Trace Adkins stars in "Monarch." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Susan Sarandon said Trace Adkins taught her about the country music world. The two co-star in Monarch, premiering Sunday on Fox.
"I love the storytelling of country-western music," Sarandon said in a recent Television Critics Association panel. "I never knew it in depth or anything. I've smoked a joint with Willie Nelson. That was about the deepest I got."
Adkins and Sarandon play Albie and Dottie Roman, two country stars whose children are in the music business, too. Adkins, 60, is a recording artist himself and the show features guest appearances by the likes of Shania Twain, Tanya Tucker, Martina McBride and Little Big Town.
"That's the whole bonus of being an actor, that you get to go into these little bubbles that you don't know anything about and find out so much more in depth," said Sarandon, 75. "I was so eager and looking forward to meeting Trace and to being able to wear that hair, the jewelry and find out about a life on the road."
Adkins, who acted in films like The Lincoln Lawyer, Deepwater Horizon and 13 Minutes, said he was surprised to find himself as the lead of a network drama.
"It was about this time last year that I was getting into Atlanta and about to walk on a television set," Adkins said. "I had no clue what I was doing or what I was about to do. So here we are now a year later, and I'm just hanging on by my fingernails."
Albie and Dottie still overshadow their daughter, Nicolette (Anna Friel). However, their other daughter, Gigi (Beth Ditto), is highly sought-after.
While country music was new to Sarandon, the Oscar-winner said the Roman family drama was more relatable.
"I do know about family," Sarandon said. "So that was easy."
Friel, 46, said that Adkins also helped fill her in on the country music world. The British actor sang in the 2006 comedy, Irish Jam, but Monarch was her first experience with country music.
"Trace was on set so much of the time, but also on a tour bus going to perform," Friel said. "I couldn't believe that most of them arrived on a tour bus, got on set, did their performance and then got back on a tour bus to go to the next performance."
Adding the musical performances to her acting work enhanced the role, Friel said.
"Country music's a powerful, moving, expressive form of communication," Friel said. "It was just all about telling a story. That and having lots and lots of fun and making the audience continually guess where it's going to go."
In the series premiere, the press discover Dottie's cancer diagnosis. Sarandon said even if Dottie dies of cancer, she will still appear as the voice in her family's head.
"I'm Jiminy Cricket," Sarandon said. "I'm going to appear on everybody's shoulder. I'll be around as long as they'll have me."
For his part, Adkins considers himself a novice in television.
"I've already achieved more than I would have ever allowed myself to dream," he said.
Monarch moves to its regular time slot Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EDT/PDT starting Sept. 20.