Wayne Newton On 'Hoodwinked Too,' Why He Still Loves Vegas
Wayne Newton has performed over 30,000 solo shows and recorded 165 albums. Now Newton, a.k.a Mr. Las Vegas, is lending his signature voice to Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, an animated film about the new adventures of some familiar fairy tale characters.
Newton, who hails from Norfolk, Va., is best known for his song, "Danke Sheon," the first single that brought his soft-yet-burly voice fame. Newton began his career singing in local bars, clubs, and theaters in Newark, Ohio, where he spent part of his childhood with his brother Jerry. During his junior year of high school, he was discovered by a Las Vegas agent based on his performance on the Lew King Ranger show. He and his brother performed together for five years doing six shows a day and made several appearances during that time on the Jackie Gleason Show and spent over 40 years being a Las Vegas stage star. Today, Newton is such a Las Vegas staple, that the main terminal in McCarren International Airport is named after him.
Aside from singing, Newton has taken on other television projects, such as the show, The Entertainment on E! in 2005 and he was a cast member on Dancing With The Stars in 2007 with professional dancer, Cheryl Burke as his partner.
In Hoodwinked Too, Newton got to play Jimmy “The Snitch” 10-Strings, a character slightly out of his comfort zone. “I like playing the bad guy sometimes because there are different colors to bad,” he told Uinterview exclusively. “You could be a bad boy or you could be a slimeball or you could be the guy you don’t want to mess with. A good guy is just a good guy, and that’s easy to do.”
That’s a good question. I had done some video work, but about two years ago [Hoodwinked Too! director] Mike Disa called me and said, “You know for Hoodwinked Too!, I’m thinking about creating a character around you — his name is Jimmy 10-Strings.” And he told me a little bit about the fact that he’s a snitch.
"Snitch" is one of the magic words that you never want to hear yourself referred to as. Anyway, Mike asked me, “Would this be a character you’d be interested in playing? Because I don’t want to go through all the trouble to write it and you turn it down.” And I said, “Well, Mike, I’d love to play it as long as you give me certain freedoms of how to play it.” For example, calling someone a snitch is not a compliment. And yes, we all know they exist, but in the days that I was coming up in the lounges a snitch didn’t live very long — career wise or otherwise. So I told Mike I wanted to play him more like Dean Martin, and he said he was going to go ahead and write him and then we'd talk about it. Well, about two years go by, and I don’t hear a thing. And then one day Mike calls me and says, “Listen, the reason I didn’t call back sooner is because some of the people who became involved earlier wanted to try some other actors and frankly they just didn’t work. And the reason they didn’t work is because I wrote this part for you” and he said, “Would you still be interested?” and I said “sure.” He said, “Well the problem is, we have to do this within two weeks.” And he said, “The final cut has to be ready and shown in two weeks.” And I said, “I’m ready, come on up.”
Yes, we did it in Las Vegas. We did two days of dialogue and then two days of music.
No. Not at all. And in fact, as we were [recording], I would have to ask Mike, "Why would Jimmy 10-Strings say this?" And he would tell me what led up to it and where it would go from there.
I think that you can get really comfortable when you achieve success and people tend to recognize you. If people know of Wayne Newton at all, then most of them have an image of who he is. I’ve tried to have a good time with that image. With Ford Fairlane, Vegas Vacation, Best of the Best and those kind of characters. Most of them were not good people. I like playing the bad guy sometimes because there are different colors to bad. You could be a bad boy or you could be a slimeball or you could be the guy you don’t want to mess with. A good guy is just a good guy, and that’s easy to do.
Well, I just finished another film called 40 West, which was accepted in the Switzerland Film Festival. I’m also in the process of doing a documentary, and I’m still working Vegas and touring [around the country]. Last month, I was in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Minneapolis. I still do what drives me, what makes me want to wake up in the morning. You know, it is wonderful that I can take my daughter and go to a movie that all of us can enjoy, knowing that one day she will be able to look back at it and find the humor that maybe she didn’t find the first time.
Funny you should say that. When the recording [for Hoodwinked Too!] was all over, I asked [Dias], “Are you thinking about doing Hoodwinked 3?” And he said, “Yes.” And I said, “Just promise me that Jimmy 10-Strings is still going to be alive." And he said, "I can promise that.'"