As SXSW 2011 rocked Downtown Austin on the last official night of the festival, movie and music fans converged on the Paramount Theater to watch "The King of Luck," a beautiful, black-and-white tribute to musician Willie Nelson.
Speaking about the man who became the subject of this documentary, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett said "As the Austin History Center said this week, Austin became this center of music in the country, because this is where the hippies met the rednecks and they all went to go listen to Willie Nelson," he said. "We're glad Kanye West is here tonight to perform, but Austin will always be Willie Nelson."
As Rep. Doggett turned the microphone over to Billy Bob Thornton, director of "The King of Luck," Thornton said this was the first time he has been in Austin and has not been, uh, totally intoxicated.
"I'm a little more nervous than usual," Thornton said. "People keep asking me 'Why did you choose Willie Nelson as the subject of a documentary?' Well, actually I didn't. I was asked to do this. I have been friends with Willie for a long, long time and they thought it made sense for me to make a documentary about Willie because they wanted to make one."
A rich guy, Thornton said, called him up, put him in a penthouse in New York, sat him down with Nelson's manager and said "We want to make a big documentary about Willie Nelson, a multi-million dollar deal. We'll pay you this amount of money and you can forget all those other things you were going to do. And I said 'Okay. Cool,'" Thornton said.
Once everyone had agreed to it, Thornton said, it was about 10 minutes before the rich guy dropped out. "I ended up doing it myself for not a multi-million dollar price. We made a very simple little documentary about Willie, which is exactly what you would want. You aren't going to see anything fancy. This is a simple, loving tribute, but we wanted to show why all these people are called Willie's family, a very extended family," he said.
Thornton also called Willie Nelson one of the last troubadours that keeps our history alive. "The most important thing is history. If I was listening to the Beatles and the (Rolling) Stones when I was 9 years old, I also knew who Billie Holiday was and Hank Williams, Jimmy Rogers, whoever it was. These days, even though there are some great kids out there, some great music, history goes back about 6 months. And that's why we made this movie," he said.
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- U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett
- Willie Nelson
- Billy Bob Thornton
- Downtown Austin
- Austin History Center
- the man who
- the Beatles and
- Kanye West