In 1983, John Mellencamp started talking about making a movie. He began working with author Larry McMurtry ("Lonesome Dove"), although Mellencamp cautioned, "I don't know when it'll be finished. It could take some time."
He was right. Almost nine years later, "Falling from Grace," the film McMurtry wrote for Mellencamp to star in and direct, will open in select cities.
"It's a character study," says Mellencamp, who plays Buddy Parks, a country singer who leaves his small-town home to make it big and then returns with his wife and child after several years of living in Los Angeles. The film explores the family's culture shock and the town's reaction to its hero's return.
Mellencamp says the promotional videos for his rock 'n' roll NTC songs helped him with the part but that running a group better prepared him for directing.
"It's almost exactly like being the leader of a band," he says. "In rock 'n' roll you've got the roadies; in movies you've got all the technical people. Then there's the talent -- the guys in the band and the actors. In both jobs, you move these people around and direct them.
"I didn't like working with the actors and actresses as much, though. The thing I enjoyed most was the camera designing -- blocking out and setting up the shots. That was really something."
Columbia plans to open "Falling From Grace," which co-stars Mariel Hemingway, in a few cities in early February, with a broader run likely at a later date.
Mellencamp won't say whether this is the beginning of a second career.
"I might do it again, if the right thing comes along," he says.