There is only one Dolly Parton — a multitalented, multifaceted powerhouse of song and stardom. But Miss Parton is more than just a singer/songwriter/actress/writer/producer/businesswoman, she is an international entertainment icon. Not bad for a girl from the Smokey Mountains.
Starting off as a 12-year-old singer, she went from local TV to the Grand Ole Orpy, eventually recording more than 40 albums and penning arguably the most well-known song in history, “I Will Always Love You.” Miss Parton has also starred in “9 Top 5,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Steel Magnolias.” She even has her own theme park, Dollywood.
For her latest project, Miss Parton has transformed her song “Coat of Many Colors” into a feature film — which she also executive-produced. The song and the movie tell the tale of Miss Parton’s humble and poor Tennessee beginnings and how the real gifts in life come from the heart, not a store.
At the red carpet premiere, Miss Parton and sister Stella Parton, child actress Alyvia Alyn Lind (who plays young Dolly) and actor Ricky Schroder (who plays Dolly’s dad in the film) discussed “Coat of Many Colors.”
Question: Why did you decide to produce a movie based on your early life?
Dolly Parton: I always thought that “Coat of Many Colors” would make a beautiful film. I had been offered a lot of times to have it put on film. It just seemed to be the time to do it.
I just think there are a lot of family things missing from television. I just wanted to do something faith-based for families, something they could enjoy together. So I think it’s time.
Q: How did you feel about the the finished film?
DP: It’s very touching, very emotional. I get so emotional I can’t hardly watch it. Getting a chance to see Momma and Daddy and my younger brothers and sister like it was when we were little. It was very overwhelming to Stella and me. We spent all day crying.
Q: Stella, this is the story of Dolly’s upbringing, but is it your story as well?
Stella Parton: It is my story, but I’m also acting in it.
Q: What part do you play?
SP: I’m playing the gossipy old church lady. I’m the first character you see in the film. I drive up and give her the box of rags that becomes the coat.
Q: Was that character based on someone you knew growing up?
SP: The person I created was from three different women I knew as a child.
DP: She’s so great at it.
Q: What is it like being Dolly Parton’s sister?
SP: Well, she has always been my sister, so it’s not like I know anything else. [laughs] It’s great, of course!
DP: So sweet. Tell him about your new album.
SP: I have a brand-new album coming out January 18, which is the day before [Dolly’s] birthday, and it’s a tribute album. It’s all her music. Finally I’m doing a tribute album to her.
DP: I’m excited. I was very honored and flattered that she’d do an album of my songs.
Q: Dolly, will there be other films based on your songs?
DP: We’ve signed a deal for four films based on my songs. Next up is “Jolene.” We’ll see what we do after that.
Q: What did you think of Alyvia Alyn Lind, who played the younger version of you in the film?
DP: She was incredible. She is much prettier and cuter than I was. I don’t think I was ever all that.
Q: Alyvia, you play Dolly in the film. What advice did she give you?
Alyvia Alyn Lind: The advice Dolly gave me was to dream. Because a dream is always bigger than wishes. If you really work really hard for your dreams, they are most definitely gonna come true.
Q: Ricky, what made you want to do the film?
Ricky Schroder: Dolly Parton said that I reminded her of her dad, and that she wanted me from the beginning for the part. I was flattered. Then I read the script. It’s a nice story and a great character I play.
Lee Parton has a great journey — from a guy with no faith in the middle of a religious community to a guy that finds the faith. I like that.
Q: Was there pressure to get it right because you played a real person?
AAL: A little bit. It wasn’t that hard because me and Dolly are so alike.
RS: The pressure was there, but not because [Lee Parton] was historically famous and people knew him. There was pressure because I wanted to do right by Dolly and her family. So there was a little pressure for sure.
Q: Alyvia, did you get to keep the coat of many colors?
AAL: I didn’t! But I really, really really wanted to. I really hope they are gonna email my mom and say, “We’re gonna send it to you.”
Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” airs Thursday on NBC.