Dolly Parton Expands Her Colorful Career

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Dolly Parton‘s résumé simply never stops growing. At age 63, the prolific entertainer perhaps best described as an American treasure is delving into new territory, penning her first children’s book, ‘I Am a Rainbow,’ and writing all of the music for a Tony-nominated Broadway musical modeled after her movie ‘9 to 5.’

Dolly, dressed in what you might call Dolly-casual — a bright red sweater with subtle black beading, fitted black pants and sky-high heels — sat down with The Boot at buddy Reba McEntire‘s Starstruck Entertainment studios to chat about her new ventures. We also took a look back at the groundbreaking film that put her on the Hollywood map as well as a look forward to more stage and screen dreams.

You were already a huge country star when you got the part on ’9 to 5,’ but it was your very first acting gig. Do you think it was harder to prove yourself as an actress, given that you were already famous?

It was easier, because Jane Fonda was a huge star and so was Lily Tomlin. I thought I could hide behind them! [laughs] So if it’s a success, I’m one of the crowd. If it’s a failure, I’ll just blame it on them, because nobody was expecting anything from me! [laughs] But it was actually a huge success, and we got to be good friends. It wasn’t much different from singing — I act out my songs. If it’s an expressive story, I get right into it. If it’s a heart breaker, my heart breaks all to pieces. Somebody told me early on that the law of acting is to just react. Just talk to that person like they are actually saying it to you. So that made it easier for me.

Is it true that you memorized the entire script and not just your own lines?

Yesssss. [laughs] People rip me about that like I’m stupid, and I do feel stupid now! But I’d never seen a movie made. I thought you’d just have to learn the whole thing, because you have to play off other people. You don’t just learn your own lines! I didn’t know they shot out of sequence … So I memorized that whole script. It was like when I read the Bible once all the way through. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to learn all of it. I was so embarrassed when Jane Fonda told that story … [imitating Jane] “Dolly learned the whole script. Dolly’s a dumbass!” [laughs]

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