TIM McGRAW on 'FLICKA' Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
October 13, 2006
In the family film Flicka, a headstrong teenage girl (Alison Lohman) who seems to be perpetually at odds with her parents (Maria Bello and Tim McGraw) finds a kindred spirit in a wild mustang that she discovers on her family's ranch. But when her father sells the fiery and uncontrollable horse to a rodeo, she takes it upon herself to embark on a mission to liberate her four-legged friend.
In this interview, country music star Tim McGraw talks about working on the movie as a lead actor and helping to put together the film's soundtrack.
MEDIA: How would you describe your character and the problems he faces?
TIM: He's running a huge ranch on a low budget, so he's trying to run a business at the same time he's trying to take care of his family. And certainly when you watch the movie, you know who's really in charge: the wife. But he's trying his best. I think more of his struggle comes with the ranch, and the way it's going. And at the end, I think he starts to realize that it's not the most important thing in the world.
How did this father figure character compare to your Friday Night Lights role?
This was harder than being the dad in Friday Night Lights. You had to get inside your head and be more reserved. In Friday Night Lights, I tried to be a little more complex--instead of being just wild and crazy and just running off at the mouth, you had to see something in this guy's eyes that made you think that there was some trouble there, and not just this stupid guy. [But] in this character, you really had to see the struggle he was having with being a disciplinarian and trying to run a ranch, and still having a really soft heart and soft place that he couldn't let go of too much. So it was two different characters, but this was harder. Not to mention it was more time on the screen and more lines and stuff like that. But there was a lot of different aspects. It was a more complex character all the way around.
Are you planning to get more involved in movies as an actor?
Oh, I'm not going to give up my day job. Plus, I've got to be very selective. I'm not going to be able to go out and do a whole bunch of movies, because I've got to take care of other business. But it's nice to be able to sit back and pick and choose things that you like and interest you.
Did you take on acting lessons at any point?
I guess I [wouldn't] call them lessons--just reading through scripts with a lady who's great, and just a couple times. I'm scared of lessons in anything. I mean, I never took any guitar lessons or any singing lessons or anything like that. I'm just scared of them. But they're probably great. I could use them, I'm sure. [laughs]
Were you comfortable with horses before taking on this role?
I grew up on a horse, yeah. So I've always rode horses and roped and rode high school rodeo and stuff like that. I can't remember not being able to ride. Growing up, I had horses my whole life.
Did you find any similarities between your emotional scenes in Flicka and your singing?
There's a lot of similarities to singing. All the talk they do today about "anybody can go in and sing and make a record"...Yeah, I guess anybody can. But to me, there's a lot of people that can tell you how they feel when they're singing a song, but the real artist is somebody telling you how you feel--you know, somebody who can reach through a radio, and you go, "I've been wanting to say that for years, and he just said it." I mean, if somebody can tell you how you feel, then they're really doing what they were meant to do.
How involved were you with the film's soundtrack? Did you choose the songs?
Some of them. I wrote a song for this, and my cousin (my mom's sister's daughter) Catherine Raney is singing "All The Pretty [Little] Ponies" on it. And then a couple friends of mine, the Warren Brothers, who write for my publishing company...And Holly Williams, who's a good friend of mine...And my band, the Dancehall Doctors...There's a lot of my family [on the soundtrack], I guess.
You have one scene with a limping horse. Is that a special effect, or can you actually train a horse to do that on cue?
Oh, they train horses to do anything. That was just a horse that they trained to limp. Yeah, these guys are good.
In another scene, your character finishes an argument by decreeing there will be no further discussion, then cranking up the radio. Has that tactic ever actually worked for you?
No. It doesn't work at all.
Do you have a farm of your own?
What's on it?
Horses and dogs. [laughs] And fishing ponds and bird hunting. We bird hunt a lot, pheasant and quail.