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What happens when entertainers branch out into new fields?

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Actress Gwyneth Paltrow has found acclaim as a singer. Not all actors who make the leap are successful, though.

I'm not really sure what runs through celebrities' heads when they decide to tackle a new field of entertainment. Do they want to be challenged as performers? Do they want to see if they have a hidden talent? Are they desperately in need of attention and/or money? Whatever the case, it happens quite often.

Many actors, for instance, have decided to test out the music industry. Some are more successful than others.

Through her performances on "Glee" and in the films "Duets" and "Country Strong," Gwyneth Paltrow has shown that she has a good set of pipes. Her cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 23, and her rendition of Cee Lo Green's "Forget You" attracted praise from both critics and Green himself. 

Zooey Deschanel, known as the star of Fox's "New Girl" and films such as "(500) Days of Summer" (as well as the personification of the manic pixie dream girl character), has her own duo with singer-songwriter M. Ward called She & Him, which received a Grammy nomination this year. Jeff Bridges, star of "TRON" and "The Big Lebowski," has proven himself to be one of the few male actors-turned-singers to have a reasonably commercially and critically successful musical career after gaining notice playing a country singer in the film "Crazy Heart."

 Unfortunately, most actors couldn't carry a tune if given a bucket. Bruce Willis, William Shatner and Steven Seagal all have gotten their hands on a microphone with less than stellar results. Trust me when I say you haven't lived until you've listened to a Steven Seagal album.

On the other hand, it's not hard for most singers to act. For instance, Justin Timberlake has won four Emmy Awards out of six nominations for his work hosting "Saturday Night Live." His portrayal as Napster founder Sean Parker in "The Social Network" was met with acclaim.

Cher is also a well-known singer-turned-actress; she won an Oscar for her starring role in the film "Moonstruck." Her most recent role was in "Burlesque," opposite Christina Aguilera, who was making her acting debut. (Both performances were considered hits.) However, Cher first wowed critics in "Mask," playing the role of Rocky Dennis' mother. In the film, based on a true story, Dennis is born with a skull deformity, isolating him from his hurtful peers, and his mother makes it her goal to give him as normal a life as he can possibly have. So when it comes to a critical analysis, singers are far more likely to be successful in their switch to acting than actors are in their switch to singing. I suppose it's easier to become another person when you are already entertaining sold out crowds on world tours as yourself than it is to stop playing someone else and start being yourself.


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