Country music star Trace Adkins performs during the 2010 Miss USA pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
Country music star Trace Adkins performs during the 2010 Miss USA pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada May 16, 2010. Reuters

Country star Trace Adkins' career has gone to the dogs -- sort of.

He's spent the past few weeks judging an advertising jingle contest for Waggin' Train dog treats, and recently stepped into the recording studio with winner Dewey Longuski of Mason, Michigan, whose jingle Headin' Out to Tasty Town will be recorded to promote the canine food.

But that is truly just a sideshow to the 49-year-old singer's career. Adkins is preparing to host the upcoming American Country Awards in Las Vegas on December 5 with Kristin Chenoweth, and he's been acting in movies The First Ride of Wyatt Earp and The Healer, both due out next year.

The Earp film depicts Wild West marshal Wyatt Earp (Val Kilmer) recounting his treacherous search for a murderer in Dodge City, Kansas. In The Healer, Adkins will return to a role he's played previously -- an angel of death.

Movie projects aside, singing and songwriting remain the heart and soul of Adkins' work. His hits include Honky Tonk Badonkadonk, You're Gonna Miss This and Just Fishin'. He says his new single, Million Dollar View, is about his wife, Rhonda. And he reminds her of that every time she gets upset with him and he finds himself all alone -- in the dog house.

Q: You're hosting the American Country Awards in December in Las Vegas. Are you very involved in the show's planning?

A: When I told them I'd host last year, I wasn't sure if I would be very good at hosting a show like that. One of the things I insisted on was that I be able to help with writing the script, or at least be involved in what I would say. If I think something isn't funny, I'll tell the writers, and then I have to stand behind that and offer some suggestions as to what I think might work. It's been a lot of fun to be involved with it, and see how a show like that all comes together.

Q: And you just finished a movie with Val Kilmer called The First Ride of Wyatt Earp. I remember you said one time that you would love to be in a Western, even if you got killed in the first scene. Is that what happens in this movie?

A: No (laughs). I just had a one-day shoot for this one, but I don't get killed. It is a movie about the early life of Wyatt Earp and my character, Milflin Kenedy, is the father of a young man who supposedly killed a woman Earp was fond of in Dodge City. I guess Earp led the posse that went after him.

Q: You have played some pretty interesting parts in movies, and you have another one coming up in The Healer.

A: Yeah, this will be the third time I've played the Angel of Death in a movie, and they can keep on casting me in that part if they want to. (laughs) This is a dark movie, and I am the driver, or the person who drives people to hell. I read the entire script even though, again, I was just there for one day, because it's a really interesting story.

Q: This year is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and I know you are very interested in that era's history. Are you involved in any recordings or memorials.

A: I'm not involved in any music, but I've told my manager that I want to be as involved as I can be these next few years with the Civil War Trust and helping to preserve the Civil War battlefields that are in disrepair. It is so important for people to be able to be a part of history by being able to go to these places and see where history was made. History means so much more to people when they can stand on the ground where one of these battles took place and hear about it and learn about it.

Q: And you judged the jingle-writing contest. That must've been a fun diversion.

A: You know we haven't had any really good jingles out there in a while, so I think Dewey's jingle will be a good way to reintroduce (people) to advertising again.

Q: Were you surprised at the quality of entries?

A: No, I wasn't. There were some really good ones, and the final five who came to Nashville I think represented all the different genres of music that entered the contest.