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In Tim McGraw’s Acting Career, Timing (and Persistence) Is Everything

Tim McGraw acting career
Bryan Bedder, Getty Images

In addition to his music career, Tim McGraw has also found success as an actor, appearing in hit films such as Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side, among others. As soon as the singer landed on the charts with his debut single, “Indian Outlaw,” he began receiving offers for movie roles — but while he has always been a fan of movies, he was wise enough to take some time before building a film career of his own.

“Part of being an actor, part of being a musician, is being cool … Even if you’re not, you want to act like you’re cool … But being in the movies, it doesn’t always call for being cool …,” McGraw explained at a recent media event. “So I had this notion in my head, and I think it’s kind of true: Had you done something early on in your career, you did a movie and you just weren’t very good at it, it could really hurt your career.”

The country star also knew that waiting until the time was right in his primary career was important.

“I wanted to make sure that in my music career, I was pretty comfortable before I started making movies. And I wasn’t sure that I was ever going to take that chance, and then I read the Friday Night Lights script,” McGraw reveals. “I had done one thing before that, a movie called Black Cloud, which was a small, independent movie … It was the first time I had ever been on a movie set, and I got to do it away from [a] big studio [and] glaring lights. I got to step in and get my feet wet on a small, independent movie set, which was really good for me. I think had I not done that, I wouldn’t have been prepared for Friday Night Lights.”

Director Peter Berg initially turned McGraw down for the role of alcoholic father Charles Billingsley in Friday Night Lights, and it was McGraw’s tenacity that earned him the part.

“I fell in love with the script, so I called right away and tried to figure out how to get a reading for it. I tracked down Pete Berg, and he wasn’t going to let me read. He said, ‘Nope. Cast is already in.’ He didn’t know who I was, which turned out to be a good thing,” McGraw says. “So I flew down to Texas and went to his office and read and got the part. He gave me the part. But he said had he known who I was, he wouldn’t have given me the part.”

McGraw has played everything from an adoptive father in The Blind Side to a NASA engineer in Tomorrowland, to the husband of a country singer in Country Strong. Interestingly enough, McGraw has not yet played a singer — but he’s not opposed to the idea.

“I’d play an artist in a movie if everything was right,” McGraw says. “I think that’s the way I look at it … You try to look at a script, and you try to pick something that works for you. First, you’ve got to have passion for it, and then you’ve got to pick what works for you.

“… I’d like to do more movies, I just don’t have time. There are certain things that I’ve loved that the timing didn’t just work out for me to do,” he continues. “I get three months out of every couple years to try to do something, or two months. Sometimes you don’t really find something worth doing, or it doesn’t fit you.”

McGraw will next appear in The Shack. The movie is scheduled for release this fall.

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NEXT: Tim McGraw on the Moment He Almost Gave Up Music

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