‘George & Tammy’ star Jessica Chastain on Wynette’s ‘rage and ferocity’

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain shine in Showtime’s drama about fabled nation music legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette who couldn’t stay with or with out one another as they veered towards a collision course fueled by alcoholism, opioid dependancy and emotional turmoil — none of which which didn’t dampen their love.

George & Tammy,” premiering Dec. 4, tracks the duo’s relationship from their first assembly to their eventual marriage and divorce up via Wynette’s demise — in 1998 on the too-young age of 55 — and every thing in-between. The collection was created by Abe Sylvia, who wrote the screenplay for Chastain’s Oscar-winning function as Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” His ardour in telling the Jones/Wynette story is palpable from the get-go, with Chastain and Shannon singing all of the couple’s solos and duets themselves, including an air of authenticity and, at occasions, heartbreak.

(“George & Tammy” is customized from their daughter Georgette Jones’ ebook, “The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George.”)

Not solely can we see each side of the Jones/Wynette equation, however their story is given added depth via others who witnessed their stormy relationship first-hand: guitarist Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery (Walton Goggins); Wynette’s confidant/hairdresser Jan Smith (Katy Mixon); Billy Sherrill (David Wilson Barnes), who co-wrote “Stand By Your Man” with Wynette; and songwriter George Richey (Steve Zahn), who later married Wynette (her fifth and remaining husband) and allegedly abused her (as seen in “George & Tammy”).

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain as George Jones and Tammy Wynette in “George & Tammy.”
Dana Hawley/Courtesy of SHOWTIME

Chastain stated that Georgette Jones made certain that her mom was not portrayed as a sufferer, regardless of her turbulent life.

“She had been seen in that way … but she made choices in her life and navigated her life in the way she saw fit,” Chastain, 45, advised The Post. “It wasn’t, ‘Oh, poor Tammy.’ The actuality is [that] this was a lady who had nice bodily ache. She had over three-dozen surgical procedures on her stomach [cutting out scar tissue from a hysterectomy] and blockages from her opioid dependancy. She needed to have a port to switch medicine into her coronary heart.

“Not only is she numbing the physical pain of what she’s been through … she also decided to numb the emotional pain” that was part-and-parcel of her life story, Chastain stated. Born Virginia Pugh, Wynette’s mom compelled her to have electro-shock remedy when she needed to go away her first husband, with whom she had two daughters .

It was the arc of her stormy life that imbued Wynette’s vocals, Chastain stated.

Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon as Tammy and George performing a duet together onstage. Tammy is wearing a white cowboy hat, white shirt and pink skirt; George is dressed all in blue except for a white tie and belt. He's strumming an acoustic guitar and is in the middle of singing a song.
Tammy and George (Jessica Chastain, Michael Shannon) singing a duet on stage.
Dana Hawley/Courtesy of SHOWTIME
Tammy Wynette and George Jones performing together in London in 1981. Tammy has big blond curls and is wearing leather pants; George is dressed in black and is strumming an acoustic guitar. They're both very close to each other while singing into the microphone.
Tammy Wynette and George Jones perfoming in London in 1981, years after their divorce.
Getty Images

“I do think sometimes when she sang it felt primal,” Chastain stated. “Her vocal in ‘Stand By Your Man’ is unimaginable — it goes from a whisper to a scream however she hated it. She all the time felt like she seemed like a pig squealing.

“I felt like her voice comes from a woman who was institutionalized … and wanted to leave her marriage and her mother took her kids away,” she stated. “I kept thinking when I was playing her she had this sense of rage and ferocity, like ‘Listen to me and see me and take me into account.’”

It’s Wynette’s relationship with Jones, after all, that takes middle stage as “George & Tammy” dives deeply into their private and performing lives and their performing lives, each as solo artists and as an on-stage duet crew — which continued even after they divorced one another.

“To watch them on YouTube, when they’re both married to other people, I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Chastain stated. “The way that they sing to each other, the way that George tries to get her to kiss him … when you have that kind of connection with another person, that almost artistic spiritual soulmate where you make this music together, it’s incredible.”

“I think country music is about not letting wounds heal and opening yourself up and exposing the darkest part of yourself, and that has to cost something to be iconic singers the way they were,” she stated. “Mike [Shannon] and I were talking about this the other day. Happiness is not a stagnant thing. George was happy at home and Tammy was like, ‘Let’s go to Vegas’ and he said he never wanted to go to Vegas.”

Chastain stated she doesn’t suppose that Jones and Wynette may stay with out one another.

“They constantly orbited each other even before they met. Tammy had a book in which she wrote down every lyric of George’s songs before she ever met him,” she stated. “Even after Tammy died, George wrote letters to DJs speaking concerning the curious and suspicious nature of her demise. They sang about one another of their solos. They have been destined, in some sense, to fulfill — I do know that sounds corny however I discover it deeply romantic.

“They both had very difficult childhoods and troubles and knew how to put their hearts and souls into their music,” she stated. “They put everything of who they were into their art.”

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