We're sharing this article as part of Willie Week, our week-long celebration of the life and music of Willie Nelson leading up to the music icon's 89th birthday.
From Nashville to Hollywood, Willie Nelson is what some like to call a triple threat. Well, I've never seen him dance, but the accolades he's collected as a musician and an actor tell me he must have all three covered.
On the big screen, Nelson has done it all. He's played the buddy to a drunken cowboy in The Electric Horseman and a true gun-slinging outlaw in Barbarosa. His acting style is like his performance style: unique. This is why Nelson has been cast in over 30 movies and has been inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame.
Let's take a look back at Shotgun Willie's best movies.
9. The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
Willie plays the role of Uncle Jesse in this 2005 remake.
8. The American Revolutions: The Highwaymen (2006)
7. Another Pair of Aces (1991)
Billy Roy Rodriguez (Willie Nelson) and Rip Metcalf (Kris Kristofferson) are on the hunt for a killer.
6. Once Upon A Texas Train (1988)
John Henry Lee (Willie Nelson) and his clique of outlaws are robbing banks all through Texas.
5. Stagecoach (1986)
Doc Holliday (Willie Nelson,) Ringo (Kris Kristofferson,) Hatfield (Waylon Jennings,) and Mashal Curly Wilcox (Johnny Cash) all find themselves on the same train trying to outrun their past. U.S. Calvary Lieutenant Blanchard informs the passengers that Geronimo is on the train's path. The group of men helps plan the escape.
4. Songwriter (1984)
Doc Jenkins (Willie Nelson) found himself in the middle of a bad business deal when he tried to make himself music industry royalty. He called on his good buddy and former band partner, Blackie Buck (Kris Kristofferson), to help him find a way out.
3. Barbarosa (1982)
The film takes place in the pre-civil war era of Texas. Karl Westover (Gary Busey) has killed his brother-in-law and decided to escape to Mexico to outrun the law. On his way, he meets an outlaw by the name of Barbarosa (Willie Nelson.) On their way to Mexico, Barbarosa teaches Karl how to survive when you're on the run. The two men get captured by an outlaw and are being hunted by Don Braulio (Gilbert Roland.)
2. Honeysuckle Rose (1980)
Buck (Willie Nelson) is a country music singer-songwriter who finds himself in a love triangle with Viv (Dyan Cannon), who is his wife, and Lily (Amy Irving), who is the daughter of one of his best friends. Buck must choose between the two women he loves.
1. Red Headed Stranger (1986)
Rev. Julian Shay (Willie Nelson) moves his family out to Montana to spread the word of God. When his wife leaves him for another man, he starts spreading bullets instead of the good word.
Nelson also appeared in several TV shows:
Willie made a cameo on the "Behind The Laughter" episode of The Simpsons. The fame has gotten to the heads of the family members, and Nelson has to perform at a fake awards show to bring everyone back together.
A retired Texas Ranger, Jake Pierson (Willie Nelson,) finds himself in the middle of a wild goose chase on the Miami Vice episode 'El Viejo."
In the episode "Mr. Monk and The Red Headed Stranger," Willie Nelson is a murder suspect.
Half Baked (1998)
Surfer, Dude (2008)
Angels Sing (2013)
Blonde Ambition (2007)
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in March of 2021.
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