It is very common for music stars to branch out into Hollywood and feature in several films. One iconic music star who did this successfully was Dolly Parton.
Before venturing into Hollywood movies and shows, Parton was a country music icon with many hits and award-winning songs to her name, such as “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You.”
However, like many celebrities, she decided to take her career to the next level, hired a manager based in Los Angeles, and began to look at the many movies offers she had received. In a new place, far from her home in Nashville, Tennessee, Parton soon developed mixed feelings about the industry and realized that Hollywood was not all it seemed to be, and she said so severally.
Parton was very successful in her Hollywood career and featured in many hit films as her fans know. But let’s look back at when she said that Hollywood was a ‘phony’ and why she said so.
Why Did Parton Call Hollywood A Phony World?
Parton made her move to Hollywood in 1981 and spoke about how she adjusted to it in the book “Dolly On Dolly,” where she said, “I like it better than I used to. I’ve adjusted to it more. There are a lot of wonderful people here. It could never be my home, but it’s exciting.”
Later on, in an interview with Playboy magazine, the interviewer then asked her about her statement that the Hollywood industry was a “phony world.” and asked if she still felt that way.
Parton then explained her statement and said she meant “the surroundings, all the airs people have to put on. Everybody is trying to be different, to have a gimmick. I’m just talking about all the hokey things, all the freaky people like Elton John and myself who come up with things to catch your attention.
…It’s kind of a joke, what I said, but there was a great deal of truth in it as well. I take my music extremely seriously, but I’m talking about all the things that go along with it- the parties, award shows, all the people trying to outdress the others, trying to get into Time magazine with their dresses cut below the tailbone or whatever.”
Her Hollywood Career In 1981
Parton was very much in demand when she moved to Hollywood. The music icon had several scripts sent to her but ultimately chose the film “9 to 5,” where she played the character of a secretary named Doralee Rhodes.
At the time of her interview, the film was just about to be released. Her second film, “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas,” was set to follow, and Parton was excited and prepared.
The budding film star at the time said, “We don’t know yet how I’m gonna affect the public. There is certainly a possibility that I’ll need bigger gates and security guards at home, but I’m prepared for that. I built my house years ago with the thought in mind that there would come a day when I would need privacy and security, so it’s located far enough off the road that I can wander around in the front yard and nobody can see me. I planned my whole life carefully preparing for success.”
And both films, along with many of her subsequent ones, were successes.
Parton On Her Character In ‘9 To 5’
In a separate interview with Rolling Stone, Parton explained that “9 to 5” was the first role she accepted but not the first or second she was offered.
She wanted her first film to be of excellent quality, so she waited until she got one she liked. Before acting in “9 to 5,” Parton had never acted before, never taken any lessons. To make sure she was adequately prepared, the musician made sure she memorized the entire film script.
She said, “I’ve never had an acting lesson in my life. A lot of people probably say I should have, but I didn’t feel that what I played was phony.”
She felt her acting in the film was as authentic as she could be because, to her, the character of Doralee was just like her. In explaining this, she said, “I was lucky in the respect that they had written it according to my personality; I carry a gun, and she carries a gun in the picture. She was really just me as a secretary, so I played it like that.”
Parton Understood Her Devoted Fans
As Parton became a bigger star in the music and film industry, her fan base grew.
Her fans also became more loyal and devoted, unafraid to show up for her shows and events even in the face of bad weather. She explained to Playboy that she truly understood the energy and enthusiasm of her fans.
She told the interviewer, “I know how important it is for people to have somebody to look up to. Some people don’t really have enough going. They have never looked deep enough into themselves, or they never had the intelligence, or haven’t cared enough, or didn’t have the chance to be satisfied with who they are. So if there’s somebody they love, idealize and almost worship, they want to be as close to that person as they can, so they can pattern their own lives after that person. It makes it easier for ’em sometimes.”