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Whether you know him from his music or his acting, one thing that you may have noticed about Trace Adkins is that he is a big guy. With a deep, booming voice reminiscent of Sam Elliot and standing at 6’6”, he’s a guy that can intimidate just by entering a room. Naturally this made him a perfect fit for Eddie, the motorcycle gang leader in Brad Furman’s The Lincoln Lawyer.
Speaking with Adkins as part of a roundtable interview, the actor/singer discussed the audition process, doing multiple takes and how waiting around on a movie set can be a killer. Check out the interview below!
So it looks from the screen that you very much dug yourself into this character, how was it to kind of wrap your head around this guy?
Well, I know Eddie.... You know, there’s a lot of Eddie in me but I’ve known lots of Eddies, I’ve fought Eddies in my life. Worked in the oil field with a lot of Eddies. When I read the script I thought it was something that maybe I could pull off. So I came out and auditioned for it.
How did you approach doing a role onscreen versus doing a song in front of thousands of people in an arena?
I’ve always, onstage when I’m singing a song... I hate hypocrites. If you don’t put yourself in that lyric and emote and be what that lyric says that you are, if you don’t put yourself into that song then you’re just going through the motions and you’re being hypocritical. And I just take that same approach into this, and I just take that dialogue and I emote it, and become that, and use the same technique. I’ve never been trained as an actor so it has to be a part of it I think, I can identify with and something I can pull off. You know I’m no Philip Seymour Hoffman or Johnny Depp. It’s got to be a very specific thing for me to do. I’m not gonna pull off every role that comes along.
So you said that you know a lot of Eddies, but how much of Eddie is in you?
I’ve used that intimidation too, a time or two in my life. It’s a pretty handy tool.
Your character has a lot of really kind of fun hand gestures and things like that, was that improvised, or just kind of came out?
I was just doing whatever I thought Eddie would do. He’s quiet, but there’s an animation that he uses to express himself. You need to know that it could go a little bit farther than that if he needed it to.
What do you like and what don’t you like about the moviemaking process?
Just the waiting. It’s the same way doing music videos and I think that that is the one thing that music videos prepared me for, for the experiences that I have had making movies, it is that tedious waiting in between shots. That’s the hardest part.
The challenge. Anytime you get out of your comfort zone and you have to do something that you’re not comfortable doing, something that you’re not real sure of yourself in the situation, there’s an exhilaration that comes along with that. I get off on it. That’s why I enjoy doing it.
Do you ride motorcycles?
Yeah, I have a Harley. But it was funny they wouldn’t take my word for it that I knew how to ride. They had an insurance guy follow me around the first day I was there. So we rode around a while. The same way with horses they won’t take your word for it that you know how to ride a horse, you have to show them.
You weren’t formally trained as an actor, how did your first role come to you?
The first couple of roles I had were just imitation, just come be yourself in this movie. This was the first time that I’ve auditioned for something, that I actually won the part. The first day on the set the director Brad Furman came to me and said I want you to know that you’re here because of your audition and I had no idea who you were...and uh...it kinda hurt! I thought I was a bigger deal than that...he had no idea who I was!
What was the audition process like?
Same as a lot of other ones, I’ve done several auditions. My agent out here Anna Kelly at CAA, every time something comes along in the last 3-4, I’ve only been in CAA about three years now, and something comes along, she thinks it’s something I could do, she’ll give me a call, I’ll come out here and read for it.
When you were auditioning was Matthew there?
No, no just the casting director. I don’t remember who it was...
Do you find it difficult to watch yourself whether it’s in your videos or on the screen?
Yeah I’m not a fan of me doing anything. I’m not a fan of my singing, I’m not a fan of my acting. There are a lot of people who can do both those things better than I can. I’d rather hear them.
Well some people are! And you can make a hell of a lot of money. I just love it I mean I do enjoy it. There’s that gratification that comes from performing in front of a live audience and you can’t replicate that with anything else. In the studio, the creation part of this business, that’s fun, but when you see the fans letting you know that they enjoy what you’re doing, that’s why I keep doing it.
How did your comic book come about, was that something that was brought to you?
Yeah. These guys just came to me and said, “Hey, we wanna do a comic book and we want you to be the character in the comic book.” And I was like, “What, like a super hero or something?” And they were like, “No, just, you know, just you, and we’ll run the story line by you and get some feedback, what would you say in this situation, how would you react, and yada yada” and I think “Okay...” So we talked for an hour or so, and three months later I got a comic book in the mail!
What’d you make of it?
It was embarrassing! There was one thing in the comic book, he had just gotten out of prison and he comes in back to his home town, and its at night, and he runs into his old flame and they talk and yada yada, and she’s like coming on to him and he goes, “No, I’ve been in prison a long time, I don’t want to jump back into a relationship.” I called the dude up and go, “Man that’s not what I would have done! How long you say I’ve been in prison?” That was not natural.
Now that you have the acting bug, or do you have the acting bug? Is there a role that you want to play?
Yeah. A mute gunfighter.
Are you being serious?
I think it’d be an awesome role though you don’t have to learn any lines, just shoot people. Maybe have a dog that follows you around. I’m working on it, it’s not anywhere close to being finished with the whole idea yet.
We’ve talked about it. There’s been some talk about it and there’s been some interest expressed. I’m an old jock and I’m very superstitious, and all that talk about stuff I’ll change myself and it’ll never happen.
Okay, talk about prospective casting, I mean who would you like to see?
I’m gonna do it! You know, if we decide to do it. But I ain’t gonna pay for it if that’s what you’re asking.
Are you in the studio now?
I got a new single coming out next week, and that’ll be followed by an album, probably in the fall.
Does it have a name?
For the album? Not yet.
And the song?
The song’s called “Just Fishin’.” It sounds like a country hick song but it’s not. It’s about a father taking his little girl fishing, and the point of the song is she thinks, “We’re just fishing,” but that’s not what it’s about is it?
Those scenes that you did with Matthew, what was that like for you?
It would have been terrifying if not for the fact that he was so generous to me and rehearsed the scenes with me and wanted to make sure that I felt comfortable and just told me, “You got this man you got this, don’t worry about it you got it.” And he convinced me that I was going to be all right. He didn’t have to do that, and I appreciate him doing that.
Matthew mentioned that you didn’t do that many takes. When they told you that they got it how did you feel, were you confident in your performance?
The second or third take, and they’d say we got it! You know you had it on the first take. I had it on the first take. “The camera wasn’t focused? What the hell is wrong with you people!”