It’s enough of a challenge for singer Jewel to play country music icon June Carter Cash in the new Lifetime movie “Ring of Fire,”
but to make things even more difficult, she has Reese Witherspoon’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Carter in "Walk the Line" to contend with.
But this story is different from "Walk the Line," Jewel says. Unlike the award-winning movie, "Ring of Fire" will focus specifically on Carter’s life growing up in the country music spotlight, from her teenage years until her death.
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“I knew this was a big undertaking,” Jewel told the Los Angeles Times. “But this movie isn't the Johnny and June love story like ‘Walk the Line.’ This is June's story. I’d seen a bunch of scripts for different roles, but not any that were really interesting to me. When I read this one, I knew it was a chance to play a big, dynamic, dramatic part.”
Because the story focused on Carter, Jewel said she decided not to watch the 2005 big-movie version again while preparing for the film.
“It wasn't necessarily some big conscious effort,” Jewel said. “I had my hands full of taking the role on, and this is the story of her life – not just the story of the woman behind the man.”
Director Allison Anders said that’s why she believes fans and casual viewers will find the Lifetime version fresh and entertaining. She said it was easy for Carter’s story to get lost in the legend that is Johnny Cash.
“It was not just that June Carter had a husband,” Anders says. “She had a husband who was an icon.”
Jewel’s transformation goes beyond wigs, makeup and costumes. She captures the different movements and mannerisms of a woman in her 20s and one in her 70s.
“I was lucky enough to take on a character and was able to upload footage on her from her 20s on,” Jewel said. “I was able to watch her posture; she had this very proud posture. It was a point of pride for her to have head up, chest out. She had amazingly youthful posture.”
Jewel told Rolling Stone
that she was able to connect with Carter in other ways as well.
“I had a similar background to June,” Jewel said. “I grew up eating squirrel stew and my family was musical. I left home when I was 15 and I grew up singing in a bar, which was the best study in human nature I could have asked for.”
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