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A top-selling country music star since the mid-'80s, multi-talented Dwight Yoakam branched out into acting in the 1990s.
Born in Kentucky, Yoakam was raised in Ohio and attended college at Ohio State University. Inspired by music since childhood, Yoakam dropped out of school to move to Nashville in the late '70s. Finding the Nashville scene less than accommodating for his interpretation of country music, Yoakam subsequently headed to Los Angeles. Striking music gold with his first album in 1986, Yoakam became a renowned country-rock singer/songwriter of the '80s and '90s.
Casting an eye on another facet of Los Angeles' entertainment world, Yoakam began acting. After appearing on TV, Yoakam played a truck driver in John Dahl's acclaimed neo-noir Red Rock West (1993); he then provided the music score for Red Rock West star Dennis Hopper's 1994 comedy Chasers. Yoakam played a larger part in the TV docudrama Roswell (1994) (not to be mistaken for the 1999 teen series). After moving to a starring role as a rodeo clown in the action movie Painted Hero (1995), Yoakam earned critical raves for his intense performance as an abusive drunk in Billy Bob Thornton's Oscar-winning drama Sling Blade (1996). Yoakam again garnered positive notices (though the movie did not) as a humble safecracking associate of the titular gang in The Newton Boys (1998). Sticking with off-center screen fare, Yoakam subsequently starred as one of the detectives that Owen Wilson's serial killer Van imagines is stalking him in Hampton Fancher's idiosyncratic crime story The Minus Man (1999). Aiming to try more creative pursuits, Yoakam wrote and directed, as well as scored and starred in, his next film, South of Heaven, West of Hell (2000). Yoakam returned to acting in David Fincher's thriller The Panic Room (2001). ~ Lucia Bozzola,