Pop Culture

John Corbett’s new role: musician

This just might be the role actor John Corbett was born to play.

Known for playing the handsome non-Greek boyfriend in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” the philosophical radio DJ on “Northern Exposure” and Carrie’s boyfriend on “Sex and the City,” Corbett has taken a hiatus from acting to launch a music career.

His debut album — a collection of country-rock songs penned and performed by some of Nashville’s finest talents — comes out April 4 on his own Fun Bone Records label.

With his long hair, boots and faded Bob Dylan T-shirt, the 6-foot-5 Corbett sure looked the part of aspiring country rocker during a recent interview. The only thing missing was the cowboy hat.

“I think it’s been a big shock to people,” he said. “They didn’t know I’d be any good at it. A lot of people think I just picked up a guitar, took some lessons and started singing. But I think I’m a better singer and guitar player than actor.”

Country in his soulCorbett, 43, has been playing music since he was a kid in Wheeling, W.Va. Back then, he played bass and sang songs by KISS, Styx, Rush and Cheap Trick in garage bands.

He’d always been around country music (his uncle owned a club where Buck Owens once performed), but didn’t start really listening to it until the late 1980s, when artists such as Dwight Yoakam and Travis Tritt were bringing a rock sensibility to the genre.

“It’s pretty much all I’ve listened to since then,” Corbett said.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Neil P. Mockford / GC Images

    Image: Celebrity Sightings On The Set Of 'A Hundred Streets' - August 8, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. on the "Let's Be Cops," red carpet, Selena Gomez is immortalized in wax and more.

  • Image: Celebrity Sightings On The Set Of 'A Hundred Streets' - August 8, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Idris Elba

    Actor Idris Elba seen on the set of :A Hundred Streets" on Aug. 8 in London.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of RADiUS-TWC's "The One I Love" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass

    Actors Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass arrive at the premiere of RADIUS-TWC's "The One I Love" at the Vista Theatre on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of RADiUS-TWC's "The One I Love" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nick Kroll

    Actor Nick Kroll arrives at the premiere of RADIUS-TWC's "The One I Love" at the Vista Theatre on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Damon Wayans Jr., Jake Johnson

    Actors Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson arrive at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Cast member D'Arcy poses at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" in Hollywood

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    James D'Arcy

    James D'Arcy arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: BESTPIX: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Arrivals

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Julianne Hough

    Actress Julianne Hough arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Arrivals

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Hannah Simone

    Actress Hannah Simone arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nina Dobrev

    Actress Nina Dobrev arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nicole Murphy, Brandy Norwood

    TV personality Nicole Murphy and singer Brandy Norwood attend The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception at W Hollywood on Aug. 7 in Hollywood.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Tara Reid

    Actress Tara Reid attends The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception at W Hollywood on Aug. 7 in Hollywood.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: "Phoenix" Opening Night

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    James Wirt, Julia Stiles

    Actors James Wirt and Julia Stiles stand on stage during the opening night curtain call for "Phoenix" at the Cherry Lane Theatre on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: "Phoenix" Opening Night

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    AnnaSophia Robb

    Actress AnnaSophia Robb attends the opening night performance of "Phoenix" at the Cherry Lane Theatre on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Madame Tussauds New York To Unveil New, Never-Before-Seen Selena Gomez Wax Figure

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Selena Gomez

    A boy gives the wax figure of Selena Gomez a kiss at the unveiling of the new new, never-before-seen Selena Gomez wax figure at Madame Tussauds New York on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Chris Martin Visits "The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Chris Martin

    Chris Martin of Coldplay performs during the Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show at Z100 Studio on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Apple Store Soho Presents: Meet the Actors: Michael Fassbender And Domhnall Gleeson - "Frank"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Michael Fassbender

    Actor Michael Fassbender attends "Meet the Actor" at Apple Store Soho on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Mickey Rourke

    Actor Mickey Rourke is seen at "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Jordana Brewster

    Actress Jordana Brewster waves outisde of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: G. Garvin Live

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Keshia Knight Pulliam

    Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam attends G. Garvin Live at Buckhead Theatre on Aug. 7 in Atlanta.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Reese Witherspoon

    Actress Reese Witherspoon is seen on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Miley Cyrus

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Miley Cyrus

    Singer Miley Cyrus performs in concert at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 7 in Nashville.

    AP / AP
  • Image: 67th Locarno Film Festival - Day 2

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Melanie Griffith

    Actress Melanie Griffith attends a press conference during the 67th Locarno Film Festival on Aug. 7 in Locarno, Switzerland.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Lily Allen

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Lily Allen

    Singer Lily Allen performs in concert at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 7 in Nashville.

    AP / AP
  • Image: "The Expendables 3" Paris Photocall At Cinema UGC Normandie

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    'Expendables 3'

    The stars of "Expendables 3," from left, Kellan Lutz, Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes attend "Expendables 3" at Cinema UGC Normandie on Aug. 7 in Paris.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Meet The FilmMakers: "The Rover"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Robert Pattinson

    Actor Robert Pattinson speaks during the Meet The Filmmakers event for "The Rover" at Apple Store, Regent Street on Aug. 7 in London.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In New York City - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman

    Actors Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman are spotted filming Bateman's "The Family Fang" in Westchester, New York, on Aug. 7.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Africa: New Partnership Models For Growth

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Akon

    Grammy-nominated artist Akon, who is the founder of Akon Lighting Africa Project, discusses at the US-Africa Leaders Summit "Africa: New Parnership Models for Growth" news conference, held in Washington, DC, on Aug. 7, the progress that African heads of state have made.

    Getty Images / Getty Images

A former steel-factory worker, he got into acting on a whim after he’d moved to California. He was attending college and decided to sit in on a friend’s drama class.

The experience led to college theater productions and TV commercials. He landed a guest spot in the popular series “The Wonder Years” and broke through with his role as the laid back, philosophy-spouting Chris Stevens in “Northern Exposure” in 1990.

He’s appeared in many movies and TV shows since then, including HBO’s cult fave “Sex and the City.”

But he felt he was getting typecast as the nice guy love interest and grew disenchanted with Hollywood.

He reached a turning point in 2004 when he was invited to be a presenter at the Country Music Television awards in Nashville.

“I met people like Montgomery Gentry, Joe Nichols, Keith Urban. I love those guys. I had a connection to them that I never really had as an actor. On their downtime, actors talk about somebody’s great performance or some great play they had seen — theater talk. I’d listen, but I wanted to say, ‘You guys hear the new Travis Tritt record?’

“I can come here [Nashville] and say, ‘You hear the new Travis Tritt record?’ and they know every cut and all the writers. I thought, ‘Where have you guys been all of my life?”’

Inspired by his heroesCorbett decided then he’d record an album. A couple of major labels expressed interest, but he didn’t get the offer he wanted and ended up digging into his own pocket.

Many of the 12 songs — written by tunesmiths such as Hal Ketchum, Jon Randall, Darrell Scott, Tim Nichols, Rivers Rutherford and Mark Selby — have an earthy Southern rock feel with female backing vocals, harmonica and organ. Guests include Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman and former Wet Willie singer Jimmy Hall.

The first single, “Good to Go,” debuted at No. 48 on Billboard’s country singles chart — the best showing by a new artist on an independent label in a long time.

“I think I’m making the kind of music Montgomery Gentry, Keith Urban and Dierks Bentley are making,” Corbett said. “A lot of these songs could be on their records, too.”

His girlfriend, actress Bo Derek, with whom he lives in California, shot the cover photo of a denim-clad Corbett with lamb-chop sideburns and an acoustic guitar.

He’s been on the road visiting radio stations, opening concerts for acts such as ZZ Top and Charlie Daniels, and headlining shows at 600- and 700-seat venues. He recently completed a three-night stand at Tootsies Orchid Lounge, a storied Nashville honky-tonk.

Asked if he’ll return to acting, he makes clear that music is his passion and acting his job — and right now he doesn’t much feel like going back to work.

“If I had to pick one, I’d pick music. But I don’t have to pick one. I’ve had a great time making movies, and I’ll probably do another one at some point.

“I’ve cleared my schedule for two years because the guys in my band needed me, too. They didn’t want to go out on the road and then me go off and make a movie and leave them hanging. I’m about six months into that, and I’m having the time of my life.”

TOP