TORONTO — With her son now 18 and the usual parental demands of school runs and lunches behind her, Canadian pop-country superstar Shania Twain has found herself with more time and mental space to devote to other things.
The Timmins, Ont.-raised singer-songwriter first dabbled in the craft in a 2017 episode of the Comedy Central series "Broad City," playing an exaggerated version of herself as a client at the gym of series co-star Abbi Jacobson.
Then she got a call "out of the blue" from her friend — two-time Oscar-nominated actor John Travolta — asking her to play his girlfriend in last year's action drama "Trading Paint."
Now she's moving up, up, up in her acting career with her biggest role yet, playing the mother of a Christian singer in the new film "I Still Believe," from directors Jon and Andrew Erwin.
"I'm just getting started with all this and it's been a new discovery of another area that I want to explore artistically," Twain said in a recent phone interview from Las Vegas, where she has the residency show "Let's Go!" at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino's Zappos Theater.
"I'm learning a lot. I really enjoyed getting out of myself and taking on another character."
KJ Apa of "Riverdale" fame stars in the music biopic, portraying the real-life story of Grammy-nominated Christian singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp. Twain plays his mother, alongside Gary Sinise as his father.
The story, which hit theatres Friday, follows Camp's relationship with his late first wife, Melissa, played by Britt Robertson. The faith-themed drama shows them falling in love as she's diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer.
Twain said she found it to be a powerful and inspiring story that reinforced her own faith "in believing in love, primarily — that love is at the root of all healing and understanding."
The five-time Grammy Award winner also connected to the idea of expressing emotions through music.
"And then of course, just tragedy and coping as a family and trying to support each other through difficult times — I'm no stranger to that," said Twain, who grew up poor, went through a 2008 divorce from producer Robert (Mutt) Lange, and was struck by vocal issues caused by Lyme disease. She's now married to Frederic Thiebaud.
Twain hasn't taken acting classes yet but she figures she would do so if she were to take on "a more principal role" or if a director wanted her to.
"I actually really enjoy taking direction, because I'm often giving direction," Twain said.
"I play that role a lot, directing people based on my own vision, so there's something really stress-free about letting other people direct and just being a good student and watching and learning."
Twain said she isn't fixed on any particular type of role. She just needs "to keep experimenting" and is open to drama and comedy.
Asked if she has any other acting projects on the horizon, Twain said she has "a lot of irons in the fire."
"I'm going to have a busy life, I think, which is great," she said.
"I feel like there's so much to explore, there's still so much to do, and acting is definitely one of those platforms that has endless possibilities and potential. So I'm very excited about it."
Fans of Twain's music need not fret.
She said she's writing new songs as she also celebrates the 25th anniversary of her smash second studio album, "The Woman in Me," which fired up many a line dance with hits including "Any Man of Mine" and "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?"
"I have more capacity freed up to create and be more adventurous with my career," she said.
"I really love being on the microphone now more than I have in many, many years. I'm very much into my songwriting right now. I'm writing all the time. I'm very restless. I like to be productive and active. So acting is going to fill in some of that space for me."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 13, 2020.
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press