Trace Adkins Fights the Law With Matthew McConaughey
Trace Adkins draws from his years as roughneck for his latest acting gig. The country superstar plays Eddie Vogel, the leader of a motorcycle gang, in 'The Lincoln Lawyer,' which hits theaters today (March 18). Hollywood heavyweight Matthew McConaughey leads the film as Mick Haller, the title character who lends his legal services to Eddie's crew.
"The people [my character] represents [are] these sort of bottom-feeders in society that can't really defend themselves," Matthew tells The Boot about Mick's relationship with Eddie's crew. "He's not naive by any means. He may still have some ideology about who he's defending, but he's a pragmatist."
While Trace himself is certainly no bottom-feeder, he knew how to play one. "I think of myself as a cowboy in spirit, even if I don't ride to work on a horse every day," he explains. "The guys that are in motorcycle clubs, to me, are modern day 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. I've fought Eddie. Although, I never relished fighting Eddie."
While he may have come to blows with Eddie in the past, the 6'6'' singer doesn't hold a grudge. "There's a healthy respect between myself and that community," Trace admits. "It may not always be within the bounds of the law, but they still live by a certain code. We get along all right."
If it hadn't been for Trace's first profession, this may have been a harder role for him to grasp. "I'm a roughneck, not a redneck," he clarifies. "I worked on oil rigs for 10 years before I started doing this silliness. I had a real job. That's why I say I know Eddie, because the oil field is full of Eddies."
Trace may seem an obvious choice for the part to his loyal fans, but he still had to audition like anyone else. "When I got to the set the first day the director, Brad Furman, said to me, 'You got this part based on your audition. I had no idea who you were,'" he admits. "That stung a little bit. I thought I was a bigger deal than that. [laughs] At the same time, it was flattering that I legitimately won the part."
Matthew's got a history with country music, from directing and starring in Jamey Johnson's latest music video for 'Playing the Part,' to presenting at various country award shows, but he hadn't been close with Trace before filming. "I've been a fan of his work and I had met him once at an Academy of Country Music award show," Trace acknowledges. "I handed him my new CD that night, because there was a song on there that had his name in it. Months later, I read for this part and I got the thing and the first thing he said to me was, 'You mispronounced my name in that song!' It was an 'e' rhyme so I said, 'McConaug-hee' and he didn't like that."
Working with Matthew was definitely a positive experience. "Matthew really made me feel comfortable," Trace says. "He made me feel welcomed and comfortable. He rehearsed the scenes with me, and he didn't have to do that. I really appreciated that."
Although, there was one scene that put Trace on edge. "The only time I was really uncomfortable is the first time you see me in the movie," he admits. "I come up beside the car [on a motorcycle] and I motion for him to pull over. It looks like I'm right beside the car, and I'm not because there's a trailer sticking out behind the car. And they said, 'You got to be right on the trailer so it looks like it.' My butt was puckered up."
The East Texas actor has also inspired the singer's personal life. "[Matthew] had this customized silver stream, really nice trailer," Trace explains. "The one cool [piece of] advice I got from Matthew McConaughey is: he has three of those trailers and his mother-in-law lives in one of them in the yard. That's great. That's where my mother-in-law is going to live if she ever comes to live with us. [laughs]"
The 'Lincoln Lawyer' is the first of three books that follows Mick Haller, meaning there's definitely material for a sequel. And there's the possibility that Eddie could come back, but given the chance, would Trace reprise his role? "Absolutely," he confirms. "I'd like to do it again. There's some chemistry there. Matthew and I spent some time together just talking about where we're from. We're both on the same neck of the woods. He's from Longview, Texas and I grew up just across the Louisiana line, about 70 miles away. His father worked in that same oil patch that I worked in."
Trace enjoys his forays into acting, but he won't be taking it up full-time. "I'm not about to walk away from my music career," he says. "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 is a character I think I can associate and identify with I'll try to do it. There's an old Clint Eastwood line, 'A man's got to know his limitations.' I hope that I know mine. I'm not going to try and tackle a part that I can't convincingly pull off."
But for now, acting is a rush. "I like being put in situations where I'm out of my comfort zone: something that challenges me," he adds. "Acting certainly does that. 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. It's always exhilarating."
The 'Lincoln Lawyer' is now open in theaters nationwide. See a preview below.