Andrew Garfield, Reese Witherspoon, and More Actors Who Learned to Sing for a Role

Between Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield in Tick, Tick... Boom! to Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line, here's a lineup of actors who learned to sing for movie roles

Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon Walk The Line
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock
01 of 09

Andrew Garfield

Tick, Tick…Boom!
Andrew Garfield. Netflix

Garfield not only learned to sing for his role as Rent creator Jonathan Larson in the film Tick, Tick... Boom!, but he received a Golden Globe Award for his performance!

The honors don't stop there! Garfield also received a 2022 Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his role.

He shared in an interview with Wired, "I worked very, very closely with an amazing vocal coach, Liz Caplan, and all of Lin-Manuel Miranda's amazing musical directions team."

He added, "They enabled me to open my voice up to the point where I could honor Jon's songs, and feel confident enough to belt them out, as he always did when he was doing his one-man shows. It was a privilege to be able to learn a skill that I've always wanted to attain, and do it in service to Jon Larson."

02 of 09

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey; Buster Moon
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic; Universal Studios

McConaughey, who voices a Koala named Buster Moon in Sing and Sing 2, didn't have much experience singing prior to the star-studded films.

"My history of singing? Showers, car drives, and to myself," McConaughey said during an interview with Today.

The actor sang Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" in Sing, alongside Scarlett Johansson's character.

Although McConaughey didn't have any professional singing experience, he worked extra hard to nail his song.

"I'd heard the song, obviously," McConaughey told USA Today. "So I said, 'Leave the recording [going] and I'll do it over and over 20 times and we'll pick one out of there,'" he added.

03 of 09

Reese Witherspoon

Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon Walk The Line
Suzanne Tenner/20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

Witherspoon learned to sing for her role as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, which chronicles country music legend Johnny Cash's life.

"I've never sung before professionally," she said on Late Night With Conan O'Brien. "We practiced. We did six months of voice lessons, and then we recorded an album over six months. I got to learn how to sing basically. This man, Roger Love, taught me how to sing."

She applied her newly learned talents to Sing and Sing 2.

"Country music was much easier for me," Witherspoon shared during a Sing interview on Today. "This was hard. Singing Taylor Swift's song, 'Shake It Off' is really hard."

04 of 09

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix Walk The Line
Suzanne Tenner/20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

Witherspoon's Walk the Line costar, Phoenix, had a similar experience while perfecting the recognizable tone of his character, Johnny Cash.

The actor underwent various training sessions in order to master the Man in Black's deep voice.

Phoenix told Conan O'Brien he prepared for the role "with vocal lessons and working with a vocal coach."

"It's the most humiliating process I've ever endured because you do these exercises ... And it's so uncomfortable," he added.

05 of 09

Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt Into The Woods
Peter Mountain/Walt Disney/Kobal/Shutterstock

Prior to playing the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, Blunt told Access that her history of singing only included singing by herself and in the shower – and that she "didn't even want to audition" for the role.

However, the opportunity to work with director Rob Marshall and alongside Meryl Streep again was something that she couldn't pass up.

"It was a very hard thing to resist, so I had lots of singing lessons," Blunt said during a press conference for the film, according to RadioTimes.

06 of 09

Anne Hathaway

Les Miserables - Anne Hathaway
Working Title Films/Kobal/Shutterstock

Hathaway demonstrated her vocal abilities during her Oscar-winning performance as Fantine in Les Miserables, where she sang the famed "I Dreamed a Dream."

The actress worked with vocal coach Joan Lader (whom she shared with Hugh Jackman) prior to production to build up endurance for long takes.

"Immediately after I was cast, Joan and I began twice a week working to improve my vocal stamina so that I could sing for 12 hours a day," she told Deadline.

"I had prepared for singing while crying, and I'd been practicing that because I didn't want to get there and cry and sing for the first time on camera," she added.

07 of 09

Tom Hiddleston

Tom Hiddleston I Saw The Light
Sam Emerson/Bron/Ratpac/Kobal/Shutterstock

Hiddleston faced a bit of challenge while practicing for his role as Hank Williams in the biopic I Saw the Light. It wasn't necessarily the singing, but the British actor's accent that was a factor.

Hiddleston told Vanity Fair that his singing coach, Rodney Crowell, worked with him to loosen his "British stiff upper lip" as well as tackle the daunting task of yodeling.

"There's a moment in a man's life when he's never yodeled – and ... he's asked to yodel, and it's a scary one because you don't know what sound is going to come out of your mouth," Hiddleston told the outlet.

08 of 09

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep Florence Foster Jenkins
Moviestore/Shutterstock

There isn't much that the Academy Award-winning actress can't do. For her performance as the titular role in Florence Foster Jenkins, the task at hand wasn't necessarily learning to sing well, but learning how to sing badly.

Streep worked with music professor Arthur Levy two times a week for four months prior to filming, in order to match the New York socialite's off-key, operatic arias.

"These arias are no joke, even if you're singing off-key," Levy told Newsday. "Especially off-key, which strains the voice."

09 of 09

Bradley Cooper

'A Star Is Born'
Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Cooper might have had one of the best singing coaches by his side in preparation for his role as Jackson Maine in A Star Is Born — he worked closely with superstar Lady Gaga, who played Ally in the film.

"[Singing live] was terrifying, and I really relied on [Gaga]. I spent about a year and a half taking vocal lessons and preparing," Cooper told Vulture.

Prior to filming, Gaga requested that all of the singing in the movie should be performed live (as opposed to prerecorded). The performances were done at Coachella, Glastonbury, and other festivals for an authentic vibe.

Related Articles