Sombrero from Barbarosa

A truly Texan movie

Print Page

Starring Texans Willie Nelson and Gary Busey, written by Texan Bill Wittliff, and set and filmed in Texas, Barbarosa is deeply tied to our state.

Barbarosa tells the story of a legendary outlaw, Barbarosa, who reluctantly partners with a naive young farmer, Karl, who is newly on the run. Both characters are forced into the Texas wilderness after unintentional violence, and pursued by people they once called family.

Director Fred Schepisi has turned Texas, where ‘Barbarosa’ was filmed, into an exotic wilderness, and used it to give the film’s outlaw story its strangeness and beauty.Janet Maslin, New York Times film critic

Barbarosa was Wittliff’s first screenplay and was based on a story his grandfather told him. Although written in 1973, the screenplay didn’t get much attention until Nelson read it seven years later and, only a few pages in, decided “I wanna be that guy.” He maintains that it was one of his favorite roles because “Barbarosa was just like me, misunderstood.”

Wittliff was a celebrated novelist, screenwriter, and photographer who often used his Texas roots as inspiration for his work and called Austin home until his death in 2019. Nelson, born and raised in Abbott, has called the Hill Country home since the 1970s, and is a Texas icon whose heritage is often front and center in his work. Busey was born in Goose Creek, on Galveston Bay, where his family lived until they moved to Tulsa when Gary was in the fourth grade.

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Sombrero from Barbarosa Artifact from Austin
Share Your Story

Make your mark on Texas History

Share Your Story
or
Browse All Stories

Read stories from people across Texas

Browse All Stories