Remember Baz Luhrmann? The Australian film director who gave us some of the most colourful and exhilarating movies of the modern era, namely “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge!”? Now, he’s finally made a comeback with the highly-anticipated Elvis Presley biopic called “Elvis”, which stars Austin Butler in the title role.
And as we wait for its arrival this 23 June, let’s take a look at the 7 Actors Who Stood Out In Their Music Biopic Performances.
1) Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Playing a larger-than-life legendary performer like Freddie Mercury is bound to be a huge undertaking. But Rami Malek, whose prior acting resume includes “Mr Robot” and “Night at Museum: Secret of the Tomb”, takes up the challenge and does a pretty good job nailing the role in “Bohemian Rhapsody”. He proves that he can sing, even though his voice is seamlessly mixed together with “an amalgamation of a few voices”. He even successfully captured Freddie’s signature flamboyant swagger and personality. His scene-stealing performance undoubtedly earned him a well-deserved Oscar for Best Actor, beating strong contenders like Christian Bale for “Vice” and Bradley Cooper for “A Star Is Born”.
2) Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in “Ray”
2004 was a banner year for Jamie Foxx, whose performances in “Collateral” and “Ray” earned him double Oscar nominations in the acting category. He eventually won for the latter and deservedly so. Not only does Foxx bears an uncanny resemblance to the late soul legend Ray Charles but he also nailed his signature gesture and mannerisms.
3) Jennifer Lopez as Selena Quintanilla in “Selena”
Personally, I’m not a big fan of Jennifer Lopez as an actress. Of course, there are a few exceptions, namely her stunning roles as a veteran stripper in “Hustlers” and as a corrupted police detective in TV’s “Shades of Blue”. But let’s not forget her breakout performance as Selena Quintanilla in “Selena” back in 1997. The Tejano music sensation is, of course, best known for her hit songs such as “Como La Flor” and “I Could Fall in Love”. As a singer herself, it does give her an extra advantage to nail the late Selena’s vocal performance and dance moves. She is certainly born to play the role and frankly, it’s hard to think of anyone else other than Jennifer Lopez. Too bad her otherwise phenomenal performance failed to land her an Oscar nomination, let alone a win.
4) Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland in “Judy”
Renee Zellweger famously won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role as Judy Garland in “Judy”. The movie itself is pretty much a standard-issue biopic but her performance is something else altogether. She nails the late “Over the Rainbow” singer’s body language and mannerisms and not to forget, she also bears an uncanny resemblance to Judy Garland. But what fascinates me the most is that Renee Zellweger actually sings in the movie and yes, she doesn’t lip-synch whatsoever.
5) Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in “Walk the Line”
Today’s generation of moviegoers may associate Joaquin Phoenix with his now-iconic, Oscar-winning titular role in “Joker”. But fans of his work know that Phoenix’s acting resume speaks a volume in terms of versatility. This brings us to one of Phoenix’s memorable performances of his career as country music icon Johnny Cash in “Walk the Line”. His performance is truly one for the ages, where he successfully re-created Cash’s swagger and signature deep, gravel voice. Joaquin Pheonix did earn an Oscar nomination for Best Actor but it was Philip Seymour Hoffman who won for “Capote”.
6) Taron Egerton as Elton John in “Rocketman”
Here’s a by-the-numbers biopic of Elton John, whose illustrious musical career and flamboyant personal life would suggest otherwise. But at least “Rocketman” gets it right when comes to the main subject himself — Elton John played by Taron Egerton of “Kingsman” fame. Believe it or not, he actually does all his own singing here. And that includes live and pre-recorded voices throughout the movie.
7) Lou Diamond Phillips as Ritchie Valens in “La Bamba”
“La Bamba” only marked then-unknown Lou Diamond Phillips’ third acting role in a feature-length film at the time. But his role as the short-lived singer, Ritchie Valens who famously gave the world the infectious title song in “La Bamba” proves to be his breakthrough. And what a breakthrough it turns out to be — the role of a lifetime that launched his Hollywood career back in 1987.
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