Festive music and movies are two sides of the same Christmas coin — both are absolutely crucial to fully celebrating the holiday season each year.
Some musicians have tried out both mediums, with credits on both X-mas songs and films. Sometimes, stars will appear as themselves, while others test out their acting chops as fictional characters. Many of those characters are also singers, but occasionally, musicians play people whose gifts are way different from theirs in real life.
There’s Mariah Carey, whose Christmas catalog — namely “All I Want For Christmas” — dominates charts and radio waves every December. But did you know she also once directed and starred in a project for the mother of all holiday TV movie networks, Hallmark? Dolly Parton, too, has been contributing to the Christmas carol canon for decades, but she’s also starred in a stocking-full of holiday films. As have artists from all genres and backgrounds — this list alone includes Ludacris, Whitney Houston, Steven Tyler, Willie Nelson and the Jonas Brothers.
As the days ’til Christmas count down, now’s the time to revisit some favorite classics or cue up something new, movie- and music-wise. And why not press play on something that crosses over both worlds? The season only comes around once a year, and these entertainers have proven they know how to make the most of it by stepping out of their comfort zones and trying something new for the holidays.
Keep reading to see 20 holly jolly movies in which musicians made cameos below:
Movie: Christmas on the Square
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has also been in A Smoky Mountain Christmas, Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, A Country Christmas Story and Christmas at Dollywood.
Movie: Polar Express
Character: Elf Lieutenant/Elf Singer
The rocker sang “Rockin’ on Top of the World” for the animated feature.
Movie: Family Switch
Characters: Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wilson, Scott Shriner and Brian Bell joined the cast as Ed Helms’ character’s fictional bandmates.
Willie Nelson & Kris Kristofferson
Movie: Angels Sing
Character: Nelson played Nick while Kristofferson portrayed The Colonel.
Movie: Merry Liddle Christmas
Character: Jacquie Liddle
The former Destiny’s Child member played a successful tech entrepreneur who falls in love with her neighbor while hosting her dysfunctional family for the holidays.
Movie: Every Day Is Christmas
The R&B great learns to embrace the spirit of Christmas in this modern take on A Christmas Carol.
The Jonas Brothers
Movie: Dash & Lily
The main characters attend a Jonas Brothers concert before sneaking into Nick Jonas’ trailer, where the youngest band member proceeds to give Dash some advice about love.
Movie: Miracle in Motor City
Tia Mowry’s character Amber promises to deliver a special performance by Robinson at her church’s Christmas pageant.
Movie: Christmas in Tahoe
Character: The Train frontman plays Jackson in the film, which was inspired by his band’s album of the same name.
Movie: Christmas in Tune
Character: Georgia Winter
McEntire aptly starred as a country music star in this Lifetime film.
Billy Ray Cyrus
Movie: Christmas in Canaan
Character: Daniel Burton
Cyrus plays a widowed farmer living through the civil rights movement.
Movie: The Twelve Trees of Christmas
A woman and her friends participate in a neighborhood Christmas tree contest in this film, in which Spice Girls alum Mel B plays a famous designer.
Movie: Dashing Through the Snow
Character: Eddie Garrick
Ludacris’ character meets a mysterious red-suited man named Nick while taking his daughter to work with him.
Movie: A Family Christmas Gift
The soul legend helps her fictional niece Amber plan a fundraising Christmas Concert.
Movie: It’s Christmas, Eve
The crossover country star plays an interim school principal who must cut the music program — which just so happens to be taught by a handsome neighbor.
Movie: A Christmas Treasure
Sparks can’t decide whether she should return to New York City to pursue her writing career in this Hallmark movie.
Queen Latifah, LL Cool J & Chloe x Halle
Movie: Last Holiday
Character: Queen Latifah stars as Georgia Byrd and LL Cool J plays her love interest, Sean Matthews in this ’00s rom-com. Chloe and Halle Bailey are also billed on IMDb as playing Angie and Tina, respectively, back when they were just eight and six years old!
Jennifer Hudson & Mary J. Blige
Movie: Black Nativity
Character: J-Hud stars as a struggling mother named Naima in this musical drama, while Mary J. Blige plays an angel.
Movie: The Preacher’s Wife
Character: Julia Biggs
As the title suggests, Houston plays a golden-voiced preacher’s wife whose family is visited by an angel.
Movie: A Christmas Melody
The “All I Want For Christmas” vocalist both directed and starred in this Hallmark movie about new beginnings and holiday magic.