Dolly Parton is undoubtedly one of the biggest country stars of all time, and she’s recently proven that she’s not just limited to one genre with the popularity of her latest single, a cover of “Let It Be” with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
But music isn’t the only thing she’s dipped her toes into. She’s always been dedicated to charity work, and she has a remarkably successful business in her Dollywood theme park.
Another thing Parton has found success in is, of course, acting.
DOLLY PARTON DEBUTS ‘LET IT BE,’ REUNITING PAUL MCCARTNEY AND RINGO STARR IN NEW RECORDING
Dolly Parton has success not only in country music but also in Hollywood. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)
However, she’s not the only country star to wade into the waters of Hollywood stardom. Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire and relative newcomer Lainey Wilson have all balanced music and acting.
Fox News Digital takes a look at these singers and more who have gone on to find success on the silver screen.
Sixteen years after making the move from her home in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee to Nashville to start her music career, Parton found herself starring alongside legendary actresses Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in the 1980s film “9 to 5.”
Dolly Parton made her film debut in “9 to 5” with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. (20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)
Fonda, who also produced the movie, handpicked both of her costars, telling Stephen Colbert in a 2017 interview that she made the choice to offer Parton the role after she heard one of her songs on the radio.
“I thought, ‘Oh my, imagine if Dolly Parton was playing secretary,’” she recalled before joking, “I mean, you couldn’t see her hands.”
She reached out to Parton, who only agreed to act in the movie if she could write a song to go with it, and she did. The song “9 to 5” was incredibly successful, winning two Grammy Awards, one for best country song and one for best female country vocal performance. It was also nominated for an Oscar for best original song.
Two years later, she took her talents to Hollywood once again, starring in the film adaption of the Broadway musical “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” She and Burt Reynolds led the movie musical, but the experience wasn’t a good one for her. In a 1984 conversation with Interview, she said, “Well, ‘Whorehouse’ was not fun. I loved Burt Reynolds and Jim Nabors and all those people, but at that particular time, I was ill, and coming from a Broadway play, we already had everything against us.”
Dolly Parton starred in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” (Universal Studios/YouTube)
In the same interview, she had a message for her country fans who may have been concerned that she was leaving music behind for Hollywood: “I’m not leaving the country, I’m just taking it with me.”
The rest of the ’80s saw Parton starring in “Rhinestone” with Sylvester Stallone, “Steel Magnolias” with Shirley MacLaine and Sally Field, as well as a holiday film with Lee Majors called “A Smoky Mountain Christmas.”
DOLLY PARTON HONORS HER ROOTS: ‘COUNTRY MUSIC IS MY GUT, MY HEART, MY SOUL’
Although she has several more acting credits to her name, she slowed down after that string of successful movies. In the ’90s, she played herself in massively popular TV shows like “The Simpsons” and “Designing Women,” and in 2012, she took another big film role with “Joyful Noise,” which also starred Queen Latifah. Her most recent character role was in 2022 – she appeared in an episode of “Grace and Frankie” with past co-stars Fonda and Tomlin.
Lily Tomlin, left, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda are shown at the 2017 Emmy Awards. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
In a 2021 episode of the “Beyond the Influence” podcast, Parton explained her acting technique, admitting, “If you look real close, I only take parts that is really close to my own personality. I’ve never yet done one of those scenes that’s too far-fetched. … I always take things that I think I can pull off.”
Tim McGraw became a household name in the ’90s after becoming a breakout country star with songs like “Indian Outlaw” and “Don’t Take the Girl,” but years after achieving fame, he decided to pursue a different creative outlet.
He made his acting debut in 2004 in a movie called “Black Cloud,” and while that may not sound familiar, that same year he had his first big role in the blockbuster hit “Friday Night Lights.”
Tim McGraw and wife Faith Hill attend the world premiere of “Friday Night Lights.” (J. Merritt/FilmMagic)
In a 2020 conversation during an Instagram Live with Rita Wilson, McGraw explained that after he made it big in country music, he’d been asked to move into acting as well, but he had reservations about it.
“It’s tough to go from one to the other in a lot of ways because it’s hard for a lot of people to buy into it sometimes,” he said. “For me, when I first started in music and had some success, people wanted me to do film,s and I didn’t want to do it for a long time because I was scared – you know, playing music is all about being cool.”
Tim McGraw performs in 2022. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
“The transition was always tough because I was scared that I would sort of blow my cover as a musician if I tried to step into something, and certainly, if I didn’t do well at it, it could be something that could hurt my music career, which is what my passion was at the time and still is,” he continued. “But then I read the script of ‘Friday Night Lights’ – it had been sitting around for a while and I put off reading it, but then I read it and identified with that character so readily. It was instant to me that I could play that guy. I knew that guy; I knew that guy from where I grew up. There was a group of people who created that guy in my head. But I knew him and I knew I could play him, and from that point on, I was on fire for that role. I had to do it.”
TIM MCGRAW REVEALS THE ONE THING HE WON’T DO AT HIS CONCERTS: ‘I’M SCARED TO DEATH’
Like Parton, after McGraw began acting, he appeared in a string of notable movies. He was in the family film “Flicka” in 2006 and “The Kingdom,” an action film starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner, in 2007. In 2008, he made an appearance with another country star, Dwight Yoakam, in “Four Christmases,” a holiday movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn.
2009 brought one of his most memorable roles: The role of Sean Touhy in his second critically acclaimed sports movie, “The Blind Side.”
Tim McGraw poses with Quinton Aaron and Sandra Bullock who starred with him in “The Blind Side.” (Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images)
As he explained to NJ.com at the time, he nearly passed on the part because he “didn’t want to do a movie about football” after already having done “Friday Night Lights.”
“I really didn’t want to do a father kind of deal because I’d just done ‘Flicka,'” he added. “The script was in a stack I had to read on vacation. I didn’t think I would be interested, and I read it, and it stuck with me. I knew Sandra was going to do it and John Lee Hancock was going to direct and all the reasons to do it started adding up and the reasons not to do it didn’t make sense anymore.”
He went on to star in “Country Strong” opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in 2012 and “Tomorrowland” with George Clooney in 2015.
Garrett Hedlund, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw and Leighton Meester attend a screening for “Country Strong” in 2010. (Lester Cohen/WireImage)
More recently, he appeared on an episode of the hit show “Yellowstone,” and in turn, he got his own spinoff with “1883,” which also features his wife, Faith Hill, and Sam Elliot.
On a podcast called “The Bobby Bones Show” this year, McGraw talked about his acting process, saying, “I’m pretty calm as long as I know my words. As long as I know the script, then I feel pretty calm about it, but I have to say when you’re doing a scene with Sam Elliott and you have to stare him down and sort of have a confrontation with him, that gets a little nerve-wracking because he can stare you down pretty good.”
Lainey Wilson is relatively new to the country music scene. Although she moved to Nashville in 2011 to begin her career, it wasn’t until 2019 that she had her big breakthrough with her EP “Redneck Hollywood.” This was also the year when she began touring with superstar Morgan Wallen and her music began being featured in “Yellowstone,” which was on its second season at the time.
Lainey Wilson has been in four episodes of “Yellowstone.” (Gilbert Flores/Penske Media)
Her songs appeared on the season two premiere and in two episodes in the third season. By the time the fifth season rolled around, Wilson had been offered an acting role on the show.
In an interview with the New York Post last year, she explained how she came to be on the show, saying, “I met [‘Yellowstone’ creator and executive producer] Taylor Sheridan after he put one of my songs in the show. He invited me out to Vegas to play a horse-riding competition. And we really kind of bonded over horses.”
‘YELLOWSTONE’ STAR LAINEY WILSON SAYS ENDING OF HIT SHOW IS ‘GONNA BE MONEY’
She told USA Today that Sheridan had specifically created the role of Abby for her, and he’d told her that he wanted her “to pretty much be myself, which is a dream come true, especially when you’re trying to introduce yourself to people.”
As of now, “Yellowstone” is Lainey Wilson’s only acting credit. (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images for CMT)
Wilson admitted, “I didn’t really know what I was doing, but you go in there head-first. I was going to give people their money’s worth. I told my mommy and daddy, ‘You might not want to watch this show.’ I don’t want to be on their prayer list.”
While she doesn’t have any other acting credits to her name just yet, she’s said she’d be open to appearing in a spinoff of the hit show.
Reba McEntire has been singing for most of her life, having been taught by her mother when she was a young girl. She landed her first record contract when she was just 20, and she had steady success until her real breakthrough in the early ’80s with songs like “You’re the First Time I Thought About Leaving” and “How Blue.”
Reba McEntire performs on “The Tonight Show” in 1981. (Gene Arias/NBC via Getty Images)
After climbing to the top of the country charts again and again throughout the rest of the ’80s, in 1990 she made her acting debut in “Tremors,” a horror comedy. According to her website, she made the decision to give Hollywood a shot “after getting a taste of acting from her music videos.”
She worked on a handful of TV movies, appeared on an episode of “Frasier” and in 1994’s “Little Rascals.”
REBA MCENTIRE REVEALS WHY SHE PERFORMED IN ‘BEER JOINTS AND HONKY TONKS’ AT 13 YEARS OLD
2001 was a huge year for McEntire’s acting career. In addition to the release of the star-studded film “One Night at McCool’s,” the year also saw her Broadway debut as Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun.” She did the musical from February to June that year, and when she was done, she moved to Los Angeles to begin filming her own sitcom, “Reba.”
Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire appear on “Reba.” (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
The show ran for six seasons and continues to experience success in syndication as well as online – a popular social media trend over the past couple of years involves singing the theme song of the show, “I’m a Survivor,” over funny videos.
In the years since, she’s done a number of TV appearances, including another show of her own, 2012’s “Malibu Country.”
In a 2022 interview with ABC to promote her role on the series “Big Skies,” her most recent acting job, she spoke about making the transition to doing movies and TV from music, saying, “When I’m singing the song, I’m acting out the song. So, it came natural for me.”
Randy Travis is responsible for some of the most memorable country songs in recent memory. With platinum hits like “Forever and Ever, Amen” and “Deeper Than the Holler,” Travis was remarkably successful in his music career. When it comes to singers turned actors, his acting career is pretty remarkable as well.
Randy Travis plays guitar as he performs onstage at an unspecified nightclub in Dallas on Dec. 13, 1986. (Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
In 1988, the same year he had three No. 1 hits on the country charts, he got his first acting gig – an uncredited role in “Young Guns.” A few years later, he took a year off from music to pursue acting.
As he explained in a 1994 interview with Country Weekly, he had gotten tired of touring and decided to pursue his longtime dream of being in a Western movie.
RANDY TRAVIS CELEBRATED FOR LEGENDARY CAREER AFTER HEALTH STRUGGLES: ‘WHAT COUNTRY MUSIC IS ALL ABOUT’
“Anybody, regardless of where they are, where they’re from or what they do for a living, dreams of being a cowboy once in a while,” he explained. “But music is my first love, and it always will be.”
Randy Travis performs at the funeral service for George Jones at The Grand Ole Opry on May 2, 2013, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Nancy Jones)
During that year off, he filmed five movies: “At Risk,” what he called an “artsy-type movie,” “Frank and Jesse,” “The Legend of O.B. Taggart,” “Deadman’s Revenge” and “Maverick,” which showed the singer in a cameo role that seemed to be left out of the final cut.
Travis said that when it came to any future movie roles, “It has to be something I like. … I want to be a competent actor and be offered some good parts and some really good movies that the public receives well. I don’t see myself winning any awards. I went after the acting because it’s something I want to do. I kind of wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.”
After his initial year-long delve into acting, he went on to appear in many more movies, including “Black Dog” with Patrick Swayze and “The Rainmaker” with Matt Damon. He continued acting steadily until a stroke in 2013 left him with limited speech.
Billy Ray Cyrus
Billy Ray Cyrus grew up in poverty and struggled so much in his early days of trying to make it in the music business that he had to live in his car for a time. Despite his hardships, he kept pushing, and in 1992 he released his first and most successful single, “Achy Breaky Heart.”
Soon after, he found himself in a situation in which two women were both pregnant with his children at the same time. He married one of them, Tish Cyrus, and they went on to have three children together. He made the decision to stop touring to focus on his new family, and he began to be considered a one-hit wonder, even though he continued recording music.
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT NEWSLETTER
His father encouraged him to pursue acting, and that’s just what he did. In 2001, he appeared in the film “Mulholland Drive,” and that same year he got his own series, “Doc,” which ran for four seasons. Two years after that show ended, he began starring in another long-running show, “Hannah Montana,” a Disney show in which he played the father to his real-life daughter, Miley Cyrus.
Billy Ray Cyrus acts on “Hannah Montana” with Miley Cyrus and Emily Osment. (Craig Sjodin/Disney Channel via Getty Images)
In a 2016 interview with the Associated Press, he expressed some regrets about making the move to acting, saying, “I had traded my music career in for being an actor. And I remember thinking about Elvis singing ‘Caught in a trap, I can’t walk out.’ And I thought, ‘Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.’”
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
He admitted that he’d vowed to stop acting more than once, but added, “As soon as you swear you’re never going to do something, you’re probably going to do it.”