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Jessica Chastain, Michael Shannon On Channeling Country Stars And Singing Together In ‘George And Tammy’

George and Tammythe Showtime limited series about the life and tumultuous relationship between country stars George Jones and Tammy Wynette premiered Monday in Los Angeles in what spans more than a decade-long journey for Jessica Chastain.

The star – fresh off an Oscar win for playing another Tammy Tammy Faye’s eyes — has been associated with the project since 2011 when it was first developed as a film, and also served as a producer on the series.

Chastain said The Hollywood Reporter that she was so inspired by showrunner Abe Sylvia’s passion for the couple’s story that it “put me down the rabbit hole of who they were and then became obsessed with them too.”

“I’m very protective of them and I can’t imagine anyone else playing her, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing George, so I called Mike,” she continued, pointing to costar Michael Shannon, who she recruited Jones to play. “I know how protective Mike is of the characters he plays, so it just felt like the right recipe for a work environment.”

The two actors have been friends for a long time since they starred together in 2011 Take shelteras Shannon said he didn’t know much about Jones before taking the role, but “I love working with Jessica and I love singing, so it was a perfect combination.”

Shannon – who is a musician in his own right as part of indie rock band Corporal – and Chastain both underwent extensive vocal training to prepare for the performance, and reflected on their first time singing together on screen with the duet’ Something To Brag About’.

“It was fun, it was like finally. We had been on the job for so long,” Chastain recalled, as Shannon added, “We had waited a long time to do it and the extras were really excited and they were nice to us — no one was throwing apples or tomatoes or anything. It was a fun song and not too difficult, so that was nice.

Sylvia said he was both overwhelmed and relieved when he heard his two protagonists sing together for the first time.

“I was like ‘This is going to work,'” he recalled. “It’s a big step to take on these icons. They have incredible chemistry as friends and actors and great confidence, so they’re going to some very dark places and some very joyful places.

“If they hadn’t had that long-standing friendship and trust and sense of play, the show wouldn’t have worked,” he continued. “The show dances on the needle of their chemistry.”

Sylvia said that through his research, she fell in love with the pair and made it through the decade-long development process because it was “too important a story and too beautiful a story not to fight for it”. He knew Chastain – who he also collaborated with while writing Tammy Faye’s eyes – was his Tammy Wynette after seeing her The Tree of Lifeand talked about the importance of her and Shannon actually singing in the series.

“I think the most important thing to remember is that George and Tammy themselves conveyed so much pain and beauty and sadness and joy and happiness and all this emotion in their singing, and that’s what we wanted to capture with Michael and Jessica,” said Sylvia . . “The vocals were recorded live and you always get their true feel in the vocals, that’s how they’re most like George and Tammy.”

And despite the long journey to the screen, the creator was never discouraged: “I think the gods of country music have been looking out for us on this project, make sure we got it right.”

George and Tammy premieres on Showtime on December 4.

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