The biopic runs deep in country music. From the Loretta Lynn saga Coal Miner's Daughter and Johnny Cash life story Walk the Line to the less celebrated Hank Williams tale I Saw the Light, filmmakers have turned to the triumps and tragedies of country legends to tell stories of family, faith and redemption.
With a George Jones and Tammy Wynette limited series on the way and a Merle Haggard biopic in the works, we think the world deserves a film about the incredible life and career of the Smoky Mountain Queen herself, Dolly Parton. Sure, Parton has already put pieces of her life on film in the beloved made-for-TV movies Coat of Many Colors and Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, but we'd love to see a movie that chronicles Parton's entire life, from growing up in poverty in East Tennessee to becoming a worldwide icon known for her timeless songs and selfless acts of kindness.
And it seems that the country icon has already given her biographical film some thought. In a profile in Elle, Parton offered up two actors who could potentially play her onscreen: Reese Witherspoon or Scarlett Johansson. But just in case Reese or Scarlett don't work out, we rounded up a few of our personal picks to play Dolly on the big screen.
Courtney's picks: Dove Cameron or Christina Hendricks
I personally think that Disney star Dove Cameron has young Dolly Parton written all over her. She has an incredible voice that she's showcased in The Descendants Disney Original movies as well as the new Apple show Schmigadoon.The 25-year-old has been acting and making music since she was a little girl so she has a lot in common with Parton already. She would be an ideal choice to capture the early days of Parton's legendary career as well as her romance with longtime love, husband Carl Thomas Dean. While she'd technically only be able to pull off Parton until age 30, that makes a perfect segue into my next pick.
Christina Hendricks has proven time and again that she can take on any kind of character. She's cheeky, strong, and holds her own whether it's in the male-dominated advertising industry of the '50s in Mad Men or protecting her family by stealing money in Good Girls. Bottom line, she's one tough cookie just like Dolly Parton and could definitely capture that strength and poise on the big screen. While we know she'd have what it takes to represent movie star Dolly, the big question is, can she sing? Why yes, she can. She'd look nearly unrecognizable sporting Dolly's bleach blonde locks instead of her signature red, but that would just further prove that she could disappear into the character.
Bobby's pick: Jessica Chastain
Jessica Chastain is the kind of dynamic talent that could pull off two crucial elements of Parton's persona: that instantly-recognizable East Tennessee drawl and the whole happy-go-lucky air that's as synonymous with the country legend as her catalog of classic songs.
Of course, Chastain taking the lead role in this scenario depends on whether the filming schedule conflicts with another dream role for her: Opie Taylor's daughter.
Silke's picks: Julia Garner or Alona Tal
If there's anyone who I think could play Dolly Parton flawlessly, it's Julia Garner. The 27-year -old, born in New York, has recently been making major headlines for her role as Ruth Langmore in Ozark. For her portrayal of Langmore, she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Garner would be perfect to play Dolly — not just because she looks like her, but because she always delivers a great performance in every role she accepts. Another factor that I think would be great involves her husband, Mark Foster, the lead singer of Foster the People. So think of it as a double-whammy; the two can produce some of Dolly's songs, and she can sing on them. Perfect combo.
Another actress I think could portray Parton very well is Alona Tal. Although I've only seen her in action TV series such as Veronic Mars and Supernatural, throughout both shows she had very pivotal heartbreaking and romantic moments. She knows how to really get into her role and bring that character to life. Also, it doesn't hurt that she kind of looks like a young Parton to me, so it's a no-brainer here! She has the looks, the acting, the singing and hey...maybe she'll have that Nashville spirit!
Bobbie Jean's pick: Kacey Musgraves
Ok, hear me out. I know Kacey Musgraves isn't necessarily known as an actor, but neither was Dolly Parton until she became a scene stealer in 9 to 5. These days, Parton is as recognized for her work onscreen as she is for her talent behind the mic. (Who among us doesn't quote Truvy from Steel Magnolias on a daily basis?) Musgraves has the heart, vocal talent and humor (just check out her Christmas variety show) to embody the great Dolly Parton on film. After all, she already has experience performing Parton's songs and just check out this Twitter thread to see the resemblance between the Country Music Hall of Famer and the "Rainbow" singer.
kacey musgraves is dolly parton?s daughter: a conspiracy theory pic.twitter.com/UjXT96e1YU
— alexandra (@finelineonvinyl) December 19, 2018
I for one would love to see Musgraves follow in the footsteps of Parton, Madonna and Lady Gaga to become a singer turned silver screen queen. Kacey Musgraves as Dolly Parton could be the next Lady Gaga in A Star is Born! You heard it here first.
This article was originally published in August of 2021.
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