Jessica Chastain has revealed she changed a scene in George & Tammy after the original draft “deeply disturbed” her.
Chastain and Michael Shannon star as country music singers Tammy Wynette and George Jones in the Showtime series, which follows their careers and tumultuous relationship.
In the first episode, George confronts Tammy’s soon-to-be ex-husband Don Chapel (Pat Healy). Speaking to Marie Claire, Chastain said in an early outline of the script, George gets Tammy alone by distracting Don with an escort.
Chastain, who is a producer on the show, explained that she was “disturbed” by the escort subplot and had it subsequently removed.
“I read it and I was deeply disturbed,” Chastain said. “[Tammy] was just kind of sitting there. People were creating stuff so she could be caught rather than her making decisions.”
While filming the confrontation between Don and George, Shannon tweaked the dialogue in the scene to acknowledge Tammy had agency in their relationship.
“[Michael] changed the line from, ‘Yes, I’m going to fuck her’ – excuse the language – to, ‘I sure would like to,’” Chastain said. “The second he said, ‘I sure would like to,’ it was like, ‘Oh, yes, this is happening.’
“Because he sees her as someone who gets to make the decision. And that’s working with an actor who’s very aware he doesn’t own me.”
The actor emphasized that giving Tammy agency was a pivotal part of the series. Speaking about Tammy’s track ‘Stand By Your Man’, Chastain said: “The song isn’t about being a doormat. And the reality is Tammy Wynette was married five times.
“She made decisions in her life. To be a producer, and to have a production company, means you get to police that in the writing. You get to say, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. We need to honour women as human beings. And they make their own choices – just like men do.”
George & Tammy also stars Steve Zahn, Tim Blake Nelson, Kelly McCormack, Katy Mixon and Walton Goggins. The series is available in the UK on Showtime.