Judging by his loathsome turns in 1996's Sling Blade and the current box-office smash Panic Room, Dwight Yoakam seems to have this whole thug routine down pat. Still, the country singer-turned-actor admits he doesn't really get why Hollywood continues to peg him as Public Enemy No. 1.

"It's ironic, because if you interviewed anybody that grew up with me, [they'd say I would be] the last person to play the bad guy in movies," the 45-year-old Honky Tonk Man says. "It just wouldn't happen.

"Maybe it's because of that," he adds. "Maybe it's because... I wasn't subjected to that kind of behavior at home. Maybe if you're too close to it you wouldn't be able to play it."

In Panic Room, Yoakam portrays a vicious burglar terrorizing Jodie Foster and her family. Among his character's more despicable acts: Depriving Foster's diabetic daughter of a life-saving insulin injection and beating her ex-husband to nearly an inch of his life.

"Look, there's a primal [evil] part of everybody," he confesses. "There's rage in any individual; you've got to kind of go there in some of these characters and let it fly forth."