Showtime’s George & Tammy star Jessica Chastain revealed she had to get over her “initial judgment” of Tammy Wynette and her hit “Stand By Your Man” to portray the country music legend.
The more Chastain learned about Wynette, the more she saw she had the wrong idea of what she was about. Once she realized the iconic song had a different meaning than she thought, she concluded the singer wasn’t the doormat some people mistook her for.
Jessica Chastain said Tammy Wynette had to sing about standing by her man ‘to survive’ because of her multiple marriages
Chastain talked to Guardian about playing Wynette, comparing her to other women in county music. She argued that Wynette’s songs had to reflect more old-fashioned values for women. That was because her personal life could be distracting and off-putting for some fans.
“You look at someone like Loretta Lynn, who I love — I love “Coal Miner’s Daughter” — and she was married to the same man her whole life and was what people really needed women to be at the time, so she got to sing about all these progressive things,” she explained.
Wynette was different, Chastain noted. She said, “…Tammy Wynette was from a broken home, she had multiple marriages, and there was something so unsavory about that, that she had to sing about ‘stand by your man.’”
“I will never be angry at a woman for doing what she has to do to survive,” she offered.
Jessica Chastain got over her ‘initial judgment’ of Tammy Wynette
Though Chastain eventually saw Wynette in a different light, she said she had to deliberate about whether she could take on the part and sing the songs at first. “I came in with this initial judgment, this idea of ’How am I going to sing the song ‘Stand By Your Man’? It feels so contrary to everything I say or my politics,” she explained to news.com.au.
“Then I started to realize, the more I was reading about her, that she was married five times, and she was a force to be reckoned with,” Chastain added. “She showed up in Nashville—divorced, a single mom with three kids—to become a singer, and all by herself.”
Ultimately, Chastain concluded Wynette “really was an incredible person who was not a victim,” and “Stand By Your Man” isn’t a song “about being a doormat.”
“So much of that song is about when someone’s struggling,” she noted. “…You stand by them.”
Chastain realized it was a song about love as enduring as the one Wynette shared with George Jones. She explained, “In some sense, that’s what she did with George. When they divorced, she never abandoned him. She never left him. She took him on tour with her, and she always cared about him and wanted to take care of him.”
Most parties would agree that the love story between Wynette and Jones had ups and very ugly downs. However, “There’s still love present,” Chastain noted, “which I think is the only reason to watch [George & Tammy].”
Jessica Chastain thinks young girls shouldn’t listen to the lyrics of 1 Tammy Wynette song
While Chastain confessed to having the wrong idea about Wynette and “Stand By Your Man,” she told The Guardian there was a specific song she still couldn’t get behind. It’s a tune called “Run, Woman, Run,” discouraging a woman from leaving a man for a new life that seems better.
Lyrics include, “Run, woman, run / Go back to him and fix things up the very best you can / Tell him you missed him while you were gone / Run, woman, run / Back to your man.”
Chastain said she had to share a note about that song before she sang it. She shared, “I looked out at all these sweet, young faces staring up at me and said, ‘Girls: I don’t want you to listen to the lyrics of this song. Por favor. I love Tammy, but she did not believe this. She was married five times, so do not take any of this as gospel.’”