Country music icons Loretta Lynn and the late Patsy Cline have both had separate big-screen features focusing on their lives, including Coal Miner’s Daughter which won Sissy Spacek a Best Actress Oscar as Lynn in 1981, and Sweet Dreams for which Jessica Lange was Oscar nominated for playing Cline.
At Deadline’s Contenders Television virtual event, Neil Meron, who is executive producer of the Lifetime movie Patsy & Loretta, acknowledged the fact that singers’ stories have been told individually, but that the idea of doing a movie that focused on the unique friendship between the pair gave the filmmakers, which include director Callie Khouri, real license to do something different.
“We also had the cooperation of Loretta’s and Patsy Cline’s families which was wonderful to have that rubber stamp,” he said on the network’s panel that also included Broadway stars Megan Hilty as Cline and Jessie Mueller as Lynn.
Hilty said she didn’t watch the previous films before the shoot and noted there was very little actual footage to work with on Cline. “I did not watch the other films because I knew we were all guessing,” she said of her approach to the role. For Mueller, the movie was an eye opener. “There are people we know so well with their public personas, but the film really deals with their personal lives. You had that freedom to extrapolate and imagine what it would be like,” she said.
On the idea of showing genuine female friendship, Hilty said it was personal since all her own best friends are successful female performers. “I can only imagine that people think that audiences expect to see women at odds with each other just because that is what they have seen so often,” she said. “I was really struck by the script showing women in showbiz supporting each other when you would assume the opposite might be true if you didn’t know this world like Jessie, Neil and I do.”
Check out the panel video above.