Jewel has recorded with such legendary country artists as Merle Haggard, and has even scored some hits of her own in the format -- 2008's "Stronger Woman" reached No. 13 on Hot Country Songs. Still, her next musical move is one that required a great bit of resolve -- playing the legendary musician June Carter Cash.
The songstress will appear as the wife of Johnny Cash in the Lifetime original movie "Ring Of Fire," which is set to premiere Monday, May 27 at 8 p.m. EST.
In Las Vegas for the ACM Experience, the singer premiered several clips from the film, and also chatted with CMT's Cody Alan about the challenges of portraying the singer in the film. Based on the book "Anchored In Love," written by John Carter Cash, the movie details her standing by her man, but also some of her own inner demons that longtime fans may not be aware of – especially co-dependency issues that came to light upon Johnny entering the Betty Ford Clinic in the early 1980s.
In an interview with Billboard, Jewel told the story of how she came to accept the role after getting a phone call from Asylum Entertainment's Jonathan Koch, who offered her the role out of the blue.
"It sort of stunned me, as I had a baby about eight months before, and had no plans of acting. I tried to talk him out of it, but he seemed very determined to have me. I told him I would probably ruin my career, but he wanted me to do it anyway.
The reason I accepted it was that it was such a challenge. I did a lot of acting a long time ago in 'Ride With The Devil' with Ang Lee, and had read a bunch of scripts after that. It was usually the girlfriend of somebody, and really not that interesting, when you have a full time career and the demands of that. The script for this was one of those rare chances where you actually had a real dramatic role. There were a lot of highs and lows with it, and it was such an opportunity. I was excited to see if I could do it or fail."
She said she tried to approach the role not as an entertainer, but as a person. "The singing scenes were easy for me to do because I'm a singer. Those scenes weren't a big stretch for me, except that I had to perform them not as myself. My mannerisms and my posture had to be someone else. I think being a musician probably helped me the most in the studio. But, other than that, I never tackled her as a musician per se. It was about June and her life, and the challenges she faced as a human, a wife, and as a mother rather than her life as a musician."
"Ring Of Fire" also stars "Six Feet Under" star Frances Conroy in the role of Mother Maybelle Carter, John Doe as A.P. Carter, and Matt Ross as Johnny Cash. The film also features Grammy-winning family act The Peasall Sisters (O Brother, Where Art Thou) as June's musically talented sisters.