Josh Brolin Says His Criminal Past Makes Him ‘Best To Play’ Late Singer George Jones

Oscar-nominated Josh Brolin and Jessica Chastain will star in an upcoming biopic about legendary country singer/songwriter George Jones, who achieved international fame for his distinctive singing style and catalog of hit records, including his most well-known song “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” During his career, he had more than 150 hits, both as a solo artist and in duets with other artists. The film’s working title is No Show Jones, which “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,” per Rolling Stone.

The big-screen film about Jones’ life and career will be penned by Alan Wenkus, who recently received an Oscar nomination for co-writing the biopic Straight Outta Compton, about influential hip-hop group N.W.A. Josh revealed he will star as Jones during an interview with Conan O’Brien. He also confirmed that Chastain will play Tammy Wynette, George’s former wife and duet partner. Jones died in 2013, at age 81, from hypoxic respiratory failure.

“I have a bit of a past,” said Brolin to O’Brien. “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’s own battle with alcohol and arrests have been documented by the media. In 2004, he was arrested after his then wife, Diane Lane, called the police following an altercation that turned physically violent. Lane declined to press charges. In 2008, Brolin was arrested, along with actor Jeffrey Wright and crew members of the film W., after an altercation at a bar in Shreveport, Louisiana. Josh was also arrested for public intoxication on New Year’s Day, 2013, in Santa Monica, California.

Brolin also remarked to Conan about Jones’ affinity for 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.”

Brolin’s film credits include Men in Black 3, True Grit, No Country for Old Men, and Milk, for which he scored an Academy Award nomination. Last year, he appeared in Everest and Sicario. He’s also slated to voice the villain Thanos in Marvel’s upcoming Avengers: Infinity Wars films.

George’s widow, Nancy Jones, whom he met five years after his divorce from Wynette, was instrumental in getting the singer clean and sober. Last May, she spoke about how Wenkus signed on to the project after reading an early draft of the script.

“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 also assured fans that her late husband’s third wife, Wynette, would play a major part in the biopic. Jones and Tammy were married in 1969 and divorced in 1975.

“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.”

As the Tennessean notes, George and Tammy released several albums together, and topped the charts with three singles: “We’re Gonna Hold On” in 1973, “Golden Ring,” and “Near You,” which both hit No. 1 in 1976.

Josh Brolin currently stars in the Cohen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, about a “Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio’s stars in line.” No release date has been set for the George Jones biopic.

[Images courtesy John Salangsang/Invision/AP/Twitter]