The closely-linked nature of careers that involve public performance is such that many musicians have taken a stab at becoming actors. Their stories range from the mega-successful (i.e. Will Smith) to the very short-lived (i.e. Britney Spears), and while many singer-to-actor transformations end up quickly proving to have been a bad idea, it's always interesting to see whether singing skills translate into acting skills.
Now fiery-haired English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is about to try his hand at screen acting in The Bastard Executioner, an upcoming FX historical drama from Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter. The show is set in 14th century Wales and stars newcomer Lee Jones as Wilkin Brattle, a formidable warrior who takes up a new career as an executioner after receiving divine inspiration.
According to THR, Sheeran will have a recurring role as a character called Sir Cormac, who is described as "an ambitious and deadly protégé of a high-ranking church elder." Sheeran and Sutter previously connected during the final season of Sons of Anarchy, with Sheeran recording a cover version of Foy Vance’s "Make It Rain" for the show.
Whether or not this counts as Sheeran's first 'acting' role is somewhat up for debate, as he previously played a version of himself in a guest spot on NBC sitcom Undateable, but it's fair to say the The Bastard Executioner will be a little more substantial. The show's first season will be 10 episodes long, with Sheeran appearing in multiple episodes.
Sheeran seems to be attracted to historical drama and fantasy, as he's confessed to being a big fan of HBO's Game of Thrones and wrote a song called "I See Fire" for the soundtrack of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. In the music industry Sheeran is already a huge success, with his 2014 album x selling over 9 million copies worldwide and music streaming service Spotify naming him the most-streamed artist of last year.
It's probably best that Sheeran flexes his acting muscles for the first time in TV guest roles, rather than as the lead in a feature film (though an Ed Sheeran version of Crossroads would certainly be interesting to watch), and his appearance will probably have a few extra people tuning into The Bastard Executioner when it airs. The show also stars Stephen Moyer, Katey Sagal, Flora Spencer-Longhurt, Sam Spruell and Sutter himself, and is currently filming on location in the UK.
The Bastard Executioner premieres this fall on FX.