With apologies to fans of Trace Adkins, Waylon Jennings and Billy Bob Thornton (whose band the Boxmasters hit the scene well after his screen career was launched), here are our top 10 twangiest movie stars. Ever since the heyday of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, country stars have tried to broaden their base by gunning for movie stardom too. Those icons mostly passed their time roping, riding and locking away the bad guys. But times change. The latest chapter in this ongoing story comes courtesy of Tim McGraw, who adds to an already impressive film resume with a dramatic role alongside Sandra Bullock in 'The Blind Side.'
With apologies to fans of Trace Adkins, Waylon Jennings and Billy Bob Thornton (whose band the Boxmasters hit the scene well after his screen career was launched), here are our top 10 twangiest movie stars.
It doesn't matter what role you give him, because Willie's own persona dwarfs any character you could write for him. So calling him Buck Bonham in 'Honeysuckle Rose' doesn't change a thing -- Willie still sings, plays, romances the pretty girls (Dyan Cannon and Amy Irving) and gets to chew the fat with none other than the always entertaining Slim Pickens. Plus, this is the film that gave us the Willie standard 'On the Road Again.'
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Like Willie, Dolly in real life is bigger than any role. In 'Nine to Five,' she steals the show as Doralee, who endures constant harassment from her "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" of a boss. Her fantasy revenge sequence, where she ropes and hogties him, is a quintessential Dolly screen moment, even better than anything she did in 'Steel Magnolias' or 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.'
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Along with his wife, Faith Hill, McGraw is Nashville royalty, and Hollywood's getting to like him pretty well, too. After making a splash as obsessive football dad Charles Billingsley in 'Friday Night Lights,' Tim displayed a sensitive touch in front of the camera in 'Flicka' and 'The Kingdom.' So McGraw has a pretty decent side career going if that music thing ever peters out.
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Reed took his fast-talking, wisecracking good-old-boy bit to new heights as Burt Reynolds' sidekick Cledus Snow in the 'Smokey and the Bandit' films. But what else could we expect from the man who gave us 'She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)' and 'When You're Hot, You're Hot'? Plus being one of Nashville hottest pickers ever? No matter what he put his hand to, Jerry always got 'er done.
Talk about playing against type! When Yoakam decided to tackle the big screen, he tossed aside his good-guy character to play a creep in 'Sling Blade.' Plenty of moviegoers didn't even recognize the ne'er-do-well with a receding hairline as the tight-jeaned king of modern Bakersfield country. How mean was Dwight's Doyle? When Billy Bob Thornton took a shovel to his skull, you figured, "Yeah, that makes sense." That is, if you weren't thinking, "Mmmm, I like them French-fried potaters." Yoakam continued to play bad with roles in 'The Minus Man' and 'Panic Room' and segued into comedy with small parts in 'The Wedding Crashers' and 'Four Christmases.'
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On his records, Toby Keith has made a carer as a straight-talking man of the people. Among his wheelbarrow full of hits is his duet with Willie Nelson, 'Beer for My Horses.' Hmm, how would one exploit that success? I know, expand it into a film. With Willie Nelson. And play a straight-talking lawman who's a man of the people. You can't say Toby doesn't know his strengths.
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Long before her self-titled sitcom, long before she wowed Broadway in 'Annie Get Your Gun,' Reba practiced her rifle work in the kitschy sci-fi hit 'Tremors.' McEntire thoroughly enjoys herself as she makes the mutant burrowing creatures eat lead and, complete with an "UZI 4U" license plate, handles a shotgun as only a rodeo-raised Oklahoma gal can. You've got to admit, Reba always makes an impression.
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Billy Ray Cyrus
With his daughter Miley becoming a tween queen, it's easy to forget Billy Ray starred in the PAX TV show 'Doc.' (Though it's a lot tougher to forgive him for 'Achy Breaky Heart.') So not only did he turn in a likable performance in 'Hannah Montana: The Movie,' but he also got to romance Melora Hardin (which is exactly why guys go into music, by the way). But we're still wondering how the heck he wound up in 'Mulholland Drive.'
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During the country-music boom of the early '90s, the Texas legend took to the screen in 'Pure Country,' playing Dusty Chandler, a Garth Brooks-like star who walks away from the fireworks and glamour of the music biz to get back to his (and the music's) roots. Not a big stretch, for sure, but the two things Strait does well -- singing and looking handsome -- he does in spades.
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Besides matching her husband on the charts, Faith has two of the best scenes in the 2004 remake of 'The Stepford Wives.' First, she stars in the most, um, climactic scene this side of Meg Ryan, when her character screams out TMI about her husband's bedroom prowess. Second, she gets to do a totally comical short circuit during a square dance. You can be sure a lot of non-country fans said, "Yeah, I know how you feel, girl."
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