Billy Bob's Willie Doc "King of Luck" Debuts at SXSW

A star-studded audience turned out for SXSW’s closing night premiere of Billy Bob Thornton’s long-awaited Willie Nelson documentary, The King of Luck. The influential actor and director (as well as leader of the Boxmasters) has assembled a loving tribute that many of us on the inside of the Willie team will be really impressed with. Many of the characters around the man are pretty damn charismatic too, and Thornton includes them all in the film, which is the key difference between The King of Luck and American Masters or any other “standard” take on the man.

Introducing the film, Billy Bob mentioned that he tried to capture what about him inspires such loyalty among his cohorts. Coach Darrell Royal, a longtime friend of Willie’s, summed it up pretty accurately in the film, “he has a good memory for his friends.” Willie’s buddies are a constant presence in the film, from the triumvirate of baked actors (Woody, Luke and Owen) to fellow poets like Kinky, and supply great profiles of the man.

Willie’s fans will dig this film immensely for the up-close/personal performances, amazing archival footage (especially Faron Young at the Boar’s Nest Reunion and rarely seen footage of Bee taking off behind Willie in Vegas during “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”), stories, photos and many miles and smiles along the road. Kinky Friedman accurately describes Willie as a folk hero… his magical quality comes through in this film and the music is beautifully recorded and performed. It makes you feel like you are hanging out with Willie, down to earth but flying high at the same time.

We are especially lucky that Billy Bob captured Poodie Locke’s interview before he left us suddenly last May. Poodie was a mainstay of Willie shows and the story would be missing something without his presence.

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