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VOICE OVER: Sophia Franklin WRITTEN BY: Jesse Singer
The actor got top billing, but someone else provided their singing voice. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for those musical movie moments when the voice you hear doesn't actually belong to the person singing on screen. Our countdown includes "Ray," "West Side Story," "My Fair Lady," and more!

#10: “High School Musical” (2006) Zac Efron

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This might shock and sadden a number of former tween hearts, but it’s true - Zac Efron basically didn’t sing in “High School Musical.” While he’s been quoted as saying that it was a surprise to him when, after everything was recorded, his voice was not on them, the reason appears to be related to his vocal range. Apparently, the role of Troy Bolton was written for a tenor, while Efron is a baritone and couldn’t quite get the vocals right. So the producers had Drew Seeley voice almost all of Zac’s singing parts in the film. And before you totally freak out, don’t worry, yes it’s Efron singing in “High School Musical 2,” “High School Musical 3,” “Hairspray,” and “The Greatest Showman.”

#9: “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000) George Clooney

If you assumed that George Clooney could sing because his Aunt was the great Rosemary Clooney, you’d be very wrong. But don’t feel bad, the producers and directors of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” made the same assumption when they asked him to sing in that film. Even Clooney himself thought he had at least a little talent in that realm. However, once they heard the recording they knew they were wrong. And thankfully, Clooney - after hearing it played back to him - had no false perceptions about his singing abilities, and was completely fine with lip-synching. So in stepped bluegrass musician and singer Dan Tyminski.

#8: “My Fair Lady” (1964) Audrey Hepburn

While Henry Higgins was able to “improve” Eliza Doolittle’s voice in “My Fair Lady,” the only way the producers found to help Audrey Hepburn sing better was to get someone else to do it for her. And that person was Marni Nixon, a soprano with a beautiful voice who ghost sang for actresses in musicals on multiple occasions. However, it isn’t all Nixon on the soundtrack. For the “Just You Wait” number, the filmmakers used Hepburn for the, shall we say, harsh bits - whereas it’s all Nixon in the more musically demanding bridge.

#7: “The Sound of Music” (1965) Christopher Plummer

1965’s “The Sound of Music” gave us many things: great songs, great performances and great scenery. But one thing “The Sound of Music” didn’t give us was the sound of Christopher Plummer’s singing voice. Well, actually it did, but only in very brief moments. You see, as Plummer told NPR back in 2012, while his voice was used for the entrances and exits of the songs, the rest of the singing was the voice of a man named Bill Lee. While you probably don’t know his name, you might recognize his singing from numerous other films - including the awesome baritone line from Shere Khan in “The Jungle Book.” Luckily, with the release of the deluxe edition of the soundtrack in 2023, we got the chance to hear the songs with Plummer’s own pipes. He’s not bad!

#6: “West Side Story” (1961) Natalie Wood

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The Story of West Side Story: From Stage to Screen

You may not have ever heard the name Marni Nixon before today - and yet you are about to hear it again on this list. Just like Nixon was used to make Audrey Hepburn’s singing sound great, so too was she chosen to improve the melodic sounds coming out of Natalie Wood’s mouth in “West Side Story.” Wood’s contract provided for her being given a chance to sing the songs herself, but it didn’t take long for the music supervisors on the film to make the decision to go with Nixon. Although Wood’s singing did make the final cut on the reprise of “Somewhere.”

#5: “La Vie en Rose” (2007) Marion Cotillard

It’s true that Marion Cotillard took singing lessons for her role as the legendary French singer Édith Piaf. But it’s also true that she didn’t sing in the movie. And she knew that was going to be the case when she was taking the lessons. However, she took them anyway in order to be sure she could properly move her lips and tongue and mouth to make it uber-believable that she was the one singing. And it worked. Her performance - including the lip-synching scenes - all came together perfectly and earned Cotillard the first ever Best Actress Oscar given for a French-language performance.

#4: “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (2022) Naomi Ackie

If you saw the 2022 biopic “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and was amazed at how similar actress Naomi Ackie’s singing voice was to that of Whitney Houston, here’s why. The voice doing most of the singing was Whitney Houston! Ackie has a great voice and a vocal range similar to Whitney, but her actual singing was only used sporadically throughout the film, to fill little moments. As she explained to PEOPLE, “that's why the beginning singing in the gospel choirs was me and then you hear this change so that we know it's Whitney.” In 2015, for the Lifetime movie “Whitney,” lead actress Yaya DaCosta also didn’t sing the songs. But instead of Houston, R&B singer Deborah Cox provided the vocals.

#3: “Ray” (2004) Jamie Foxx

Given that he’s released five albums, been nominated for 10 Grammys and even won one, we all know that Jaimie Foxx can sing. But that didn’t matter on the set of the Ray Charles biopic, “Ray.” Because as director Taylor Hackford said about the music in his film, “I had to have Ray Charles singing. These are masterpieces.” And what Hackford wanted, he got - which meant Foxx’s well-deserved Academy Award winning performance involved lip-synching to Ray Charles recordings. However, while the singing was Charles, the piano playing - that was all Foxx.

#2: “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018) Rami Malek

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There’s a guy out there whose singing voice is amazingly almost identical to that of the late, great Freddie Mercury. His name is Marc Martel. While Rami Malek’s Oscar-winning performance in “Bohemian Rhapsody” saw him brilliantly inhabit Mercury in his accent, movements and persona - Malek just couldn’t get the singing voice right. But Canadian Christian rock singer, Martel sounds eerily like Mercury. So, when you see Malek singing in the movie it’s mostly one of two voices you’re hearing - neither of which is usually Malek. The filmmakers used both Queen recordings and Martel versions throughout the film, with a little Malek in there occasionally.

#1: “Selena” (1997) Jennifer Lopez

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Top 10 Things Selena (1997) Got Factually Right & Wrong

You’d think that one of the reasons one would cast Jennifer Lopez in a musical biopic would be to have her sing. However, while that sounds like an obvious statement today, we have to remember that “Selena” came out in 1997. And back in 1997, Lopez wasn’t known for her vocal talents. In fact, her first album, “On the 6” wasn’t released until 1999. And it was partly her experience making “Selena” that inspired her to dive into music in a way she hadn’t before. All that being said, Lopez is lip-synching to Selena’s voice in the movie. Which of these non-singing performances surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments.

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