15 Surprising Side Projects of Famous People

A funny thing happens when someone becomes globally celebrated for being really good at something: They start thinking they’re really good at everything.
15 Surprising Side Projects of Famous People

A funny thing happens when someone becomes globally celebrated for being really good at something: They start thinking they’re really good at everything. Sometimes, they’re infuriatingly right, but fortunately, they’re sometimes hilariously wrong.

Scarlett Johanssen Recorded a Tom Waits Cover Album

Scarlett Johansson album

(Atco Records)

In 2007, she released Anywhere I Lay My Head, an entire album of Tom Waits covers (plus one original, which is somehow weirder). Despite featuring guest performances from famous friends -- like, David Bowie famous -- it was considerably less well-reviewed than her fellow Canadian’s foray into the goth side.

Madonna Writes Children’s Books

Plenty of parents tell their children that bullies are just jealous of them, but when Madonna’s daughter had trouble at school, she wrote a whole book about a group of fictional girls who were jealous of her barely fictional daughter, which definitely made everyone leave her alone. At least the proceeding series were bestsellers, so the publisher who took a chance on a woman who’d previously only written dirty coffee table books was duly rewarded.

Whoopi Goldberg Sold Medical Marijuana

Whoopi Goldberg

(David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons)

In 2016, Goldberg launched Whoopi & Maya, which sold cannabis products specifically for treating menstruation-related pain. Sadly, it folded in 2020, so you can no longer get your Whoopi Goldberg period weed.

Susan Sarandon Owns a Ping Pong Club Franchise

SPiN club sign

(Paul Sableman/Wikimedia Commons)

Proving that feigning interest in your boyfriend’s hobbies has no age limit, Sarandon started dating a filmmaker/ping pong enthusiast in 2009 and coincidentally happened to get really into ping pong around the same time, opening a series of ping pong clubs called SPiN. They’ve proven surprisingly popular, with seven locations across the country, and lasted much longer than the boyfriend, so good for her.

Lenny Kravitz Owns an Interior Design Firm

Lenny Kravitz

(Carlos Delgado/Wikimedia Commons)

In 2003, he opened Kravitz Design to renovate the homes and businesses of people who want their places to look like they smell like sweaty glitter. He designs furniture, too, so you could tell people “Lenny Kravitz made that for me” and technically be telling the truth.

Lucy Liu Showcased Art Under a Pseudonym for Years

Starting long before she was famous, in 1993, Liu exhibited her apparently impressive paintings and multimedia projects under the name Yu Ling until 2011. That was the same year she made Kung Fu Panda 2, so she had just completely stopped giving a fuck.

David Lynch Owns a Nightclub in Paris


(JohnCream/Wikimedia Commons)

Modeled after the club of the same name in his film Mulholland Drive, Lynch opened Silencio in 2011 for artists to showcase their work and everyone else to be in David Lynch’s nightclub. Unfortunately, it’s disappointingly unweird.

Mariah Carey Made a Grunge Album

Someone's Ugly Daughter

(Epic Records)

In the midst of her failing marriage and the pressures of pop stardom, Carey recorded an album called Someone’s Ugly Daughter. Her label wouldn’t let her release it under her own name or even with her own voice, so she sang backup to her former roommate, Clarissa Dane, and credited Dane’s band, Chick.

Jada Pinkett Smith Has a Metal Band

Jada Pinkett Smith with Wicked Wisdom

(Johnyc9/Wikimedia Commons)

Today, we mostly think of her as Will Smith’s wife and Facebook Watch’s crowning jewel, but in 2002, Pinkett Smith formed a nu metal band called Wicked Wisdom. They stopped playing around 2006 but were recently reunited by Pinkett Smith’s daughter for a Mother’s Day performance on Red Table Talk, because what every mother wants is a reminder that she used to be lady Fred Durst.

Sandra Bullock Owns a Bakery

Technically, Walton’s Fancy and Staple is a bakery/deli/flower shop/disappointingly not a staple store in Austin, Texas. The pastries are created by Bullock’s own sister, including something that is “a combination of a churro, a donut, and a snickerdoodle” that sounds both delicious and extremely Texas.

Steve Carell Owns a General Store

Carell’s family spends their summers in Marshfield, Massachusetts, so when the opportunity to buy the town’s general store came up, he decided to “preserve a little piece of history” because he has “spend entire seasons on different coasts” money. His sister-in-law runs the store, but he’s frequently around in the summers, so if you’re looking for something to do in Marshfield, Massachusetts, that’s probably the only thing.

Rupert Grint Bought an Ice Cream Truck

Rupert Grint

(John Griffiths/Wikimedia Commons)

In 2007, Rupert Grint was 19 years old and had way too much Harry Potter money for a 19-year-old, so he did a very 19-year-old thing and bought an ice cream truck. It turns out getting a license to sell ice cream is really complicated, though, so instead, he just drove around, handing out ice cream for free and making lots of British people think they’re hallucinating.

Alexandre Dumas Wrote a Cookbook

Though everyone else would disagree, the Three Musketeers and Count of Monte Cristo author considered his greatest work to be his cookbook. The 1,150-page doorstop is filled with food history, recollections of foodie moments in Dumas’s life, and even the occasional recipe.

Erykah Badu is a Doula

Erykah Badu

(Mika-photography/Wikimedia Commons)

She got her doula license in 2011, which makes sense, because surely no one can make you feel like you can do anything, including squeezing an entire person out of your genitals, like Erykah Badu. She’s helped deliver more than 40 babies since then, and yes, she’s heard your “Erykah Badoula” joke.

Top image: Atco Records

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