Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn’s friendship is brought beautifully to life in the upcoming Lifetime film Patsy & Loretta. Ahead of the movie’s Oct. 19 debut, the film screened at Tennessee’s Franklin Theatre on Wednesday evening.
The star-studded event had members of the Nashville music community and Hollywood join forces to celebrate the two country music pioneers. On display at the theater were two life-size wax figures of Cline and Lynn from Madame Tussauds Nashville.
The film’s leading ladies — Megan Hilty and Jessie Mueller, who play Cline and Lynn, respectively — were in attendance as well as executive producer Neil Meron, co-executive producer Mark Nicholson, director Callie Khouri and scriptwriter Angelina Burnett, as well as Cline’s daughter and co-producer Julie Fudge and Lynn’s daughter and co-producer Patsy Lynn. Each were on hand for a Q&A following the film screening where they discussed the making of the film and how life often imitates art with Entertainment Weekly’s Sarah Rodman.
Here are five things we learned at the Nashville premiere of Patsy & Loretta.
Telling the true friendship of women in the music industry was crucial
Director Callie Khouri said that instead of highlighting the drama and catfighting between women in the music industry that has been detailed in previous films, the genuine friendship between Cline and Lynn was what drew her to get involved on Patsy & Loretta.
“Obviously, they are in the canon of the greatest country music singers who ever lived. This particular aspect of their story, I haven’t seen,” Khouri said. “[It was important] to tell another story about what the real truth is between most women’s friendship because, honestly, you see a lot of catfighting and that’s not usually how it goes down. I thought this was such a beautifully told story of two women trying to make it in the business in a time where there weren’t a lot of other women at the top. They were trailblazers. So I thought, ‘Let’s put that out there right now.’”
Hilty and Mueller’s friendship transcended the movie
Lead actresses Meghan Hilty and Jessie Mueller first met at a mutual friend’s baby shower. Simply acquaintances when they learned of their respective roles in the film, their friendship blossomed on and off set while filming Patsy & Loretta.
“She’s just one of those people that you meet and everything’s just easy,” Hilty gushed of her co-star. “She is very much like Loretta. I believe she’s got the greatest heart and she’s the most genuine person you’d ever meet. It made my job very, very easy to be best friends with her because she’s just naturally a wonderful person.”
Mueller sang her co-star’s praises too, admitting that she paid attention to how Hilty acted on the set and treated those around her.
“I felt like I had a very life-imitating-art experience on this. I was a little nervous the first time I really met you. I don’t know, the idea of the public persona or something,” she said, turning to Hilty. “You’re very together and I often don’t feel together. Very quickly that faded … Your grounded-ness, your strength, your work ethic. She’s the best model to watch and learn from.”
It’s still emotional for Patsy and Loretta’s daughters to watch their lives onscreen
“It is a little strange when you first see your life portrayed like this, but it’s also something that we lived so it’s not brand-new to us,” Julie Fudge, Cline’s daughter, said. “It is a little awkward sitting in front of everybody.”
Added Patsy Lynn, “It’s more emotional than I really anticipated. I’m trying to hold it together and not cry. One of the things that was really important to Julie and I is that we wanted that depth of friendship. We wanted that to transcend to all of you, and make you feel like you wanted to be part of the Loretta-Patsy Club.”
The film hit close to home for the actors too
Hilty got vividly emotional as she related to Patsy having to say goodbye to her children for tour as she often does this as a musician and actress. “Watching the film tonight, it’s hard not to lose it at the end. My heart just breaks,” she said, holding back tears. “We missed out on so much from losing Patsy at such an early age, but I cannot imagine what her family went through and reliving it through stories like this. Being a singer who leaves her kids constantly for these gigs because that’s how I take care of my family…”
Patsy Lynn chimed in, reassuring Hilty that she is making the right decision for her family just as her own mother did for her. “I have to tell you this. As a daughter, I was born when my mother was female vocalist of the year. My mom ended up traveling about 300 days a year. She never ever made me feel unloved. I’m so proud of my mom and I understood exactly why she was leaving. We just learned, as your kids will, that we get to share our mom with all of you,” Lynn explained.
Dispelling the myth of only having room for one woman at the top
“Coming in, we wanted to tell the story of their friendship,” scriptwriter Angelina Burnett said. “[There’s] this myth in our culture that there’s only room for one woman at the top. I saw in this friendship an incredible opportunity to tell a story about women in the same profession, at the height of their skill, taking care of each other. And that’s what I cared most about.”
Added Khouri, “These were two women with kids who had to go on the road and all the hardship that goes along with having a career and packing up and leaving your family. It’s revolutionary to be telling these stories because we haven’t paid enough attention to what the woman’s experience is.”