Jessica Chastain changed a scene in George & Tammy that ‘deeply disturbed’ her

Jessica Chastain has spoken about changing a “deeply disturbing” scene in George & Tammy.

Chastain and Michael Shannon star as country music power couple Tammy Wynette and George Jones in the recently released series.

In the first episode of the series, Wynette is still married to her soon-to-be ex-husband Don Chapel.

Chastain – who also serves as a producer on the show – told Marie Claire that the script initially saw Jones attempt to get Wynette alone by distracting Chapel with an escort.

The scene, however, “disturbed” Chastain to the point that she wanted it to be altered.

“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.”

The actor went on to explain how it was important to her that her character be given more agency.

“The song isn’t about being a doorman. And the reality is Tammy Wynette was married five times” Chastain said of Wynette’s hit 1968 single “Stand By Your Man”.

TV George & Tammy (2022 All Rights Reserved to MTVE)
TV George & Tammy (2022 All Rights Reserved to MTVE)

Ultimately, the subplot was axed. During filming, Shannon also made a tweak to his character’s dialogue that had originally implied that Jones did not acknowledge Wynette’s agency in their physical relationship.

“[Michael] changed the line from, ‘Yes, I’m going to f*** her’ – excuse the language – to, ‘I sure would like to,’” Chastain recalled. “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.”

Shannon said that changing the line of dialogue was a result of him and Chastain being “so in tune with one another”.

He said: “The notion of sitting in front of another man and looking at a woman and proclaiming that you’re going to f*** her seems a little neanderthal to me. I mean, if I was the woman in question, I wouldn’t enjoy that so much.”

George & Tammy (Paramount)
George & Tammy (Paramount)

Chastain spoke about the importance of “honouring women as human beings” in storytelling.

“To be a producer, and to have a production company, means you get to police that in the writing,” she said. “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.”

You can read The Independent’s two-star review of George & Tammy here.