Dolly Parton Explains How She Chooses Her Movie Roles

Dolly Parton made her film debut in 1980 with 9 to 5, playing a secretary named Doralee. She's appeared in a number of movies since, and she told Tim McGraw on Beyond The Influence Radio with Tim McGraw on Apple Music Country that she always makes sure to take roles that she can relate to.

"I only take parts that are pretty close to my own personality. I have never yet done one of those scenes that was that far-fetched," she said, explaining that when she appeared in 1989's Steel Magnolias, she played a beautician, a career Parton says she would have had, were she not a musician. "So I understood that," she explained. "I've always done my own hair. I used to do my mom's hair, my sister's hair. So every part I take, I have to be able to do that, and when I read that part for 9 to 5 it was a girl from Texas and she was so much like me anyway. So that was not that far-fetched, even The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Although I made a better whore than I did a secretary, it was still parts of my personality that I could relate to. I'll let God in them. There's showing my boobs and all that. So it was... so I always take things that I think I can pull off."

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Before she took her role in 9 to 5, Parton "had been asked a lot of times to be in the movies and I didn't think I was quite ready yet." "I also thought, well, if the right thing came along, I might be willing to do it because I was still building my music career at the time," she told McGraw, recalling that when she got the offer for 9 to 5 and saw that it starred Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, were "both so hot at the time," Parton thought, "Well, if there's any time to start, this would be now because if it's a big hit, then I can share in the glory of it. If it's a failure, I can blame it all on them and I'll walk away free."

The country icon added that she thought the project "was a good script" and she knew "it would be a wonderful thing for women and for the workplace." She only had one condition — that she would get to write the theme song. "My business mind started working also. I thought, 'I got to make this worth my while, not just to be in a movie with someone else,'" Parton recalled. "So that was part of my deal that I would write and sing the theme song. So that's what I did and it turned out to be a wonderful thing."