“Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” That’s the kind of dialogue audiences need to prepare for when they tune in to Monarch, the new musical drama premiering on FOX September 11th. Poised to be one of biggest hits of the fall, the show follows the journey of creating a country music dynasty. With Susan Sarandon and Trace Adkins portraying the heads of the fictional, famed Roman family, the show kicks off right away with all the mystery and scandal you can handle — and then piles on some more! So what can fans expect from the debut season? We talked to star Kevin Cahoon to find out!
Kevin plays Earl, the right-hand man, confidante, and stylist of Susan Sarandon’s’ character Dottie, the matriarch of the Roman family. His character is inspired by Earl Cox, a legendary makeup and hair stylist for just about every iconic country star you can imagine. What drew Kevin to the role was how closely Earl would be to all of the action within the family. “I knew that this character was going to know all the secrets, know where the bodies were buried. Know who was backstabbing, who,” he explained.
And backstabbing there is a-plenty of, right from the start. The show, which is a wild cross between Dynasty, Nashville, and Glee, follows the family of country music legends through a bucket of scandals, all with Kevin’s character in the wings, to add some levity and a bit of pizzazz to the mix by just being himself. “He’s fantastically quippy in a Steel Magnolias kind of way,” Kevin adds, “but he’s also the gatekeeper. If you want to get to Dottie, or you want to get to Nikki or Gigi, you go through Earl.”
Nikki and Gigi are the Roman family daughters, played by Anna Friel and Beth Ditto, who struggle to find their own spotlight in the country music world after following in the footsteps of their parents. However, off the bat, Earl seems closest to matriarch Dottie, giving Kevin the opportunity work alongside Oscar-winner Sarandon, which was truly a highlight for him. “She is the easiest person to talk to, first of all,” Kevin explains, “so she gets you in, right away. There is no sort of facade of legend about her. She is just an expert at her craft.”
Ironically, working with Susan means that Kevin can now count himself lucky enough to have worked with both of the stars of the beloved film, Thelma and Louis. Just prior to the pandemic, Kevin starred alongside Geena Davis in the hit Netflix show, Glow. “I don’t know how the universe planned this,” he teased. “But I have now worked with Thelma and Louise. I’m hoping for my Brad Pitt phone call in a minute, but I’m not holding my breath.”
It might not be such a far-fetched idea, given that Monarch, before even hitting the airwaves, has managed to wrangle some huge names to guest stars for the first lineup of episodes. Expect to see folks like Shania Twain, Little Big Town, and Martina McBride rub shoulders with the cast, and the door is wide open for anyone else to join in on the fun. But Kevin has his heart set on someone very special to pop in. “1,000% Dolly Parton,” he says without missing a beat, before also name-dropping Reba McEntire and k.d. lang.
And while some big names show up, some big names have lent their music to the show’s first season. While country music reigns supreme, expect to hear some pop covers as well. Kevin teases that ‘Juice’ by Lizzo will show up at some point (which you can watch above), and a cover of ‘Watermelon Sugar’ by Harry Styles. Just like Glee, the show will bounce between covers of hit songs and original music. Kevin is particularly proud of the “fantastic” original song, ‘American Cowgirl’ that Anna Friel sings, which is on Spotfiy now.
So what can Kevin tease about the season to come? Not much, but that is part of the thrill. Still, he makes it clear that there will be nothing but twists and turns every time fans tune in. “You know, they say that country music is three chords and the truth,” he says. “ With the Romans, it’s like 18 stanzas, four chords, 10 bridges and the truth… is a little murky.”
And his character, Earl? “ Earl wants to be everyone’s best friend. He wants to be on everyone’s side,” Kevin teases. “So, if he has to work one person, if he has to work another person, if he has to work a few people, he’ll do what he has to do to survive.”
Catch the series premiere of Monarch on Sunday, Sept. 11, before it makes its time period premiere Tuesday, Sept. 20 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)