Josh Brolin to Play George Jones in New Biopic

Jessica Chastain will star as Jones's former wife and duet partner Tammy Wynette in film about the hard-living singer

Josh Brolin says he's playing country-music icon George Jones in an upcoming movie about Jones's life. Credit: Vera Anderson/Getty, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A big-screen film about the life and career of George Jones appears closer to fruition, with an Oscar-nominated actor in the role of the Possum.

Josh Brolin, whose film credits include No Country for Old Men and Milk, for which he scored an Academy Award nomination, revealed he will star as Jones during an interview with Conan O'Brien. Brolin also said that Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty) will play Tammy Wynette, Jones's former wife and duet partner.

No Show Jones, the film's working title, stems from the singer's epic battle with alcohol and cocaine addiction, which led to his regularly missing concert dates in the late Seventies and early Eighties. Brolin quipped to O'Brien that his own personal run-ins with the law could have given him an edge in securing the role.

"I have a bit of a past," said Brolin, who was arrested on New Year's Day 2013 for public intoxication. "When they were trying to figure out who might be best able to best play George Jones, they thought, 'What about Brolin? Who's been to jail in the last 10 years? Let's pick Brolin!'"

Brolin also recalled one of the more notorious quirks Jones developed: speaking – and sometimes performing – in the voice of a duck.

"This is no joke; he talked like a duck for three years," Brolin said on Conan. "He refused to speak in anything but duck voice for three years. The only time he came out of duck voice was to [record] another Number One hit for that year."

The screenplay for the upcoming film is being written by Alan Wenkus, who recently received an Oscar nomination as part of the writing team behind the biopic Straight Outta Compton, about the influential hip-hop group N.W.A.

The singer's widow, Nancy Jones, whom Jones first met in 1981, five years after his divorce from Wynette, was largely responsible for finally getting Jones clean and sober. Last May, she revealed that Wenkus had signed on to the project after reading an early draft of the screenplay.

"He loved it, and he loves George," Nancy Jones told Rolling Stone Country. "We brought him to town, absolutely loved him, and we've been working together since November. He understands what I'm wanting. I don't want any lies — I want it exactly the way George started the [script] when he started it six years ago."

Nancy Jones assured fans that although she married the "He Stopped Loving Her Today" singer after his marriage to Wynette ended, Jones's third wife (whose hits included the prophetic "D-I-V-O-R-C-E") would be a major part of the film.

"I thought the world of Tammy and we ended up being best friends," she says. "I have quite a bit of things [in the script] that we've talked about, me and her. I will do her justice. If George was a butt with her, I'll tell that too. It will be an honest, honest movie."

No release date for the film has been announced.