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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon Trained for Months Before Singing Live for ‘George & Tammy’: ‘It Was the Scariest Thing I’ve Ever Done’

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Jessica Chastain has taken on many high-profile roles in recent years. But her latest is one of the most interesting and challenging. Chastain, who portrays Tammy Wynette in the Showtime miniseries George & Tammy, plays opposite Michael Shannon as the iconic country singer George Jones.

Distributed by Paramount Network, George & Tammy is a highly anticipated miniseries that’s been in development for years. In a recent interview, Chastain and Shannon opened up about bringing the story to the small-screen, revealing the intense vocal training they completed to play the country singers.

‘George & Tammy’ was originally going to be a movie

George Jones and Tammy Wynette are legends in the country music industry. Their marriage, while notoriously passionate, also made headlines for its many ups and downs. The story of the George & Tammy movie is similarly complicated.

According to IMDb, the project was originally conceived as a movie in 2011. Chastain was attached to the project from the start. But as it transformed from a movie into a miniseries, the actor got even more invested in the story, becoming a producer through her production company, Freckle Films.

According to Vanity Fair, Chastain helped recruit Shannon as her co-star, who admitted the story “seduced” him.

Chastain and Shannon worked together in the 2011 project Take Shelter. So she knew from the start that he was the right actor for the role of George Jones.

Chastain also knew Shannon had the right musicality for the role. She noted, “He’s a great singer and musician, and I’d seen him perform with his band in Brooklyn.”

Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon underwent intense vocal training for ‘George & Tammy’

Although Wynette and Jones’ story intrigued Chastain and Shannon, the stars had to put in a lot of work to embody the country stars. They trained with famed Nashville vocal coach Ron Browning for months, rehearsing Jones and Wynette’s top songs.

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain pose for photos at the 2022 CMA Awards
George & Tammy stars Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain at the 2022 CMA Awards | Jason Kempin/Getty Images

“These songs, they’re pretty deep and they’ve got some dark corners in them, and we spent a lot of time with them,” Shannon told Vanity Fair. “In addition to learning how to sing them, I think they also kind of taught us about who the people were and the story we were telling.”

The vocal training was hard work. Chastain called singing in front of a theater full of extras one of the “scariest” things she’s ever done. Fortunately, the result was something truly special.

Notably, Chastain also went through a staggering physical transformation to play Wynette. She lost a lot of weight to portray the singer when she was struggling with health problems later in life.

‘George & Tammy’ debuts on Showtime in early December

George & Tammy will highlight all the highs and lows of the couple’s relationship, from their courtship to divorce. The two remained close friends even after their divorce in 1975.

Fans can also expect to see the inception of some of Wynette and Jones’ most popular songs, including Wynette’s legendary anthem “Stand by Your Man.” The miniseries is bound to be intense, given Jones’ struggles with alcohol and the sometimes violent fights that he and Wynette got involved in.

Fans will be able to see the action when George & Tammy debuts on the Showtime network on December 4. With the series already receiving awards-show buzz, it is likely to be one of the season’s must-see shows.

RELATED: Jessica Chastain Earned Millions Less Than Her Male Co-Star for This Iconic Role

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