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9 actors who are also skilled guitar players

Ricky Gervais
(Image credit: Future)

If you pay attention to creative people long enough, one thing will be assuredly clear: there is often no end to their talent, to their output, to their drive. Case in point: these nine actors below.

From Zooey Deschanel to Adam Sandler, the people who find themselves on this list are masters of stage and the silver and small screens. But their talents don’t end there. 

No, these folks are also excellent musicians. More specifically, they are excellent guitar players who, if acting or comedy hadn’t worked out, they would likely be able to make a healthy living entertaining the masses with their music.

So, given that, without further ado, we present to nine famous actors who are skilled at playing the guitar.

1. Jack Black

While Jack Black’s career in show business began in 1984 on a TV show called The Fall Guy, many got to know him first from the Jim Carey dark comedy, Cable Guy.

Since then, though, Black has continued to make a name for himself in two major areas: slapstick humor and guitar playing. Co-founder of the acoustic-based band, Tenacious D, Black knows how to ring out a note and hold a tune. 

2. Terrence Howard

Few people on earth are as cool as Terrence Howard. His voice could convince a sheep to give over its wool.

But adding to the suave style of the Empire star is his ability to strum the nylon strings of a Spanish six-string. If you happen to be a candle or a block of ice, be forewarned before you watch this quick YouTube video above. You may melt. 

3. Zooey Deschanel

Many know Zooey Deschanel as a talented movie star. Others know her as one-half of the musical duo, She & Him, with masterful songwriter, M. Ward. But Deschanel, outside of the silver screen or established sonic partnership, is a skilled musician and singer, too.

Along with the guitar, she plays the ukulele and, here in this video with Sasha Spielberg (daughter of, Steven), Deschanel shines as a vocalist. 

4. Tim Robbins

Thank goodness Andy Dufresne got out of Shawshank prison, because if he hadn’t maybe Tim Robbins would still be in the cement cell with his rock hammer and movie posters. Jokes aside, Robbins is a songwriter and proud folk musician. 

He jams with his group, Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery Band, to raucous crowds. And, in case you thought all of this was for show, I once saw Tim Robbins in Central Park in New York City watching a Dave Matthews Band concert with his family. 

5. Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler may be the first actor one thinks about when considering the crossover between musicians and thespians. Sandler has certainly had a great deal of success blending the six-string with his comedy and acting.

Whether singing Lunch Lady Land or The Thanksgiving Song or a tribute to a fallen friend Chris Farley, Sandler knows how to wow his fans with a few open chords and the truth.

He even recently joined talkshow host Conan O’Brien to shred the solo of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven.

6. Carrie Brownstein

Okay, we’re cheating here a bit because Carrie Brownstein started her career as the fabulous frontperson for the Pacific Northwest band, Sleater-Kinney.

But Brownstein’s path took such a turn with her popular comedy show, Portlandia, that so many know her for her subversive television humor that she’s an important addition to this prestigious list. 

7. Kevin Bacon

While everyone is seemingly six degrees away from actor Kevin Bacon, the star of Footloose enjoys a six-string seemingly as much as he does getting in front of a camera and performing a scene.

Bacon likes string bands, loves acoustics and can often be found playing with his brother, Michael, in the Philadelphia, PA-based band, The Bacon Brothers. 

8. Ricky Gervais

Comedian Ricky Gervais might be the most acerbic funny man on the planet - no-one is safe from his laser beam eyes. But the man can also play the guitar.

While anyone might be able to rest on their laurels after creating a show like The Office, Gervais never seems to rest. He’s always making a new show, hosting a new show or, now, offering us song in his own sarcastic style.  

9. Steve Martin

Steve Martin is one of the funniest people on the planet. An acclaimed author, actor and comedian, Martin is also an accomplished musician. And while he isn’t quite known as a guitar player, he is a wild man plucking on the banjo strings.

He’s played NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert and he’s played with Kermit the Frog. There are likely no higher honors in bluegrass music.