Meredith has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Meredith may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.
LeAnn Rimes
Credit: Caitlin Cronenberg/CMT

LeAnn Rimes concedes that the setup for her CMT movie Reel Love (premiering Nov. 13, 7 p.m. ET) isn’t exactly original: A hardworking city girl (her lawyer character Holly), travels back to the country (sweet home Alabama, where the fishing’s good) for a family emergency and begins to fall for a guy who likes to fight with her (and pays more attention to her than her current boyfriend). But unlike most of the movies in that particular rom-com subgenre, this one doesn’t have you rolling your eyes when it’s decision time: Does she stay or does she go? That’s because the heart of the film is Holly’s relationship with her father (Burt Reynolds), the angler who has more than one “one who got away” in his life. Rebuilding that relationship rather than starting a new one with someone she barely knows is a more believable reason for a woman to contemplate uprooting her life. “Right. I agree with that,” Rimes laughs. “I was like, ‘Hold on, she falls in love in, like, two days?’ Which can happen, I totally understand.”

What’s not surprising is that Rimes has a couple great stories about working with Reynolds, who, for the first time in his career, gets to play a father-daughter relationship. “He’s such a prankster,” she says. “He started with me, and then he moved around to all of the women on the set sending them flowers saying, ‘Thanks for last night.’ He definitely made his rounds and made his presence known. We had a blast, we really did. We were taking pictures together for the poster, and he starts smelling my neck. He’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I forgot. I’m playing your dad not your love interest.’ Thanks, Burt. This was obviously at the end of it, so we’d really gotten to know each other, and I’m like, ‘Stop it!’ He cracks me up.”

On-camera, too, he’s more off the cuff than anyone she’s worked with. “There were some really intense moments of our scene together on the boat that got cut out. I wish they would have left them in,” she says. (She’s happy with the film though. In fact, “This is the first film that I’ve done that I’m watching going, Oh, I’m not cringing,” she laughs.) “But there were some really funny moments, too,” she continues. “Like, I really didn’t know that he was gonna gun the boat and throw me back [into the seat ]. He would say some smart-ass remark, and I guess I just instantly clicked with him, so I gave it back immediately. I’m like, Oh. Did I just say that to Burt Reynolds? Oh yeah, but I’m playing a character… The first scene I ever filmed with him, I really did have to yell at him. I basically shook hands with him and said, ‘Hi,’ and he was his flirty Burt self, which I loved so much. Then I started yelling at him, and after the first take, he came back and patted me on the back and was like, ‘Good going, kid.’ I thought Okay, I’m doing my job.”

Rimes, of course, related to the story. “I’m from really small town Mississippi, and there’s moments where I really wish that I had that back when I go through the hustle and bustle of just my life, and job, and living in L.A. There’s sometimes that I wish I could be content just sitting on a front porch of a house in Mississippi and just being that chill,” she says. “I don’t think I’ll ever get that back, which is kind of fun to play. We filmed it in very small town Canada, and the people were so sweet, they brought us food. You really kinda got into the whole vibe of the small town because we really were experiencing it.”

She plans to do more acting. She’s developing an ABC Family movie of the book Operation: Married By Christmas, which she’ll star in and produce. “The thing is, I did a holiday movie when I was 14 that Hallmark plays like six times every holiday, so I feel like it’s my duty to myself to do a new holiday movie as a woman and not a child,” she says. “So I’m like, ‘Yay! Maybe a new holiday movie everyone can play!” While she also hopes to hit the big screen, she won’t abandon music. She’s promoting her latest album, Lady & Gentlemen, on which she reinterprets songs penned for male artists (George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” Merle Haggard’s “The Bottle Let Me Down,” Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” and album co-producer Vince Gill’s “When I Call Your Name,” to name a few). There’s only one song that was on her original wish list that didn’t work for the album. “I’m huge a Marty Robbins fan. I grew up on him, my dad loved him. ‘El Paso’ is the only song that we got about halfway through, just playing around with it with Vince, and I went, ‘You know what, this is really, really made for a man. It’s the only song I’m having a hard time believing me singing.'” But there was also her one that got away: Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson.” “I didn’t really even think about that till a couple weeks ago,” she says. “I was just with Vince Gill [earlier this week] and I was like, ‘I think we forgot this song, but it’s so fun, I do it live anyway. Who cares.'”

Read more: