Interview with Waylon Payne

Waylon Payne is the son of guitarist Jody Payne and Grammy Award-winning country singer Sammi Smith. Waylon has grown up in the music business but is also known for his working in films. Waylon played Jerry Lee Lewis in “Walk the Line”. Waylon is co-star in Monte Hellman’s first film in over 20 years “Road to Nowhere”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Waylon about his film in the film as well as his film and music career.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you tell us about your role in “Road to Nowhere”?
Waylon Payne: I play a guy by the name of Bruno Brotherton who is an insurance investigator that stumbles onto a mystery that I still haven’t quite figured out yet. (Laughs) I don’t quite understand it but I will tell you it’s brilliant. I can’t really tell you too much about the film but, you have to go see it! I do a little bit of everything in the film.

MG: How did you become involved with the projects?
WP: My friend Connie Nelson who was married to Willie called me at home and told me Monte Hellman was looking to get a hold of me. I called him and he told me about the project and the role he had for me and asked if I would do it. I told him “Yes sir” and that’s really where it started. The rest is shrouded in secrecy. (Laughs) I drove my car up to North Carolina and we shot the film in about 28 days which was something I had never done before. It was really amazing as the film was shot with such speed and precision.

MG: How was it working with Monte Hellman since this was his first feature in over 20 years?
WP: I was very enthralled and intrigued by Mr. Hellman. I hadn’t heard much about him until I got to North Carolina. After I got there I started to learn how extensive his career was and how long he has been in the business. Now I am a rabid fan and I really enjoy the things he did with Warren Oates as well as his work on some of the Jack Nicholson films. I am a big fan of old movies and I really just dig cool shots.

MG: Tell us about working with such a great cast?
WP: They were all great! I like being an actor and getting to be a part of these things because I get to know people on an extremely intimate level. When you’re throwing yourself out there it’s real easy to get a lot of attitudes flowing around. Fortunately ever cast I have been a part of so far has been great.

MG: You first film role was playing Jerry Lee Lewis in “Walk the Line”, tell us about that experience?
WP: It was incredible! We were in Memphis for about three months and I had primarily been a song writer and a country singer. I then was thrust into the cool world of all my heroes. Everyone was very embracing and encouraging.

MG: Besides acting, tell us about your singer-songwriting career?
WP: I have been working on a few projects over the past few years. Nothing has really become solid yet as I like to let things roll around in my head until they are ready to be born. I am getting ready to start a tribute album for my mother who did an album titled “The Day I Started Loving You” back n 1974. We are going to recreate that as a tribute for my mommy.

MG: Since you come from a music background, would you always choose that over films?
WP: Right now primarily I am focusing strictly on films. I am ok from taking some time away from singing and song writing for awhile. I love doing that stuff but right now it’s not at the top of my list. It’s something I am never going to quit because I want to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry!

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