By Bob Doerschuk
Country Music fans can testify to Tim McGraw’s ability to tell a story. Having won 11 CMA Awards, sold upwards of 40 million albums and lofted 31 singles to the top of the charts during the past 15 years, he is indisputably one of the industry’s top communicators. His 10th and latest Curb Records studio album, Southern Voice, peaked at No. 1 on the Country chart and No. 2 on the Top 200 in Billboard.
McGraw has also translated his ability to communicate through song to the silver screen, through a series of film appearances in the past six years that include “Friday Night Lights,” “Flicka,” “The Kingdom,” “Four Christmases” and “The Blind Side,” in which he co-starred with Sandra Bullock, whose performance earned her an Academy Award in 2010 for Best Actress in a Leading Role. His next big role is in “Country Strong,” in which he plays husband/manager to Gwyneth Paltrow, who portrays a Country artist trying to stage a comeback.
“One thing about music is that you have to be believable at all times,” McGraw said. “People have to really, sincerely feel your honesty when you’re singing to them. That’s true in acting to a certain extent, but it’s easier for a musician to try to act than it is for an actor to be a serious musician. Even if an actor is being sincere and honest, if they’re trying to play a musician, it’s hard to buy into that; people think they’re acting as a singer. But it’s hard either way. For a singer, the hard transition is that you’re so used to presenting yourself in a certain way, which is to be cool. That’s how you sell your music and your persona as a singer: You’re on … and you’re yourself. When you go to do a movie, a lot of times it’s quite the opposite: Your character is not cool. Nothing you do is cool. It’s a tough transition either way, but it’s very interesting, that’s for sure.”
Other differences distinguish cutting an album from mastering a film role, though in the end both processes lead toward the same goal of reaching the public.
“There’s actually less pressure with the movie,” McGraw said. “When you’re doing an album, you’re finding the songs, you’re in the studio recording, doing vocals and overdubs — it’s all fun. With a movie, once you start shooting, you’ve read the script, you know your character and you’ve done your research on what you want this guy to be. Now that we’ve started shooting, I’ve found my character, I know my lines when I show up on set and we spend the day creating the moments. It’s a lot of fun to create something that’s raw and real and that people can watch and believe.”