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Every time you see Dolly Parton take on an acting role, she’s usually playing a version of herself. After all, Dolly Parton is a fascinating character who has captured the world’s imagination for decades now.

With her new movie, “Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love,” Dolly is taking that task of playing a version of herself to new heights. You may have heard Dolly say she patterned her outrageous look after the “town trollop” in her East Tennessee hometown. Now, Dolly is actually playing that woman, whom she calls the “Painted Lady,” opposite the young actress who plays the child version of Dolly.

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If you’re having trouble keeping all that straight, Dolly herself tells Rare Country acting opposite a younger version of herself was a bit surreal.

She says, “I actually had those [surreal] feelings last year just watching the movie and producing it and being involved in it. But I just did the introductions and the voice-overs, but this year I get to play the ‘Painted Lady,’ the town trollop, that I patterned my look after when I was little. I thought it’d be so cool for her to be in the movie. So, I’m getting to play that with Little Dolly. It’s like a past and future. So, it’s going to be fun.”

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You can bet Dolly has some very specific notes on how she should be done as the “Painted Lady.”

Says Dolly, “She had the really big hair. And the really long eyelashes and the really red lipstick and the red fingernails, and the really big, you know. So, we had to do that.”

In “Christmas of Many Colors,” the “Painted Lady” has a hard time gaining acceptance from the church folk in town. Dolly has been working to bridge that gap between the carnal and the eternal her entire career. Just look at this sexy “Playboy” magazine cover Dolly shot in 1978. You can bet she was onstage singing a gospel song just days or months after that issue hit newsstands.

“By the way, that ‘Playboy’ picture is not a faith-based picture,” Dolly says with a laugh.

There is a message of faith running throughout “Christmas of Many Colors,” and it’s easy to see the parallels between the “Painted Lady” and Dolly as she wrestles with her faith. It all fits into the fascinating and ongoing story of Dolly’s life.

“You now what, ‘I am a seeker. A poor sinful creature,'” Dolly tells us, quoting her 1975 hit “The Seeker.” “I’m just doing my best out there. I don’t try to hide anything. This is who I was, and this is who I am.”

“Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” airs at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday, Nov. 30 on NBC.

Hunter Kelly is a senior correspondent for Rare Country. Follow him on Twitter @Hunterkelly.
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