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Starring as Dolly Parton’s father in the new NBC movie, Ricky Schroder shares his thoughts on his character, Dolly’s approval of his performance and more.
Ricky Schroder plays Robert Lee in “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.” This father of four said he was naturally drawn to watching over the children on set.
Q. As you started to develop your character, what things about Robert Lee stood out or perhaps surprised you?
A. I wanted to do a good job in my character for Dolly and her family. This movie is so dear and important to her that I really wanted to honor who her father was and their relationship, because she just adored him. Dolly gave me just a few tidbits of information here and there when we were producing the movie that were extremely helpful about him and his nature and his humor; how he didn’t like to waste words. He was a man of few words. It was an honor to play him.
Q. The Parton family is known for their tight-knit bonds. While filming, did the cast develop similar family-like relationships?
A. It’s very easy to want to be a father and protector and teacher for those kids. They’re such sweet kids, the whole clan. You know, you work together with your coworkers so many hours, and you just get to like them. You get to know them a little bit, you get to know their personalities. I have an extra kind of soft place in my heart for those kids, because they have to work so hard, especially little [Alyvia]. She worked so hard. She carried so much weight, so well, on her broad shoulders that you can’t help but feel protective over those kids. That was a wonderful time with those kids.
Q. Considering everything you have done in your career, where does this role rank in your list of achievements?
A. Well, I’ll let you know when I see it [laughing]. I have every expectation that it’s going to be a movie that I’ll be so proud of. I had a lot of good feelings making this movie.
Q. By today’s standards, with four children, you have a big family. Was there ever a moment while making this film, you stopped to think about the challenges Robert Lee faced raising a family of 12?
A. Sure, enormous challenges to feed 12, plus yourself and your wife, 14 people. I’m not going to discount the challenges that parents today face either. There’s just massive challenges and pressures on today’s parents, maybe not providing the basics as what Lee needed to provide… [but] enormous responsibility for sure.
Q. The song “Coat of Many Colors,” first debuted in 1971, yet it still has a powerful message for people today. Why do you think people relate so well to this story?
A. Because of Dolly, I think. We all want to know where she came from. She is so special and unique. That’s really what this movie shows people, where Dolly came from and who loved her and who was with her and helped nurture her.
Q. Other than “Coat of Many Colors” do you have a favorite Dolly song?
A. Probably one of my favorites is the duet with her and Kenny Rogers, “Islands in the Stream.”
Q. What was your favorite moment of making the film or your favorite takeaway?
A. I’m so proud of so many people who worked so hard on the movie. My favorite takeaway… probably a note that Dolly wrote me one day when we were in production. She said she had been watching the dailies, you know the work from the previous days. She was so glad she chose me to play her father. That was a pretty special moment to get that letter from her.
See more cast interviews and tune in Thursday, December 10 at 9/8c on NBC to watch Ricky Schroder as Robert Lee Parton in “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.”