17 Actors Who Appeared to Be Singing in a Movie, but Did Not Use Their Own Voice
Music plays an important role in a film, and in some cases, it is a major element in developing a story and attracting viewers. You may remember a famous person who appeared to be singing superbly in a film; however, not everything is what it seems. Due to various circumstances, there are actors who are only responsible for synchronizing their lips and following the rhythm of a voice that belongs to another person.
At Bright Side we were not left in doubt and found celebrities who did not sing in their own films. Above all, we found the real voices that we could hear in the final versions.
1. Deborah Kerr in The King and I (1956)
Kerr received an Oscar nomination for her performance as Anna Leonowens, including her musical interpretation, even though it was not her voice. The real singer was Marni Nixon, known for performing several voice-overs on the big screen, without receiving public credit. Nixon said that when she signed a contract with 20th Century Fox, no one was supposed to know about her involvement. Otherwise, she would never be able to work in the industry again.
2. Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961)
The actress who starred in this film as Maria also received help from Marni Nixon for her musical scenes. The soprano singer revealed in an interview that the producers made Wood believe that she would be singing, so they made recordings, with orchestra, out of her songs. After finishing those sessions, Nixon entered the studio to sing the same songs with her own voice, which, in the end, was immortalized in the visual work.
3. Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964)
The famous actress was chosen to play Eliza Doolitle in the film adaptation of the musical, but when it came to singing, her voice was again replaced by that of the multi-award-winning Marni Nixon. “The Voice of Hollywood” explained that Hepburn did not want anyone else to sing in her place and tried to record the songs on her own, but it was decided to incorporate the singer’s experience into the final edit, the result of which is what we have been able to hear this whole time.
4. Christopher Plummer in The Sound of Music (1965)
Plummer played Captain von Trapp, who appeared in a scene singing Edelweiss. The only detail is that he didn’t actually sing. In an interview, the actor commented that he only participated in the beginning and end of the songs, while the rest was done by someone else, as they took care that every detail resembled the original musical. The real voice in the Captain’s songs was that of Bill Lee, a member of The Mellomen quartet, who also collaborated on other films, mainly for Disney.
5. Lou Diamond Phillips in La Bamba (1987)
In this biopic, Phillips was chosen to revive the 1950s rock singer Ritchie Valens. In order to appeal to a Latin audience, the original songs of the famous singer were reinterpreted by the group Los Lobos for the soundtrack. Therefore, vocalist David Hidalgo provided the real voice heard in the film, while the actor was in charge of synchronizing his lips as best as he could.
6. Wendy Makkena in Sister Act (1992)
Both in the first film and in 1993’s Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, the actress played Mary Robert, a shy nun with a great voice. Wendy revealed that she auditioned for this role by singing, but was unable to hit the high notes. So they had to find a professional. The chosen one was Andrea Robinson, a singer who was also part of the cast meeting, held 15 years after the premiere.
7. Jonathan Taylor Thomas in The Lion King (1994)
Jonathan did the English-language dubbing for Simba’s character when the latter was a young lion, but by the time he sang I Just Can’t Wait To Be King and Hakuna Matata, he gave the microphone to Jason Weaver. The actor and singer recalled his experience and revealed that it was Elton John, co-creator of the original music for the film, who heard him sing in a television studio and invited him to audition for the role. Disney contacted him and offered him a contract to sing in this animated classic.
8. Matthew Broderick in The Lion King (1994)
Interestingly, just as they did with the young Simba, Disney decided that another man should sing adult Simba’s songs, and the responsibility was given to Joseph Williams, lead singer of the band Toto. Matthew believes that he failed to polish his voice well enough for the songs, even though he made 2 recordings. Williams mentioned that he was called up because he could reach the registers to sing Hakuna Matata.
9. Jennifer Lopez in Selena (1997)
This film was one of the stepping stones that projected J.Lo’s artistic career, even though she did not sing in it. At the time, the actress confessed that she did not consider herself a singer, and this was reinforced by producer Gregory Nava in 2020, so they used Selena’s real songs for the scenes in which the character had to sing. In 2015, Jennifer paid tribute to the “Queen of Tejano music” at an awards ceremony, this time with her own voice.
10. BD Wong in Mulan (1998)
The actor performed the original dubbing for the character of Captain Li Shang, except for the singing of I’ll Make A Man Out Of You. Donny Osmond was chosen by Disney to participate in the animated film because the voices of both were similar, and they offered him the responsibility of interpreting the song. 20 years after its release, the singer recalled his moment of glory and commented that he punched his stomach, as did the character, at the time of the recording to make the shot more realistic.
11. George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
The actor was ready to sing I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow in a recording studio, in preparation for the film. However, it seems that the results were not as expected by directors, or so he remembered from his perspective. In light of this situation, singer Dan Tyminski was hired to interpret the song, and Clooney was in charge of moving his lips to the beat of the lyrics. The musician expressed his amazement when this soundtrack became a hit on and off the film.
12. Zac Efron in High School Musical (2006)
If you thought Zac Efron was the one who sang all the songs in this trilogy as Troy Bolton, you’d have to remove the first movie from that list. Even though he made his own musical recordings, he realized that his voice was not included and he received no explanation from the editors. Drew Seeley was the one who really gave the character his voice when he sang, but that wasn’t his only collaboration. He later replaced Efron on the cast’s post-release concert tour.
13. Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose (2007)
Marion received several awards thanks to this film which deals with Édith Piaf’s life. The producers made the decision that her voice was not required to sing and that the actual recordings of the famous French singer were used. The actress confessed that she took singing lessons anyway to perfect her lip-synching, tongue posture, and breathing, in order to get as close as possible to what Piaf did in real life.
14. Yaya DaCosta in Whitney (2015)
Yaya was in charge of bringing singer Whitney Houston to life in the biographical television film, but in the singing scenes, she received help from someone else. Angela Bassett, the director of this production, invited singer Deborah Cox to re-record Whitney’s most famous songs in order to get closer to the tone of the real artist’s voice. However, the actress was allowed to sing, to the delight of the extras involved in the shooting.
15. Rebecca Ferguson in The Greatest Showman (2017)
One of the most remembered songs in this musical film has been Never Enough, which was sung by Jenny Lind. However, Ferguson only interpreted it physically. The actress herself acknowledged that “singing” was the most intimidating part of her filming process. The one who really sang this tune was Loren Allred, who bragged on Instagram about her participation as the singing voice of this story.
16. Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Despite being awarded an Oscar for Best Actor for his starring role in this film, Malek was unable to replicate the vocal qualities of the real Freddie Mercury. According to his producer, Graham King, the solution was to combine old recordings of Mercury with new ones made by Marc Martel, a Canadian rock singer whose voice is similar to that of the British musician.
17. Rachel McAdams in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
The actress starred in this film and played Sigrit Ericksdóttir, a member of an Icelandic duo that aspires to participate in a musical competition held in Europe. Although Rachel initially sang for her scenes, the production crew decided to merge her voice with that of Molly Sandén, a Swedish singer who participated in the children’s version of the real Eurovision Song Contest. Sandén said that she is the only woman heard in the character’s songs.
Now that you know some of the actors who pretended to sing like professionals, tell us in the comments about which world famous movie stars you would like to see demonstrate their musical skills.