Hidden Talents: Hollywood's Most Talented Piano Players
Keyboard culture in Tinseltown's Music Scene
It is no secret that many of Hollywood’s biggest stars have a talent for music, and in particular playing piano. From actor pianists to celebrity pianists, there are a lot of Famous actors that play piano these days, and their talent is truly remarkable. Some of these thespians can count themselves among the world's best pianists and could have been famous pianists even without the double threat of their acting abilities. If you’re curious about some of the unbelievable piano skills some of Hollywood’s biggest star pianists have under their belts, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn about some of the incredible artists that have hidden music talents in the world of Hollywood piano players.
Piano’s prowess in Hollywood
Piano playing has long been highly respected in the world of Hollywood, and classic, timeless examples of pianists have graced countless movie soundtracks and on-screen performances. But what may come as a surprise to some, is that some of Hollywood's most prestigious stars are also amazingly gifted at playing the piano. From experienced concert pianists to those who just have a fondness to dabbling in the ivories, not only have these actors showcased an incredible passion and skill for the piano but also proven that musical capability is considerably valuable in the film industry. To name a few of these actors who have demonstrated impeccable piano proficiency, Tom Hanks, Anne Hathaway, and Ryan Gosling all come to mind. It is no question that the piano will continue to be an impressive and critical element Hollywood films and movie soundtracks.
Popular celebrity pianists
Many people are familiar with the Hollywood elite's ability to take on a variety of roles in front of the camera or on the stage, but did you know that there's a whole host of talented celebrity pianists too? Piano facts, from the big screen to the music industry, any number of A-listers have hidden talents when it comes to the piano. Whether it's for production on movie soundtracks, a muse for perfecting their lyrics, or a self-taught prodigy in the making, here's a round-up of Hollywood's most talented pianists. Stars like actors Shia LaBeouf, Miley Cyrus, and Tom Hanks, as well as recording artists Alicia Keys and Ryan Gosling are just a few of the celebrities who have shown off their impressive piano skills to the world. Let's take a tour of some of the most famous american piano players.
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Hugh Jackman may be best known for projecting his formidable talents on the big screen as a film actor, but not many people know that he is also a talented pianist. His musical roots go back to his childhood, when his parents enrolled him in piano lessons. His mother even bought him a piano for his fifth birthday! His talent paid off and today Jackman proves to be a formidable musician with perfect intonation and a great sense of musical timing.
He has even showcased these hidden talents on screen, especially in his standout performances in Les Miserables and The Greatest Showman, where he performs several iconic musical numbers and demonstrates his ability at playing the piano. With such extraordinary abilities, it is no surprise that Hugh Jackman is also a great pianist!
The White House from Washington, DC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Tom Hanks, Hollywood's beloved everyman, is known for his roles in classic films such as Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, and Big. But what many people don't know is that he has an incredible hidden talent too - playing the piano! Hanks has been playing the piano since he was a child, and he's previously stated that he "didn't realize I learned how to play until much later in life".
Piano as a side hobby
As a side hobby to his acting, it seems that Hanks has been honing his piano skills throughout his entire career. He's performed at various events over the years, including the Academy Awards and the Kennedy Center Honors. So, next time you're watching a Tom Hanks movie, remember that he's got more than just great acting skills - he's a talented solo pianist as well!
Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Jeff Goldblum is an actor with an impressive jazz background and virtuoso on the piano. His skill has become wide-spread knowledge, recently performing with the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra in Los Angeles, releasing a jazz album, and hosting his own show, The Lowdown with Jeff Goldblum, featuring the piano-playing talents of some of today's biggest stars. Despite his day job in movies and television, Goldblum is quite the accomplished jazz pianist as well.
Impressive jazz background
With his strong music educational background and natural talent for improvisation, Goldblum can be seen often performing at jazz venues all around the world as one of Hollywood's best pianists. His jazz piano skills are among the best in Hollywood and continues to awe onlookers to this day.
Antonio Thomás Koenigkam Oliveira from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
New Orleans fascinations
Hugh Laurie has wowed audiences with his amazing piano playing skills, which really are a surprise to some fans! Even though he is best known for his acting work, he has been extensively trained in the jazz genre, and his skills on the keys are truly impressive. He has a particular fascination with the musical culture of New Orleans, and his recordings of these New Orleans inspired tunes are absolutely beautiful. It was, no doubt, fun for audiences to discover the talented actor is also a fantastic piano player.
Hugh Laurie is an extraordinarily talented actor and singer, but few people know that he also an impressive pianist. His debut album Let Them Talk was released in 2011 and featured some impressive recordings of the actor playing the piano in a variety of styles from jazz to blues. His renditions of classics such as “St James Infirmary” show off his talent and experience as a club jazz player, and his covers of Tom Waits and Allen Toussaint numbers are expertly played. It’s not just his skill as a pianist, but also his brilliant interpretation of the songs which makes it an entertaining album. Laurie’s talent as a piano player is definitely worth exploring, whether you know him as the actor, or a musician.
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Raised in Melbourne, Australia, Russell Crowe has always been a passionate man with a zest for music and art. While music has always been a strong passion for Crowe, his hidden talent was not revealed until recently when he was featured in the recording studio playing a stunning piano solo.
In the recording studio
Through hard work and dedication, Crowe has become a master in the art of piano playing and has truly unleashed a hidden talent of his. Although he enjoys spending hours in the studio laying down tracks, he also enjoys playing covers of classic rock songs that he originally heard on the radio in his youth. His ability to flawlessly play a seemingly effortless piano piece is truly remarkable and something that all his fans can admire.
Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Piano fascination since childhood
Natalie Portman is an accomplished actress and director but few people are aware that she is also an accomplished pianist. She has had a fascination with the piano since childhood and started playing seriously at the age of four. She was accepted into The Royal Ballet School and passed her Grade 8 in piano when she just 15.
The Royal Ballet School
She is at home in a range of musical styles, from Bach to jazz. She often turns to piano improvisation on set - especially when playing the voracious Nina in Black Swan. Portman's piano playing is talent that few knew she had and she revels in expressing her emotions through the instrument. It is no wonder with such an impressive range of talents that she continues to entertain, both on and off-screen.
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Early dreams of Broadway
Scarlett Johansson is one of Hollywood's most heavily favored leading ladies, but not many people are aware of her musical talents. Not only did she star in the Broadway production of Sophistry, but she began her life with dreams of being a Broadway performer. Beyond her love for acting, Johansson discovered early on that she also possessed a unique and gifted talent for playing the piano.
Appearing in concerts
This hidden talent of hers has led to a few appearances in concerts over the years, giving her admirers a chance to enjoy her beautiful musicality. We look forward to seeing Johansson develop her musical talents even further in the future.
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Piano as stress reliever
Matthew Perry, best known for his role in the classic 90s sitcom “Friends”, is also a talented piano player. During his down time, he’ll often be found playing the piano to relieve stress. He finds playing the piano to be his go-to activity for relieving stress and de-stressing from any pressure. He truly enjoys every moment of it.
Perry is so skilled at the instrument that he’s got some impressive recitals under his belt – he’s performed with Sir Elton John, Aretha Franklin, and other big-name stars. Perry’s passion for piano was even featured in an episode of “Friends”, when he showed off his abilities and played a beautiful rendition of “Chopsticks”. Clearly, Perry has remarkable hidden talents that we wouldn’t expect from a sitcom star. His piano-playing prowess is just one of the many impressive talents residing in Hollywood.
Briana (Breezy) Baldwin from Nashville, TN, USA, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Zooey Deschanel has always been a creative force in Hollywood because her talents extend beyond just acting. As a young girl, she grew up playing the piano, and that early appreciation for music later served as a gateway into other areas of creative expression.
Music for TV and film
She has since used her musical gifts to craft original music for films and television, and even released her own album in 2014. Even as a child, nostalgia and introspection colored her musical style, adding a hint of melancholy to her compositions. It's no wonder so many directors cast her to write the music for their projects; as soon as audiences hear the poignant notes of Deschanel's music, they are automatically transported to a place of introspection that can only be created by her unique sound.
Harald Krichel, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Adrien Brody may be best known for his incredible solom piano performances in films like The Pianist, but lesser known is that Adrien has been a classical pianist since he was a child. His family has provided Adrien with their Italian roots of passo, a love of classical music and swing to instill a musicality in him at an early age.
Supporting the arts
Adrien has showcased his talent and passion for piano with several performances, and continues to do so to support organizations devoted to the arts. He has showcased his talents in honor of The Center for Arts Education and Carnegie Hall, and is passionate about continuing the legacy of music education in young people. Adrien is truly an example of a multi-talented, multifaceted performer, and is dedicated to using his natural gifts to support the arts.
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Rock and Roll roots
Johnny Depp may be most known for his blockbuster movie roles, but few people know that he’s also an accomplished musician and has been rocking out on the piano since he was a kid. It all started when he was given an old upright piano by his mother when he was 7.
Behind the scenes
Depp soon started to hone his piano skills and became really good. He was even part of a rock band called The Kids, which was very popular in the 80’s. Depp’s hidden talent on the piano did not go unnoticed even back then. Despite his fame as an actor, Depp remains passionate about his piano-playing and continues to play the instrument whenever he can find time.
Piano's powerful pull
There’s no doubt that the piano has had a strong influence over many people throughout the years, including some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Not only have several stars taken up the challenge of learning the piano, but their musical prowess displayed through the instrument makes it clear that this impressive list of pianists will only grow. From singing legend Justin Timberlake to beloved comedic actor Kristen Bell, and even the iconic William Shatner, Hollywood’s most successful actors have made the transition to prominent pianists. Regardless of their different backgrounds in music, there is a common shared affection for the piano that the whole world can appreciate. It is exciting to see more of Hollywood’s most renowned stars take up the instrument and open up their skills to all audiences.