They sing, they act -- but can they do both well? Check out how these six stars made both music and movies -- with mixed success.
The star: Mark Wahlberg, 31
The start: Looking at his name in lights now, we the people have long since forgiven (if not yet forgotten) Mark/Marky Wahlberg's cheesy history. Take the bad boy beginnings in Boston and the shirtless rapping hijinks with the Funky Bunch. The blood relation (via bro Donnie) to the now wince-worthy New Kids on the Block plus those cocky underwear ads. There is such a thing as redemption in Hollywood and Mark is living proof. Admiring his fancy big star duds these days, we can hardly remember what he looks like in a backwards baseball cap.
Crossing over: When his hip-hop gig played itself out in the early '90s, Mark made his first steps toward acting. There was the respectable turn as Private Tommy in the Danny DeVito dramedy Renaissance Man. We'll give him a thumbs up for that one. There was also the exercise video, Form ... Focus ... Fitness, the Marky Mark Workout. Thumbs down. But soon enough Mark hit his stride, flaunting a menacing appeal in thrillers like Fear and sporting more dramatic chops in flicks like Boogie Nights, Three Kings and The Perfect Storm.
High note: That breakthrough Boogie Nights star turn was dismissed by some critics as a fluke -- he was even described as a "flavor of the month." But Mark bit back with Three Kings in 1999.
Low note: Two bombs in 2001. Rock Star and Planet of the Apes miffed fans and critics with slow (and in Apes case, strange) plots.
Coming up: The Italian Job about an L.A. traffic jam masterminded by bank-robbing criminals. Mark is leader Charlie Crook; Edward Norton and Charlize Theron costar.
What he says: "A lot of talented actors still have to pay their bills. All that running around in my underwear put money in my pockets. I can focus on working in interesting movies without having to worry about supporting myself."
The star: Mandy Moore, 18
The start: True, we didn't give little Mandy much credit when she appeared on the pop scene a few years back. Known in her hometown of Orlando as "The Star Spangled Banner Girl," for her ubiquitous singing appearances at sporting events, Mandy entered MTV's heavy-rotation at 15 as another face in the Britney Clone Club (blonde hair: check, top 40 hit: check ...) along with Christina and Jessica. Truth be told, she just didn't ... stand out -- especially with that squeaky-clean lifestyle. But when she cut and dyed her hair brown we just had to take notice. Plus that "Candy" song's pretty catchy.
Crossing over: Mandy's first forays into acting started in 2000, with smaller roles as, for example, the voice of the Girl Cub in Dr. Doolittle 2 and as pretty villain Lana Thomas in the teen rags-to-riches movie, The Princess Diaries. It wasn't until the tearjerker A Walk to Remember, playing the dowdy minister's daughter with a heart of gold and baggy clothes that Mandy played the lead. The four-hanky film got mixed reviews (with the majority being negative), but scored with the teen set.
High note: While A Walk to Remember was no American Pie, Mandy did manage to raise a few eyebrows with her unexpected skills. Even the harsher critics had to acknowledge the girl could, sort of, act. Enough so to land more movie and recording projects, as well as her own MTV show (aptly titled The Mandy Moore Show) and a lucrative deal with cosmetic company Neutrogena.
Low note: If she's had one, we haven't seen it. No breakdowns in the tabloids or rumors of underage drinking and debauchery. She's not likely to hit Brit's überstar status, but if Mandy can be believed, that's not even her goal. Her self-described "multitasking" with acting and singing will, hopefully, gain her staying power like idol Bette Midler, who's not "the biggest megastar in the world, yet she's a household name, people respect her for what she does, and she's had longevity. And she's distinguished, she's respected, and she's not confused with anyone else."
Coming up: The romantic comedies Try Seventeen (with Elijah Wood) and How to Deal (alongside The West Wing's Allison Janney); the more dramatic Saved with Jena Malone, about a teen pregnancy in a Baptist high school; and Aurora Island with Kim Basinger and Joaquin Phoenix, as a handsome drifter who charms a mother and daughter duo in a Southern coastal town.
What she says: "Having this other career in music, it's made me work harder as an actress. It's made me more professional, it's made me just not underestimate anything. It keeps me on my toes and it makes me want to surpass people's expectations of my acting and my performance."
The star: Mariah Carey, 32
The start: At the tender age of 20 Mariah, a former salon stylist and waitress from New York, made her debut with the high-octane and octave single "Vision of Love" in 1990. Since then, she's evolved into the pillar of Adult Contemporary radio, cementing her place in music lore by having her songs spend more weeks (61) at number one in the Billboard charts than any other artist in history, beating out even the Beatles, with a paltry 59. She's also a staple sight at the supermarket checkout thanks to a rocky, short marriage with music exec Tommy Mottola and some severe ups and downs with fame.
Crossing over: Always ambitious and a diva in her own mind, if occasionally no one else's, Mariah's move to the big screen was really only a matter of time. After multiple TV music appearances and a bit part in the Renee Zellweger/Chris O'Donnell comedy, The Bachelor Mariah made the borderline biopic, Glitter about a struggling songstress who makes it big. Sadly, Glitter was very, very far from gold -- it tanked with critics and bombed at the box office. Salt for the wounds was Glitter's soundtrack, also a Mariah production, which did dismally in sales.
High notes: The literal ones. Mariah's pipes are famous for good reason. Even if the schmaltzy song "Hero" makes you squirm, you've got to admit the girl's got range. As far as acting goes, she won back a bit of pride as wily waitress Raychel in HBO's Mob chick flick, Wise Girls, costarring Mira Sorvina.
Low note: The one-two punch of Glitter's critical and commercial bungle and a high-profile dump by record company Virgin left Mariah reeling in 2002. She also showed up unannounced, ice cream cart and all, at the MTV studios, crashing Carson Daly's show TRL and prompting the host to tell the world: "Ladies and gentlemen, Mariah Carey has lost her mind."
Coming up: She's signed on for Sweet Science playing a female boxer's headstrong manager. Beyond that, Mariah's movie slate is, unsurprisingly, pretty empty. With her latest album, Charmbracelet (under new management) dominating the charts, the singer's single-minded again, promoting her new music and discussing her rediscovered sanity on prime time TV.
Reminiscing: "I know people are going to say, 'Oh she's doing a movie now, just because she's a singer she thinks she can do a movie and whatever.' But honestly, just the process of studying acting and working has helped me and completely enhanced my life. It has freed me in so many ways."
The star: Eminem, 30
The start: Like fellow white-boy-rapper-slash-actor Mark Wahlberg, Eminem (née Marshall Mathers) came of age on some mean city streets. Detroit certainly made him tough -- tough enough, even, to slam his mom in his lyrics as well as tick off the majority of the world's minorities. But look closer and that violent homophobic sexist thing seems like just an act -- Eminem even explained the shocking rants as doings by his alter ego, Slim Shady. He fooled us; giving proof positive the guy's got some dramatic skills.
Crossing over: Eminem had seen a lot of scripts come his way since first hitting it big, but few sparked interest. 8 Mile, penned by relative newbie Scott Silver, sounded more appealing, thanks to strong similarities to Eminem's own life (Detroit rapper hits it big, bearing scrapes and bruises from lower class living). When famed director Curtis Hanson (The Wonder Boys, L.A. Confidential) signed on, the project scored more credibility and Hollywood started to wonder if maybe this Eminem acting thing wasn't such a joke, after all. At the very least, we knew we'd get better big-screen hip hop than in House Party 2.
High note: The entire year of 2002, dubbed by some in entertainment as "The Year of Eminem." 8 Mile landed the biggest opening weekend for an R-rated film in Hollywood history and earned good reviews, to boot. Then the soundtrack KO'd the competition on the charts, piggybacking with the success of his other album, The Eminem Show. By year's end, Eminem held the record for the best single-week sales for an album and the best single-week sales for the 8 Mile soundtrack.
Low note: In 2001, Em pled no contest to weapon charges from 2000 right before his mom sued him for $12 million for defamation (she later settled for $25,000). And he had a nasty split with wife Kim (the two now share custody of daughter Hailie Jade).
Coming up: Perhaps now picky, Eminem has yet to choose another project.
What he says: "[Success] is f------g bananas. Scary s--t too, 'cause you can fall just as quick as you went to the top."
The star: Beyoncé Knowles, 21
The start: The members of her all-girl R&B group Destiny's Child have rotated, but Beyoncé's been a fixture at front and center. This perhaps because dad Matthew has always held the proverbial reigns as group manager while mom Tina makes the sparkly, sinful attire. Discovered in part by icon Whitney Houston, Destiny's Child hit platinum with their 1998 self-titled debut, thanks to tracks like "No, No, No" and "With Me." In 2001, the group announced an "indefinite hiatus" to leave the three girls free to pursue "individual projects." Some whispered that Beyoncé's newfound acting career was partly to blame for the split.
Crossing over: Unlike most who baby-step into moviedom with bit parts and voice-overs, Beyoncé busted onto the scene with a high-profile role in Mike Meyers's third spy spoof, Austin Powers in Goldmember. As Foxxy Cleopatra, Beyoncé shimmied, shimmered, sassed and kicked butt, à la blaxploitation bombshells like Pam Grier -- afro and all.
High note: Now. Free of the chains of Destiny's Child, Beyoncé's solo career is skyrocketing. In addition to her still simmering music and movie careers, she's landed deals with cosmetics giant L'Oreal and Pepsi (bumping out ex-sponsor Britney Spears, whose contract with the pop company was not renewed).
Low note: You have to scrounge to find a low point for Beyoncé, but Carmen, the 2001 MTV "hip-hopera," wasn't such a smashing success. Geared to showcase Beyoncé's singing and acting skills, the special was fairly well reviewed, but not so widely seen.
Coming up: The musical comedy The Fighting Temptations. Beyoncé plays a single mom jazz singer with Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. as a big-shot music executive who has to polish a Southern gospel choir before he can pocket a huge family inheritance.
What she says: "I was very nervous in the beginning. I felt like I was starting completely over -- doing something that I had no idea about. They would say technical terms and I'd be completely lost" (on the first days of filming Austin Powers).
The star: Britney Spears, 21
The start: Once but a precocious tyke in a tutu down in Louisiana, Britney Spears has belted her way to the top, entering the ranks of celebrity's elite with endorsement deals, Grammy and MTV awards and comely suitors. Plus a landfill full of paraphernalia, like Britney Barbies, calendars, pencil sharpeners, bobble heads ...
Crossing over: As legend has it, Spears was on an album tour when she sat down and dreamed up the sketchy outline for Crossroads her feature film debut of 2002. In it, she plays goody-goody Lucy, gal pal to snotty Kit and scrappy Mimi. The three embark on a cross-country road trip, picking up emotional baggage, a cute boy and dreams of fame along the way. While it can't be said that Spears played against type -- she's a cute blonde who sings, after all -- she didn't whither, either. Many were bracing for a flop but Crossroads fared well critically and commercially.
High note: 2002, January to June. With Crossroads a score at the box office, Britney signed onto another flick, opened her Manhattan restaurant Nyla and skipped beaming through VIP sections with beau and fellow star Justin Timberlake. To top it all off, she ranked numero uno in Forbes's famous list of most powerful celebrities.
Low note: 2002, July to November. In a sudden, stifling, string of bad press, Britney (1) got booed off a stage in Mexico (she reportedly decided to end a concert early due to weather conditions), (2) endured a messy break up with Justin (one wild rumor says she cheated on him with Ben Affleck), (3) pulled out of her poorly-rated, mismanaged restaurant, (4) fought yet another stalker in court, (5) lost her lucrative sponsor deal with Pepsi to Beyonc&ecute; Knowles and (6) landed in court again with shoe company Skechers USA over what she said is a breach of contract. What a difference one-half a year makes.
Coming up: The as-yet untitled, "Britney Spears NASCAR project" in which Brit plays the daughter of race car driver who uses her know-how to lure a retired pro back to the sport.
What she says: "When you're on camera, there's so much hurry up and wait. You're waiting around thinking, "I've got to get into character now." It's also cool because if you mess up you can do it all over again."