Country music superstar Trace Adkins has branched out over the past few years into other creative endeavors. He achieved TV stardom on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, he’s written a book on his conservative views, A Personal Stand: Observations and Opinions from a Freethinking Roughneck, and now he has a featured role in the new movie The Lincoln Lawyer as Eddie Vogel, the leader of a motorcycle gang who is a client of defense attorney Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey).
You’re a real renaissance man, doing Celebrity Apprentice, acting in movies, writing books, singing songs.
I’ve got a lot of kids to put through college. It’s as simple as that.
What is it that appeals to you about acting and what attracted you to the role of Eddie?
I liked being put in situations where I’m out of my comfort zone, something that challenges me. Acting certainly does that. And I enjoy doing it. I get a kick out of it, that rush that comes from being afraid that people are going to discover that you have no idea what you’re doing is always exhilarating.
How did you get this? Did they come to you?
No. I read for it. My agent out here at CAA, when a part comes along and she thinks it’s something that I would be suited for she gives me a call and I’ll come out and read for it. I’ve read for a lot of stuff and finally something came along. When I got to the set the first day, the director, Brad Furman, came to me and he said, ‘You got this part based on your audition. I had no idea who you were.’
Does that make you feel good or bad?
That kind of stung a little bit. I thought that I was a bigger deal than that, but at the same time it was flattering to know that I legitimately won the part.
What was it like working with Matthew McConaughey? Were you a fan of his already?
Yeah, but not that Surfer Dude movie! I think he would acknowledge that that was a mistake. I’ve been a fan of his work. I met him once at an Academy of Country Music Awards show. He was there presenting an award and I handed him my new CD that night, because there was a song on there that had his name in it. I referenced him in a song.
Then months later I read for this part and I got the thing and the first thing he said to me when I saw him was, ‘You mispronounced my name in that song.’ It was an E rhyme, so I said McConaughee and he didn’t like that.
You’re not the first guy I think of when I think of a Valley motorcycle gang leader, drug dealer and all around intimidating dude. What was it about this dude that spoke to you and connected back to your own life?
I kind of think of myself as a cowboy in spirit even if I don’t ride to work on a horse everyday. Guys that are in motorcycle clubs to me are kind of modern cowboys. It’s not a real stretch. They live by a certain code and so do I. I can identify with those guys. I’ve run with a pretty rough crowd in my life. I know ‘Eddie.’
Have you encountered the Hell’s Angels types as fans at your shows, maybe flagging you down as they pass your tour bus?
Yeah. I think there’s a healthy respect between myself and that community. Like I said, there’s a code that they live by and they might not always be within the bounds of the law, but they still do live by a certain code. So we get along all right.
Do you feel comfortable on sets now?
I was pretty comfortable. Matthew went out of his way to make me feel welcome and comfortable and he rehearsed the scenes with me and he didn’t have to do that. I really appreciated him doing that. The only time I was really uncomfortable, is the very first time that you see me in the movie.
I come up beside the car and I motion for him to pull over and it looks like I’m right beside the car and I’m not, because there’s a trailer sticking out beside the car this far. They said, ‘You have to be right on the trailer so that it looks right.’ So that was the only part. My butt was puckered up!
How seriously do you want to pursue acting because there have been a lot of country stars that have had pretty decent acting careers?
I enjoy it. I’m not about to walk away from my music career. I’m no trained actor. I’m not Phillip Seymour Hoffman or Johnny Depp. I’m probably not going to play a gay hairdresser, but if there’s a character that I think I can identify with and pull off then I’ll try to do it. To steal an old Clint Eastwood line, a man has got to know his limitations. I hope that I know mine.
Was it harder than being yourself for Celebrity Apprentice?
That was hard. I’ve often said in describing what that experience was like is that it was an exercise in restraint everyday, just to keep from slapping somebody.
Well, I told Piers [Morgan] one night, ‘If this was the real thing I would [slap you],’ and he said, ‘I know.’ He had heard that so many times it was water off a duck’s back.
Have you been interviewed by him since?
I have not. I challenged him because when he kicked off his little CNN gig he said, ‘I’m going to do the dangerous interviews.’ I sent him a message. ‘Oh, yeah?’