Cheyenne Songwriter’s Music Featured In Hit Movie ‘LaRoy, Texas’

The critically acclaimed new movie 'LaRoy, Texas' has a perfect 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes and features a song by Cheyenne singer-songwriter Shawn Hess. The writer and director of the movie was a fan of Shawn's and thought his music was perfect for the film.

Andrew Rossi

May 09, 20244 min read

Cheyenne country music artist Shawn Hess has one of his songs, "World Away," featured in the hit movie "LaRoy, Texas."
Cheyenne country music artist Shawn Hess has one of his songs, "World Away," featured in the hit movie "LaRoy, Texas." (Shawn Hess via YouTube)

The 2024 crime comedy film “LaRoy, Texas” has a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes from more than 40 critics. One small part of that success is a classic heartbreak country song written by a Wyoming musician.

Shawn Hess’s song “World Away” was featured in one of the scenes in what Rotten Tomatoes calls a “satisfying neo-noir treat, and nobody was more surprised to hear his song in the film than Hess.

“It wouldn't have been my pick,” he told Cowboy State Daily, “but I'm not complaining.”

From A Fan

Hess grew up in Cheyenne and has been playing music with various bands in Wyoming’s capital city and Laramie for more than a decade. During this time, he has released two albums of original music.

“World Away” was the first song on his first album, also called “World Away.”

“It’s one of the first songs I ever wrote around eight years ago,” he said. “I was trying to come to terms with having a broken heart, I suppose. It’s just your classic country heartbreak song.”

One day, Hess was contacted by a fan of the song and album. That fan was Shane Atkinson, the writer and director of “LaRoy, Texas.”

“He let me know that he was a fan of my music,” Hess said. “He thought that song would be good for the film, so he asked if he could use it.”

Hess agreed to let “World Away” be used in the film. The two even discussed Atkinson’s Wyoming connection, sharing that his wife’s family lives in Wyoming.

Hess said it was particularly flattering that Atkinson, the progenitor of the production, personally reached out. This wasn’t the first time one of his songs was used in a movie, but the personal touch Atkinson brought made a difference.

“One of my songs was used in a very, very, very low-budget horror film slasher thing,” he said. “This is a little different. I’m pretty sure other folks usually handle the soundtrack, but (Atkinson) reached out to me personally. That felt really nice.”

The Right Vibe

The movie “LaRoy, Texas” is about a regular man, played by John Magaro, who’s mistaken for a hitman. The film chronicles Magaro’s misadventures as he eludes a real hitman and tries to escape LaRoy with his life.

Hess’s song is featured in a scene where the main characters discuss their recent misfortunes in a bar. The song is used diegetically, which means it’s playing in the movie’s universe rather than being added solely for the audience.

“Atkinson wanted to use the song for a scene where a couple of the main characters are speaking in a honkytonk-type bar,” Hess said. “It's playing over the jukebox in a little country bar. Seemed like an appropriate time to use it.”

Hess said it’s one thing to hear one of his songs in a movie. It’s entirely different when you enjoy the film itself.

“It feels pretty cool,” he said. “Feels really nice. And it helps that I enjoyed the film. I thought it was a really good movie.”

Watch on YouTube

Fingers Crossed

“LaRoy, Texas” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 8, 2023, and was officially released April 12. The film received three awards (Grand Prix of the Jury, Audience Award and International Critics' Award) at the Deauville American Film Festival in Deauville, France.

Meanwhile, Hess has released his third album of county music, “Wild Onion.” All three of his albums are available on Spotify and all major streaming platforms.

Hess was surprised Atkinson chose “World Away” as the song to include in “LaRoy, Texas,” but he’s thrilled it was. Now that he knows he has a fan in Hollywood, there might be a chance more of his songs will be heard in future films.

“I won't cross my fingers,” he said. “But I'll be excited if it happens.”

Andrew Rossi can be reached at

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Andrew Rossi

Features Reporter