cats, he's also an actor. According to Time, the singer wanted to dive into acting for a while, but he needed the right role. "I wanted to find a legacy role," he said. "I was getting scripts all the time — but nothing inspired me to make that jump. Until Cats."

Derulo gave the film everything he had. He even enrolled in "Cat School" to learn how to cat. "You learn all the ins and outs about a cat," he said on Live with Kelly and Ryan. "You're learning mannerisms, you're learning how to embody a cat." According to Page Six, the experience encouraged him to continue acting. "I'm 100 percent [going to do more film]. I'm reading all these scripts I'm inspired by since doing Cats," Derulo said.

Then the movie came out, and it was derided by nearly everyone. According to the New York PostCats was one of the worst movies of 2019. But Derulo didn't buy it. "Reviews don't matter," he told TMZ. "... Any time that you defy what an art form is, any time you defy all rules, there's going to be some push-back, obviously." Derulo also asked the questions, "Reviewers, I mean, what the hell do they know? Have they made a film ever in their life?"

Status Quo changed things up on the big screen

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, British rock group Status Quo tried dabbling in acting. They took on Bula Quo, an action comedy that has band members Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt running from organized criminals throughout Fiji. According to the Daily Mail, it was destined to fail upon its 2013 release. "Excruciatingly written, directed and performed," critic Chris Tookey wrote. "This is the most amateurish movie ever to be built around pop stars." The film performed so poorly that a previously greenlit sequel never saw the light of day.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Parfitt explained that this was actually an improvement on an earlier script. "We got the initial film, which was a movie called Care Factor Zero, and it was gonna be shot in Thailand and in Bangkok, and we didn't fancy it. The script wasn't very good, so we put it on the back burner for six months, or six years, rather," he told Red Carpet News TV at the premiere. "It came back and it was a better script. It made you laugh. And then it was going to be shot in Fiji. We thought, yeah, we'll have some of that."

However, film critic Mark Kermode was flabbergasted by it. "I cannot explain its existence," he said on on BBC Radio 5 Live. "... I don't know. Tax loop? Did somebody win a bet?" He ended his rant by quipping, "When I was watching it, I was struggling not only to stay awake but to stay alive."