The history of country stars plying the acting craft is a mixed one. Memorable low point: when a critic deemed Glen Campell in ‘True Grit’ the ideal cowboy to chase a wooden Indian. Memorable high point…Well, here are our Top Ten Country-to-Hollywood Crossover Stars.
Tim McGraw. Hailed by critics for his solid performance supporting Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock in ‘The Blind Side,’ he now has ‘Love Don’t Let Me Down’ with Gwyneth Paltrow and Leighton Meester in the can. With past credits including ‘Friday Night Lights,’ ‘Flicka,’ ‘The Kingdom’ and ‘Four Christmases,’ he’s got a great career going not counting his music. But, by the way, where’s his wife’s acting career these days? Since getting stung with some nasty reviews in 2004’s ‘Stepford Wives,’ Faith Hill’s been sticking to singing.
Reba McEntire. The energetic red-haired songstress proved her TV mettle with the 2001-2007 ‘Reba’ sitcom, sure, but before that she conquered Broadway with ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ and the big screen in the cult fave ‘Tremors,’ among other acting credits.
Dolly Parton. Icon. Legend. Superstar. One of America’s great songwriters. Yes, and she’s been a bona fide movie star — ‘9 to 5,’ ‘Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,’ ‘Steel Magnolias,’ etc. Nowadays, she’s known to Miley Cyrus’ fans as Aunt Dolly on ‘Hannah Montana.’
Billy Ray Cyrus. We can’t get too far away from ‘Hannah Montana’ without mentioning Miley’s achy breaky daddy. In addition to his own ‘Doc’ series, he’s racked up quite a few TV guest roles, telepics and movies, including the big screen ‘Mulholland Drive.’ Extra credit: ‘Dancing With the Stars.’
Dwight Yoakam. But let’s talk about real acting. ‘Sling Blade,’ anyone? Yoakam’s searing portrayal of an abusive alcoholic left moviegoers stunned. And it wasn’t a fluke. He really does have those chops, as he’s proven again and again, in films from ‘Panic Room’ to ‘Crank.’ He has ‘Provinces of Night’ hitting the festival circuit with Val Kilmer, Hillary Duff and Kris Kristofferson.
Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson’s ’70s-’80s reign as a movie star included a string of memorable films — ‘Blume in Love,’ ‘Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,’ ‘Vigilante Force,’ ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’ and ‘A Star is Born.’ Even in the high-profile failure ‘Heaven’s Gate,’ Kristofferson’s performance was singled out as good.
Willie Nelson. Okay, he’s always Willie Nelson, no matter what his character’s name is. But that hasn’t kept crowds from loving the unrepentant old pot-smoking outlaw in such fare as ‘The Electric Horseman,’ ‘Honeysuckle Rose,’ ‘Barbarosa,’ ‘Bones,’ ‘The Colbert Report’ or any of his other movie or TV acting gigs.
LeAnn Rimes. In addition to her Lifetime movie ‘Northern Lights’ providing her with a new real-life leading man, Eddie Cibrian, the made-for-television film showed she’s a credible thespian. She also starred along with Luke Perry in the comedy ‘Good Intentions’ and says it’s her intention to do more acting.
Randy Travis. A recurring role on ‘Touched by An Angel’ and dozens of parts on TV and in films (‘Young Guns,’ ‘Frank & Jesse,’ ‘The Shooter,’ ‘The Visitation’) put the affable, deep-voiced star on the list.
Taylor Swift. No, she hasn’t done much yet, but mark her name in the Most Promising category thanks to her guest starring stint on ‘CSI’ last year. The show’s viewership jumped by three million when the 20-year-old hot country It Girl was on portraying a murder victim. Then she showed up in ‘Valentine’ with then-boyfriend Taylor Lautner. Next, she’s playing Barbie Roberts in ‘Barbie, the Movie.’ What a doll.