Hollywood actors-turned-musicians are nothing new. It's not uncommon that we see a budding celebrity pull out an acoustic guitar to play some rudimentary chords in an effort to swoon their audience. But when it comes to a celebrity playing bass, that's when we sit up and take notice.
Because bassists are already a breed that typically shies away from the spotlight, it's refreshing (yes, we're biased) to see a popular A-lister sport a 4-string to lay down some grooves, rather than opting for the ripping guitar solo.
So to honor those actors who prefer the low-end, we've put together this brief list of just a few of Hollywood's finest that love the bass guitar.
1. Keanu Reeves
In 1991 Keanu Reeves formed an alternative, post-grunge band called Dogstar to bring his love of the bass to the live stage. The band toured for almost a decade, even opening up for Bon Jovi and David Bowie.
Dogstar folded in 2002, but have announced a reunion for 2023, with new material on the way.
2. Jason Momoa
The Aquaman star is one of the most prominent Hollywood bass players of recent years, and has been very much living the dream, jamming with Les Claypool, and spec'ing Custom Shop Fender P-Basses (used to slap 'n' pop Red Hot Chili Peppers' Higher Ground, naturally).
“We were on the set of Aquaman,” Momoa said of his renewed love for the bass in our exclusive interview. “I always have instruments on the set, so my son was playing drums and my daughter was playing guitar. It was my assistant’s birthday, and she really loves Tool, so I borrowed a bass from my buddy and we all played Sober for her. Right then, my passion for bass really exploded. The moment I put it on, I could just feel the connection – and it was all over.”
3. Ryan Gosling
Turns out one of the top heartthrob hunks in Hollywood is actually one of us. In 2005, Gosling formed his Los Angeles-based duo, Dead Man's Bones, where he plays bass and his friend Zach Shields plays guitar.
Their eponymous debut album was released in 2009 and gained a lot of attention given Gosling's ever-increasing movie fame.
4. Gary Sinise
Actor Gary Sinise is an acclaimed actor known for his memorable roles in movies such as Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman and many others. But aside from acting, Sinise's main passion in life is playing bass.
After playing on his own for many years, Sinise decided to enlist the help of bass guru Jeff Berlin to hand down some instruction. Sinise even has his own endorsement deal with Cort Guitars.
And it's only appropriate that the actor who is most famous for portraying Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump has a popular band called, well, Lt. Dan.
5. Michael Cera
When Scott Pilgrim Vs The World hit theaters, every bassist out there was stoked to see that the main protagonist, Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, was a bass player in the movie.
Posters, t-shirts and even action figures began to emerge of a beautiful cherry red Rickenbacker 4001 bass that Cera used in the movie. But it turns out that Cera is also an avid bass player off the set.
In 2006, Cera formed a band called The Long Goodbye, which was an indie-folk trio with a lo-fi, eclectic sound. In 2010, Cera even joined an indie supergroup called Mister Heavenly with members of Modest Mouse, Man Man and Islands.
6. Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Malcolm-Jamal Warner is primarily known for his role as Theo Huxstable on The Cosby Show, but in the music world he is known as a respected bass player.
A life-long bassist, Warner has even picked up a Grammy Award for "Best Traditional R&B Performance" for his work with Robert Glasper and has long performed at large jazz festivals with his band, Miles Long. With two albums under his belt, MJW is still writing material and playing live gigs.
7. Vincent Gallo
Acclaimed director, producer, actor and writer Vincent Gallo, played bass guitar in a few mid-'70s garage bands such as Blue Mood, Zephyr, The Detours and Plastics.
After finding some success with his outfits, Gallo joined a band called Bohack, who recorded an album and played shows large-scale in support of it. When that band disbanded, Gallo decided to try his hand focusing on movies. Looks like it worked out for him.
Gallo has even kept his focus in music by doing some scoring and directing music videos for Jay-Z, Glassjaw, John Frusciante and a few others.
8. Johnny Depp
Heartthrob A-lister Johnny Depp has long been known to be an avid musician. He's contributed slide guitar to a couple Oasis songs, played acoustic guitar in the movie Chocolat and on the soundtrack for Once Upon a Time in Mexico, has joined Marilyn Manson and other bands onstage and was even in a band with RHCP bassist Flea called P.
He also formed supergroup Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper and Joe Perry of Aerosmith where Sir Paul McCartney joined in on their studio session to record some bass. Lucky guy.
And while Depp might not be as much of a bass player as he is a guitarist, the actor does own a large collection of basses and likes to write music on them and record bass tracks at his home studio. That's enough for us to count him on this list.