NEW YORK – Singer Jessica Simpson makes her film debut this week in “The Dukes of Hazzard,” a movie version of the 1970s TV show, as the voluptuous Daisy Duke in a role many of her fans will enjoy from top to bottom.
Simpson pours herself into her role and into bikini tops and tight, short-shorts in the car-crazy, brainless, good ol’ Southern boy romp. And she is keen to continue her movie career — but Hilary Swank and Cate Blanchett can breathe easy for now.
“I’m not really into the deep drama roles,” said Simpson, who takes her wholesome, blonde bombshell persona seriously and is on the lookout for comedy material.
Hopefully she will find more comedy than offered in “Hazzard,” which strains to squeeze some raunchy fun in between a steady drone of car chases, car spins, car jumps and car caresses by Bo Duke, who loves his souped-up orange Dodge Charger best of all.
The movie that stars goofy Seann William Scott (of “American Pie”) and zany Johnny Knoxville (“Jackass”) as cousins Bo and Luke Duke, with a supporting cast that includes Burt Reynolds and Willie Nelson, opens on Friday.
Smiling and posing fetchingly through it all is Simpson, who soared to exalted U.S. celebrity status with platinum hit records fueled by the MTV reality series hit “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica” about her marriage to singer Nick Lachey that catapulted her to become one of America’s hottest pop icons.
“I wanted to see myself up on the big screen,” said Simpson, 25. Fans get to see a lot of Simpson as the rough-and-tumble — yet virtuous — Daisy. She is a member of the Duke clan, whose business is moonshine (home-made hard liquor) and who are at odds with the corrupt local law.
“When I found out they were making the movie, it was a dream role for me. I wanted people to know that I’m a strong woman. I went after this role as hard as I could,” Simpson said.
And that meant a lot of work preparing for the part. Simpson said she worked hard to get into shape for the role.
“I went straight to the gym. I had to look good in a bikini,” said Simpson. “When I found out I got the role, I hired a trainer, a dear friend from high school, and trained six days a week for two hours a day.
Simpson insists the role runs counter to her personality.
“I’m definitely shy. I don’t even walk around in my bathing suit at the beach,” she said.
“So it was definitely acting for me to drop the coat and be in a bikini and try to get my cousins out of trouble by using my body. That was definitely acting,” she said about a scene where she seduces a deputy sheriff named Enos, who is often called “Anus” for comic affect.
Simpson said there was a lot of trial and error in the design of her denim cut-offs, which were popularized by actress Catherine Bach in the TV show and in pin-up posters, and became known as Daisy Dukes.
“I had to feel comfortable. I had to be proud, had to walk confident,” Simpson said. “But they didn’t get too short. My butt cheeks were never hanging out.”
She also contributes some musical talent to the movie, as she teams up with Nelson on a version of Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 hit “These Boots Are Made For Walkin.”‘
Simpson, who is coming out with a new record of mostly her own compositions in November, said she would like to pattern her career on country singer and actress Dolly Parton.
“Dolly Parton is my favorite. I love Dolly so much as a woman, as an entertainer, as a personality,” she said, also mentioning Goldie Hawn and Lucille Ball as role models.
Simpson wears a dark wig as part of a disguise in the movie but does not think she would ever switch her hair coloring.
“I’m such a blonde. It just doesn’t make sense for me to have dark hair,” she said. “I don’t think people would take me seriously. They take me seriously as a blonde.”