‘I’m very grateful and thankful to God that he came into my life, at this period of my life’

‘I’m very grateful and thankful to God that he came into my life, at this period of my life’

Rex Linn and Reba McEntire at the 2022 Academy Awards. (Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)

This week, country superstar Reba McEntire returns to the screen as traveling “loose ball” circuit judge Kim Wheeler in a new Lifetime movie, Reba McEntire’s The Hammer — and making a comeback, too, McEntire’s part , is her off-screen love interest, Rex Linn. McEntire and Linn, who began dating in 2020 but dated back to 1991 when they co-starred in one of McEntire’s first TV projects, The Gambler Returns with Kenny Rogers, have also worked together on Young Sheldon and Big Sky. But McEntire seems especially pleased to share screen time with Linn’s The Hammer character Bart Crawford, described in a Lifetime press release as “a mysterious cowboy with unknown motives.”

“Well, I thought it was pretty cool that he also did a very handsome mysterious cowboy,” McEntire tells Yahoo Entertainment with a sly, flirtatious smile.

The natural and easy chemistry between McEntire and Linn is readily apparent in all of their Hammer scenes. McEntire reveals that she was “a little rusty on my acting” before shooting the film, and says that Linn “helped me tremendously. … By the time we got to do our scenes together, it was like talking to each other. I love working with Rex. He’s a great actor, and I just get the biggest kick out of how he chooses to do a scene and then change it and do it in a different way. I’ve learned a lot from his.”

The real-life, end-of-life love story between McEntire and Linn is really the stuff of Lifetime movies. While McEntire admits that when she met Linn 32 years ago — not long after she married her second husband, Narvel Blackstock — no sparks flew, they “just maintained the friendship. And timing is everything, and everything happens for a reason.”

When McEntire made an appearance on Linn’s show Young Sheldon in January 2020, some four years after her 26-year marriage to Blackstock ended, she and Linn reconnected and went out to dinner, though she “didn’t know it at the time that it was a date.” In fact, when Linn first asked her out, she declined. “I said, ‘Can I get a rain check?’ I had a long day and I was exhausted.” She eventually met Linn, Young Sheldon actress Melissa Peterman (McEntire’s former co-star and current The Hammer actress), and her tour manager, Marne McLyman, at a restaurant in Sherman Oaks, California.

The story continues

“I left [McLyman] out at the servant’s station; I just had to go in and see Rex. And, you know, Melissa and Marne said it was a date!” says McEntire. “We just had a really nice evening and I hugged her neck goodbye to get in the car with Marne to go back to the hotel. And I said, “Come see me.” And on June 16, he did.”

Reba McEntire and Rex Linn on ABC’s “Big Sky: Deadly Trails.” (Photo: Michael Moriatis/ABC via Getty Images)

McEntire and Linn’s second in-person meeting probably would have happened much sooner than June 2020, had unfortunate life and world circumstances not intervened. But they maintained a distant friendship until Linn could take McEntire up on her invitation. After McEntire returned to Nashville after their fateful Sherman Oaks dinner, she and Linn “kept texting,” but alas, she soon learned her mother had bladder cancer. “I was texting him and he said, ‘Hey, call me anytime if you need to talk.’ And I just called him and we talked every day; I think it was around February 1st. And we’ve talked every day since then,” McEntire recalled.

McEntire’s mother died on March 14, 2020, but that same month the COVID-19 pandemic began, so Linn couldn’t come out to Nashville to visit her. But he and McEntire eventually reunited in June. “I just loved it even more for getting on a plane during the pandemic,” McEntire gushes. “So it was true love and it lasted, and we’re having more fun now than when we first got together.”

McEntire, now 67, didn’t expect to fall in love again, with Linn, 66, or anyone else — “I wasn’t looking for it, I wasn’t looking at it at all,” she insists — and when Yahoo Entertainment asked her to offer advice to any singles of a certain age who might think their chances of finding romance are over, she laughs, “Well, I promise, I’m the last person you should start asking for love advice. divorced twice!”

More seriously, McEntire, who was also married to wrestling champion and rancher Charlie Battles from 1976 to 1987, replies, “It’s a good idea to make a mental note of past comments from past relationships , about the things you did wrong. and analyze it – admit if it was right, or if it was wrong, what I did and how to be a better partner, to be a better listener, to be more attentive, to take more time. Instead of knowing there are 50,000 things I’d rather be doing, maybe sit down and watch a football game, or four [games] in one day. Yes, this is true love! I’m a bigger football fan now – that’s what came of it! But wow, I love hanging out with Rex. We are good friends. We love each other, and it’s just really, really special. And I am very grateful and thankful to God for coming into my life, in this period of my life. I mean, it’s the best.”

Another fantastic development of McEntire’s personal and professional partnership with Linn has been the opportunity to take on edgier, darker, more dramatic acting roles alongside him, whether in David E. Kelley’s crime thriller Big Sky (in in which she and Lin portray a married couple) or in The Hammer, which tackles serious topics like drug policy reform and sexual misconduct. “Just to do something different, more challenging… it’s a lot of fun to go dark,” says McEntire. “I’m known as a bubbly, high-speed person, and going to that dark place was just cool. It was a pleasure to play with him.”

But as it turns out, in the ’90s, McEntire had an opportunity to take on another kind of anti-type dramatic role: Molly Brown in “Titanic,” which eventually went to Oscar winner Kathy Bates. Titanic could have changed the entire course of McEntire’s acting career, but as he has already pointed out, timing really is everything.

“I met with James Cameron. I went and auditioned in person and I wanted the part really, really bad,” McEntire reveals. “But when our schedules didn’t match, I had to go with my schedule [concert] tour, because I had my whole band, my team, all the seats already booked. And when they said, “No, not these three months; we need these three months,” I had to go through, because you have a lot of livelihoods sitting there looking at you. And if we had moved those dates, well, we wouldn’t have gotten the seats we wanted. … I wish I could have [acted in Titanic], but you have to take care of your people. And they [the band] were number one.”

More than 25 years later, McEntire has no regrets. Her career is busier than ever, with “many plates spinning” in 2023, including her first headlining concerts at two iconic venues, the Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Garden; “Much more acting in development,” possibly with Linn; and other ventures like a new restaurant in Oklahoma called Reba’s Place, a clothing line at Dillard’s, a shoe line with Justin Boots and a new lifestyle book. And she’s certainly enjoying her fun style at the moment.

“I’m very grateful, very grateful, and I absolutely did not think, even three years ago, that I would be as busy as I am now,” says McEntire, beaming. “But I like to be busy. I like to work. Rex and I both love to work – but I like to play hard, too. I like to go on vacation. I like to see the world. And we’re going to do some more of that now that we’ve worked so hard in 2022. But boy, when the job offers come, if it’s something you really want to do, we’ll do it – if they let us!”

Reba McEntire’s The Hammer, produced by and starring McEntire, premieres January 7 at 8pm on Lifetime. Watch McEntire’s full and extended Yahoo Entertainment interview above for more discussion of the film, as well as her acting debut in Kevin Bacon’s 1990 cult classic The Tremors, the challenges of being a woman in country music , and whether she and Linn will ever record a musical duet.

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

Follow Lyndsey on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , Amazon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *