1.Did sing: Austin Butler really sang for his role in Elvis and did months of training to get his voice as close as possible to the real thing. Later in the movie, as Elvis gets older, snippets of Elvis's actual voice were blended with Austin's to make the vocal tone as accurate as it could be.
He told BuzzFeed, "It's such a terrifying thing because Elvis has the most iconic voice. I listened to him every day and I worked with some of the best singing coaches that I could find."
2.Didn't sing: Even though she had to sing in her audition, Jennifer Lopez lip-synched for her role as Selena Quintanilla in the 1997 biopic Selena.
At the time, Jennifer was mainly working as a dancer, and working on the movie is partly what urged her to pursue her own singing career. Now, she's one of the most widely known female entertainers in the music industry, with two Grammy nominations and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame under her belt.
3.Did sing: Andrew Garfield actually learned to sing so he could play Jonathan Larson in Tick, Tick...Boom! He worked with several vocal coaches and learned how to play piano for the movie.
Lin-Manuel Miranda was interested in Andrew Garfield after seeing his performance in Angels in America, so he reached out to Greg Miele, a mutual friend, asking if Andrew could sing. Greg shared, "I said 'Of course he can sing! He has the voice of an angel!' And I'd never heard Andrew sing. As soon as Lin left, I called Andrew, and I said 'Can you sing? Because I just lied to Lin-Manuel.'" Lin also said, “I asked [Andrew], ‘Can you sing?’ And he said, ‘When are you making the movie?’ And I said, ‘Not for at least a year.’ And he goes, ‘A year. Okay. Then I can sing.’”
4.Didn't sing: Rebecca Ferguson didn't actually sing in The Greatest Showman, she lip-synched to Loren Allred singing "Never Enough."
Loren Allred, a former contestant on The Voice, sang the song during The Greatest Showman's workshop before 20th Century Fox even signed on to produce the film. Rebecca told Collider, "If I would F-U-C-K that up, I would be embarrassed. So I thought, ‘Loren, you just go for it, girl!’” This year, Loren appeared on Britain's Got Talent,saying “I was more comfortable singing behind the scenes, but I kind of feel like the song was meant for me, and now I’m ready to put a face to the song.”
5.Did sing: Bradley Cooper provided the actual singing vocals for Jackson Maine in A Star Is Born, on top of directing, producing, cowriting, and acting in the movie.
Bradley worked with a vocal coach for several months before shooting the movie and even shared that performing with Lady Gaga urged him to sing for real. He said, "When I knew I wanted to do this movie and have [Lady Gaga] and sing everything live was that I had to create these guys that are so idiosyncratic and iconic and, you know, they're like rock stars." Even Lady Gaga was shocked by his singing voice and said, "He opened his mouth to sing. I was blown away by his voice because he sings from his gut, and he sings from his soul. I was overwhelmed by his ability to tell a story with his voice."
6.Didn't sing: For Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek lip-synched to tapes of Freddie Mercury's actual singing and snippets of Marc Martel re-creating Freddie's iconic voice.
Rami even joked that "no one wants to hear [him] sing." In an interview with Rolling Stone, producer Graham King explained that while Rami could imitate Freddie's mannerisms and overbite, he just couldn't get the voice. When listening to Marc Martel's voice he said, "Literally, you could close your eyes and it’s Freddie. And that’s a very tough thing to do.”
7.Did sing: Heath Ledger actually covered "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" for that bleachers moment in 10 Things I Hate About You.
Director Gil Junger shared how impressed he was with Heath in that moment: "He was running take after take, up and down those steps. I was actually very surprised at Heath’s athleticism while singing because, yes, that was him singing. Like, of course he could freaking sing too, right? He could wear green leather pants and sing!"
8.Didn't sing: Immediately after hearing George Clooney sing for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the producers decided they needed to hire someone else to provide the vocals.
Since George's aunt is singer Rosemary Clooney, everyone working on the movie assumed he could sing too. George, who knew he wasn't the best singer, wanted to have a little fun with the producers. He joked, "They played it back and were hoping that if I heard it, I'd know it was terrible. It sounded like a cat being run over by a semi, but I wanted them to suffer a little more, so I said it was great." After telling them that he was totally fine with lip-synching, Dan Tyminski was hired to provide vocals.
9.Did sing: Having grown up playing music with several bands, Oscar Isaac actually sang for his role in Inside Llewyn Davis.
He even wrote a song for the movie, and shared, "I've been playing and writing music my whole life and thought that I would love to take on the challenge of creating a song that we can use for the movie. So I wrote a song called 'Never Had,' and he loved it, and I ended up performing the song live in the movie."
10.Didn't sing: Zac Efron didn't actually sing in the first High School Musical movie. Drew Seeley was the one who provided all of Troy Bolton's vocals.
Drew originally auditioned to play Troy in the movie and even cowrote "Get'cha Head in the Game." Zac shared that he was blindsided when his voice wasn't fully featured and was actually replaced with Drew's during post-production. He said, "In the first movie, after everything was recorded, my voice was not on them. I was not really given an explanation. It just kind of happened that way. Unfortunately, it put me in an awkward position. It’s not something I expected to be addressed. Then High School Musical blew up"
11.Did sing: Zac did, however, end up doing all of his own singing for High School Musical 2, High School Musical 3, Hairspray, and The Greatest Showman.
Even Zendaya was blown away by how great he sounded on the track he recorded for The Greatest Showman. She said, "The whole time we were rehearsing he was like 'You know, I'm just kinda rusty,' and then I heard what he recorded. And I was like 'Okay, Zac! Look at you! You were trying to hide it the whole time.'"
12.Didn't sing: Jamie Foxx didn't actually sing in the movie Ray. Instead, he lip-synched to vintage Ray Charles studio recordings.
However, he played all of the piano throughout the movie and even got to play with Ray Charles himself before the movie was shot. Director Taylor Hackford revealed that Ray Charles was also very fond of Jamie. He said, "Ray's not just testing him as a piano player, he's testing him as a man. And finally, Jamie gets it. Ray stands up and hugs himself — he had a way of doing that when he got excited — and said, 'The kid's got it!' I had cast Jamie as Ray Charles, but it was at that moment Ray anointed him. Jamie must've grown about 10 feet tall."
13.Did sing: Taron Egerton sang "every note" while portraying Elton John in the movie Rocketman.
He even explained that since the world is so accustomed to Elton John's voice, he didn't feel like he needed to do a perfect imitation of it. He said, "It’s not intended to be a carbon copy performance of who Elton is. This was an enormous source of anxiety to me — I believed that it would work, but I wasn’t certain of it.” He even got a Grammy nomination for his singing in the movie.
14.Didn't sing: Even though Viola Davis does actually sing one song, “These Dogs of Mine," Maxayn Lewis provided all the rest of the vocals for Viola to lip-synch to in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
Maxayn told Variety that before recording the music, she had to learn Viola's cadence and breath control as Ma Rainey. She said, "Every individual has a cadence to their speech, how they talk and how they breathe, and Ms. Davis has that certain kind of cadence when she does a character. It is never the same, and that is the greatness of her. So, I listened to her cadence of how she was speaking as Ma, how she controlled her breath. I looked at how she moved her lips so I could nail it."
15.Did sing: Reese Witherspoon did all her own singing for Walk the Line and worked with voice coaches for about six months. Her performance as June Carter even earned her an Academy Award.
She reminisced about the experience, saying, "Joaquin and the guys in the band practiced every day and every night. Despite all the practice, I was so nervous to sing in front of those huge crowds, but once we got started, it was such a thrill. Truly an unforgettable experience I will always cherish."
16.Didn't sing: Natalie Wood didn't end up actually singing in West Side Story, even though she recorded all of Maria's songs herself. She wasn't told until the last day of production that her voice would be dubbed in the movie.
Marni Nixon was brought in to re-record the songs so Natalie could lip-synch. In Marni's memoir, I Could Have Sung All Night, co-author Stephen Cole said, “Marni thought it was barbaric. Because Natalie was not good and everyone would tell her she was wonderful, she was fabulous, knowing that they would not be using her tracks."
17.Did sing: Jamie Campbell Bower did all of his own singing for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which was also his film debut.
He also became the lead singer for the band Counterfeit before their split in 2020. However, he still releases his own music, and his latest singles — "Run On" and "Devil in Me" — were just released May 27, the same day Stranger Things 4 dropped on Netflix and Jamie made his debut as 001.
18.Didn't sing: While Rachel McAdams actually sang while filming Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, Swedish singer Molly Sandén's voice was layered over Rachel's.
She explained, "I was singing all the songs, and then David would lift bits of my performance. The bulk of the music was done by a Swedish singer, Molly Sandén. Our voices were quite similar. They did some fancy stuff in the studio and pulled it together that way, and then I sing the song that my character is composing.”
19.Did sing: Tom Cruise took voice lessons and did all of his own singing for Rock of Ages. And because he's so dedicated to his roles, he would sing full out for "four or five hours per day."
Director Adam Shankman was thrilled the first time he heard Tom sing. He said, "He sounded amazing. And within one lesson, his range broadened as he opened up. I opened the door, and I was like a 15-year-old girl, I was screaming and jumping up and down and going, ‘Oh my god this is going to work.’”
20.Didn't sing: Marion Cotillard took singing lessons while working on La Vie En Rose, but her voice wasn't actually used and she lip-synched for the movie.
She told Graham Norton that she took voice lessons so she could really nail Édith Piaf's singing technique — she wanted to make sure her tongue and lips were moving the same way Édith's did.
21.Did sing: Tom Hiddleston did his own singing when he played Hank Williams in I Saw the Light, even though he'd never sung before in his life.
Tom is naturally a baritone and Hank Williams was a tenor, so he had to train for months to be able to hit the higher notes. He said, "I had listened to ‘Love Sick Blues’ and to ‘Long Gone Lonesome Blues,’ and I didn’t know how to make my vocal cords vibrate to make that specific sound. ... I thought it was an accident of genetics."
22.Didn't sing: Christopher Plummer actually only sang a few tiny bits in The Sound of Music. The rest of the time, he lip-synched to Bill Lee's voice.
When he explained the dubbing process, he said, "It was very well done. The entrances and exits from the songs were my voice, and then they filled in — in those days, they were very fussy about matching voices in musicals."
23.And finally, did sing: Brie Larson actually covered "Black Sheep" when she played Envy Adams in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Brie's version of the song gained so much popularity that the song was finally made streamable in June 2021, along with the rest of the film's expanded soundtrack. Brie even covered the song again on her YouTube Channel.
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