Ricky Schroder first became a star as a nine-year-old in "The Champ" and a teen idol in "Silver Spoons." Since then the 45-year-old actor has transitioned into a talented actor ( "NYPD Blue") and a producer. His most recent work was "The Fighting Season," a documentary series about the war in Afghanistan. The married father of four can be seen this Thursday, Dec. 10 in the NBC movie "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors." He spoke to FOX411 about the film and his career.
FOX411: You play Dolly Parton's dad in the movie.
Ricky Schroder:Yes, the movie's set in 1955 when Dolly was 10-years-old and I play her father Lee Parton. Dolly and her sister Stella were very involved with the movie all the way through, developing the script and casting the movie and I was flattered because Dolly said I was the number one choice for her to play her father and I asked her why and she said I had qualities that reminded her of him. She told me some stories and anecdotes. He was a man of few words. He didn't waste words. He never went to school. He was very smart she said but not educated by books. Later in life people had to read him the Bible. He wasn't a Christian. She came from a very religious Christian background and he wasn't a Christian for a lot of his life but then later in life he wanted to know about the Bible so people would read him the Bible. I don't know if I should be flattered or not. Dolly thinks I'm very much like her father who never went to school!
FOX411: Were you amazed at how poor they were?
Schroder: Yes, the coat that Dolly's mom made for her out of rags that inspired the song. Dolly wore that to school as a child and they made fun of her and ripped it from her body and she didn't have a shirt underneath because she only owned one shirt and on that day the shirt was being washed. It's shocking how poor they were.
FOX411: Would you say this is a Christmas movie?
Schroder: Oh yes this is a movie for the whole family to watch. There's not many movies that the entire family can enjoy together and I think this is one of them.
FOX411: What are your Christmas traditions?
Schroder: One of the traditions we like to have is no stress. During the regular course of life it's so stressful and everybody's so busy so one of the things we consciously try to do is spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking meals, enjoying each other. We play a lot of games during the holidays. We try to enjoy the day and not be distracted by the many things in life that can distract you.
FOX411: Does religion play a big part in your life?
Schroder: I used to pray as a child. As many people go through their journey in life, sometimes they pray more times than others. We do attend church. I wouldn't say every Sunday, but I would say once, perhaps twice every month. I am reading the New Testament right now. I'm starting the Book of Luke. I don't consider myself an extremely religious person but at the same time I do believe there is higher power.
FOX411: You were a child star. How did you avoid the pitfalls?
Schroder: There's many people that helped me along the way. My family, the support of my wife to people in the business I've known a long time. There were always producers and casting directors along the way who gave me a hands up when I needed one. I wasn't the most social creature as a young man so the parties that can come become the focus, that was never my focus. I was a Dad at 21. I had to work and be professional and provide for my family.
FOX411: Is it hard to reinvent yourself?
Schroder: Yes, having the willpower to not give up when sometimes things felt hopeless because you hadn't worked in a year or your last project was not well received. That just takes tenacity to overcome those moments that I felt deeply. But I love what I do and I love producing and directing.