We often hear about actors undergoing major physical transformations for roles, often drastically changing their appearance over a short period of time so that they can fit their role better, or using Method acting techniques where they fully immerse themselves into their role and don’t break character through production. The challenge of acting can often be hard enough alone without the layers of additional preparation on top.
Sometimes, when a film is musical in its nature, actors who have no prior knowledge of playing instruments must learn an instrument that would usually take years to master in an extremely short space of time. This is obviously a very impressive feat, so let’s take a look at 7 movies actors learned instruments for.
7 Keira Knightley in Begin Again
Keira Knightley is widely known for her period drama roles. After gaining mainstream recognition for her role in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, she easily fit the aesthetic of a period drama, and performed these roles with excellence. In 2014, she was cast in John Carney’s Begin Again, which was a different direction for her as an actor as this involved full musical numbers and instrument-playing. Knightley had to learn how to sing and play guitar which she said did not come naturally to her. In the end, it paid off, and she delivered a strong performance with her acting, and musically.
6 Rachel Weiz in The Brothers Bloom
When Rachel Weisz took on the role of Penelope Stamp in Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom, she had a lot of preparation to undertake. The film is a comedy drama in which Weisz’s character ends up becoming involved in a romance with Stephen (Mark Ruffalo). The film is not necessarily musical in nature; however, Weisz’s character possesses a variety of talents including the piano, which she spent several months taking lessons for in order to prepare for the role.
5 Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line
James Mangold’s Walk the Line centers around Johnny Cash, a figure who defined American music and had a huge career as well as turbulent personal life. Joaquin Phoenix plays Johnny Cash and gives an incredible performance. Reese Witherspoon also stars alongside Phoenix as June Carter, the singer he embarked on a tour with, which ended up taking a big toll on his personal life and marriage. Both Witherspoon and Phoenix had to take several months of singing and guitar lessons to perfect their roles, resulting in convincing performances which were highly praised and awarded.
4 Taron Edgerton in Rocketman
Dexter Fletcher took on the task of directing Rocketman, which portrays the life of Elton John. Taron Egerton portrays Elton John after his rendition of ‘I’m Still Standing’ in the movie Sing was well received. He took on months of singing and piano lessons in order to prepare himself for the role, which received approval from Elton John himself. Rocketman was a huge success both critically and commercially.
3 Adrien Brody in The Pianist
The Pianist was released in 2002 to massive critical acclaim and commercial success. It tells the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman in German-occupied Poland and how he managed to survive the Holocaust and the destruction of Warsaw. The film was directed by Roman Polanski, who wanted to make the film as realistic as possible. Due to this, Brody had to learn how to play piano in order to maintain the illusion that he was actually playing. The film is a harrowing look into the atrocities of the Holocaust, and Brody’s performance respects the legacy of Szpilman.
2 Ryan Gosling In La La Land
La La Land was a huge success when it was released in 2016. The huge musical blockbuster was directed by Damien Chazelle and features showstopping performances by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. They both had to undergo intense musical training for the film, as it featured several musical numbers which were also heavy with choreography. For Gosling’s character, he played piano, and this was an integral part to his character, so Gosling had to undergo intense training to ensure he fit the role.
1 Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born
Bradley Cooper took on a huge role with the remake of A Star Is Born in 2018. Not only did he star and directed the award-winning blockbuster success, but he also had to undergo intense musical lessons in order to play Rockstar Jackson Maine convincingly. Cooper took guitar and piano lessons for 6 months and eventually would perform on stage with Lady Gaga in 2017 all in preparation for the film’s release. This paid off as the final product was hugely successful and generated multiple hit singles.
Disney and Marvel Studios have announced an adaptation of Armor Wars for the Disney+ streaming service.
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