Whether playing a vengeful preacher in Red Headed Stranger or a killer version of himself on USA’s Monk, Willie Nelson is as at home in front of a camera as he is onstage. With a natural charisma and a drawling way with dialogue (his phrasing is as unique as the way he sings), Nelson has been casting bait for directors since Sydney Pollack first placed him opposite Robert Redford in 1979’s The Electric Horseman. We count down a dozen of his most memorable roles, including his epic 1986 Miami Vice appearance and — run for the border! — a Taco Bell commercial in 1991. By Adam Gold, Joseph Hudak and Andrew Leahey
Electric Horseman 1979
“I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna get me a bottle of tequila, find me one of them keno girls that can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch and just kind of kick back.” With those lines, Willie Nelson made his feature-film debut unforgettable. Costarring as Wendell, the cowboy buddy of washed-up rodeo champ Sonny Steele, played with verve by Robert Redford, Nelson stole his scenes. Whether encouraging Steele to saddle up after one too many drunken nights or ruminating on how media folks — like Jane Fonda’s Hallie Martin — use people to get what they want, Nelson’s Wendell was full of Western wisdom. Of course, director Sydney Pollack couldn’t have a country star on his set and not find a reason to have him sing. When an argument turns heated between Steele and another rodeo pal, Wendell defuses the situation by belting out a few bars of — what else? — “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”
Nelson plays a horse-riding, pistol-twirling, double-braid-rocking outlaw in this overlooked western from 1982. Gary Busey, still fresh from his Academy Award-nominated turn in The Buddy Holly Story, is his bumbling sidekick, and writer William D. Wittliff — who also worked with Nelson on Honeysuckle Rose and Red Headed Stranger — handles the script. Barbarosa didn’t exactly shoot ‘em up at the box office, but the movie currently boasts a 100 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes — proof that it’s aged rather well, much like ol’ Willie himself.
Read about all the movies and see the clips: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/lists/willie-nelsons-12-most-memorable-acting-roles-20140815#ixzz3EIRsI9mX