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VOICE OVER: Sophia Franklin WRITTEN BY: Jesse Singer
Committing to their craft, these actors played their own instruments. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the musical movie moments when playing an instrument wasn't acting. Our countdown includes “Walk the Line,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Begin Again,” and more!

#10: Keira Knightley “Begin Again” (2013)

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Prior to casting Keira Knightley, director John Carney had considered casting a musician in the lead female role. One thought he had was Adele who can play guitar and, as we all know, is an amazing vocalist. But in the end, instead of going with someone who had the musical abilities he cast a great actress who learned the music part for the role. Knightly didn’t play guitar and had never sung professionally previously, but she learned both for the part. And while Carney has said that he feels she “didn’t quite come out as a guitar-playing singer-songwriter,” you can make up your own mind, as it is really her singing and playing guitar in the film.

#9: Nicolas Cage “Captain Corelli's Mandolin” (2001)

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In 2001’s “Captain Corelli's Mandolin,” the mandolin of Captain Antonio Corelli plays a big role in the film. Not only does he play it for his men, but it is his musical talents that also help win over the beautiful Pelagia. With that much riding on an instrument, whoever got the part as Corelli would definitely need to come across as adept at the mandolin. While Nicolas Cage had never played it before, he got very serious about learning after being cast. And according to the man who taught him, Paul Englishby, “Cage actually played it... It was incredible… He really is very talented.”

#8: Miles Teller “Whiplash” (2014)

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While many actors on this list learned to play an instrument only once they were cast in the role, that wasn’t the case for Miles Teller. By the time Teller was cast as a first-year jazz drummer student in “Whiplash” in 2013 he’d been playing the drums for about a decade already. Having taught himself to play drums at 15 years old, Teller was already pretty adept at banging the skins. He did have to learn some specifics of jazz drumming and he did have a drum double for a few scenes. However, for the majority of the film, that’s Teller playing.

#7: Samuel L. Jackson “Black Snake Moan” (2006)

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In “Black Snake Moan,” Samuel L. Jackson’s character is a farmer and former blues guitarist who holds Christina Ricci’s character hostage in order to reform her from her sinful life. In one scene near the end of the film, Jackson breaks out the guitar and plays the Blind Lemon Jefferson song “Black Snake Moan” from which the movie gets its title. It’s a pretty gritty performance and one that Jackson mastered after lots of practice. And by lots, we mean 6-7 hours of practice every day for six months. It might not be 10,000 hours, but it was enough to make for an impressively believable performance.

#6: Ryan Gosling “La La Land” (2016)

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They say that practice makes perfect, and when it came to his piano playing in “La La Land,” Ryan Gosling had to be perfect - because there were no hand models used. The hands you see on the keys are all Gosling’s. To get his jazz musician character up to snuff on the piano, Gosling practiced tickling those ivories for four hours a day in the lead up to making the movie. And his ability didn’t just amaze us non-piano playing moviegoers either. The great John Legend was impressed, even asking Gosling if he’d ever played before, “Cuz you can't be this good right away.”

#5: Oscar Isaac “Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013)

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Oscar Isaac was pretty familiar with the guitar by the time he was cast as a struggling folk singer in the Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis.” In fact, he began playing guitar in high school and was also in a band. After high school he joined a ska punk band called The Blinking Underdogs - and even opened for Green Day. So, obviously he could play the guitar - and his musical abilities impressed the Coen Brothers. Issac even worked on, and studied the technique known as, Travis picking - a common technique used on acoustic, steel-string, guitars. Except for one song in the film, the music was also all performed live.

#4: Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon “Walk the Line” (2005)

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In some films it probably isn’t a big deal if the actor isn’t really playing the instrument and doubles are used for various shots as well. However, in a movie about one of the most popular and iconic singers of the 20th century, you gotta play for real. That is exactly what Joaquin Phoenix did as Johnny Cash, in 2005’s “Walk the Line.” Reese Witherspoon joined him there as his partner in love and music, June Carter. And just as Phoenix sings and plays all his own guitar in the film, Witherspoon did all of June Carter’s vocals and learned to rock the autoharp as well.

#3: Matt Damon & Jude Law “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999)

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As Tom Ripley, Matt Damon had many talents, but prior to filming, playing piano was not one of them. And as for Jude Law, he couldn’t play the saxophone prior to being cast as Dickie Greenleaf either. But that all changed for both men who practiced and learned to play their respective instruments for this great 1999 film. There isn’t a lot of instrument playing in the film, but when there is, that is really Law playing the sax. As for Damon’s piano playing, supposedly, while he was able to play the correct fingering of the notes, the sounds we actually hear in the film are played by someone else.

#2: Rachel Weisz “The Brothers Bloom” (2008)

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10 seconds! That is the total amount of time Rachel Weisz is seen playing instruments on screen in “The Brothers Bloom.” Weisz plays Penelope Stamp, a wealthy heiress with a whole lot of hobbies - five of which are instruments - more specifically - the piano, the accordion, the violin, the guitar and the banjo. She learnt them all well enough to play them and in one short montage scene she, to paraphrase Bon Jovi, rocks them all. She also learned to skateboard, ride a giraffe unicycle, rap and break dance - among other things.

#1: Adrien Brody “The Pianist” (2002)

If you’re going to star in a movie called “The Pianist” you better be able to convincingly play the piano - don’t you think? Well, director Roman Polanski sure did - as did his lead actor Adrien Brody. And so Brody practiced for hours each day in order to be able to truly inhabit the character of pianist and holocaust survivor, Władysław Szpilman. Yes, that is Brody playing the piano in the movie, but according to some, the close-ups were the hands of classical pianist Janusz Olejniczak. We also can’t confirm this, but there are sources that claim Brody’s playing was overdubbed by Olejniczak. But regardless, that is still Brody on the piano hitting all the right notes. Which instrument-playing actor surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments

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