“Hijacked … and used”: Jessica Chastain & Michael Shannon defend the legacy of ‘George & Tammy’

Long before Jessica Chastain won the Oscar for playing Tammy Faye Bakker, she started on her journey to embody Tammy Wynette.

This Sunday, you can experience her interpretation of the first lady of country music for yourself, as she and Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon become George & Tammy.

The six-part series traces the love affair of George Jones and the “Stand by Your Man” hitmaker, with Chastain and Shannon even doing their own singing. In an eerie twist of fate, the real George and Tammy were not far away.

“At the studio we were recording at, there was a cemetery behind it,” Shannon explains. “And you could go back and see George’s grave and the mausoleum where Tammy’s ashes are.”

“And it was a very kind of, I don’t know, sacred experience, you know, going back there,” he adds. “We went back there more than once, actually.”

Since the limited series is based on the book written by George and Tammy’s only child, Georgette, it was even more crucial for Chastain to get it right. 

“Georgette was very, very important,” the actress points out. “You know, she introduced us to so many people.”

“It was just such an important story to tell. In some sense, my heart kind of broke for all their kids, because these are two people that were just gifted and so open and so full of intensity and love and passion,” Chastain tells ABC Audio. “And I hate to say it, but I kind of feel like they were both hijacked, you know, in some part of their lives and used.”  

George & Tammy premieres simultaneously on Showtime and Paramount Network Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.

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