Qnabs: Actor Slash Singer

Questions nobody asks but should: Who’s your favorite actor slash singer?

That’s a tough question, because there’s a lot of people who are quite good at both, from Frank Sinatra to the unspellable Zooey Deschanel. But today I’ll say Will Oldham.

Will Oldham, aka “Bonnie Prince Billy,” is a terrific rootsy folk singer and songwriter whose voice sounds world weary and wise. He has written beautiful, heart-breaking songs like “Agnes Queen of Sorrow” and “I See a Darkness” and “New Partner,” to name some of my favorites.

I knew he’d done some acting, but last night saw him as a teenager in the John Sayles movie Matewan and was really impressed by his performance. His character, like Oldham himself, seemed much older — in this case a young man who’d already taken the responsibilities of the world on his shoulders and is handling them with courage and convictions given to him by his community and his faith. He did this before he was an alt country hero, and I think if he’d stuck with acting as his primary career he’d have a couple of Oscars by now. It’s a character and a performance that will stick with me for a while. Unfortunately I can’t find a clip from the movie featuring Will Oldham, but here’s the Bonnie Prince singing a Bill Withers song of all things (I really like Bill Withers, too, but I’m not sure if he’s done any notable acting. Just lent songs to many a soundtrack.)

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