Picks and Pans Review: Spotlight On...
AS MUCH AS COUNTRY TROUBADOUR Willie Nelson loves being on the road—he still tours 260 nights a year, often on his famed bus the Honeysuckle Rose—he does enjoy a break now and then. So when director Barry Levinson called to cast him as a whacked-out songwriter in his comedy Wag the Dog, Nelson, 64, was ready. "It's like a vacation for me," says Nelson during an interview aboard—what else?—the Honeysuckle Rose, in Austin. "You get to stay in one place for several weeks at a time, their food is good, and it's fun." Nelson, who lives near Austin with Annie, his fourth wife, is no Hollywood greenhorn. He starred as a country singer in the 1980 film Honeysuckle Rose and won raves as an aged con in Michael Mann's 1981 film Thief And thanks to his old pal Jimmy Carter, he knows his way around Washington, where much of Wag's nefarious hilarity takes place. In the film, hoping to salvage an oversexed President's reelection, a cynical adviser (Robert De Niro) and a Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) invent a war. "They come and get me out of an insane asylum to write war songs," says Nelson, who directs a Nashville chorus singing a war anthem modeled on "We Are the World." "I don't know why they wanted me for the part," says Nelson, who will next play a bounty hunter in The HiLo Country, a western starring Woody Harrelson due in the fall. "Maybe this new generation coming up now is starting to appreciate me all over again."