Amazon is gearing up to tell the story of country music icon Merle Haggard, with the help of Oscar-winner Sam Rockwell. The company has acquired a package for a new biopic chronicling the life of the influential and beloved musician, with Rockwell on deck to star in the lead role. What’s more, Rockwell will be doing his own singing in the movie, performing some of Haggard’s most well-known hits. No pressure.
According to a new report, Amazon Studios recently acquired the package and is gearing up to produce the Merle Haggard biopic. Robin Bissell is set to direct and co-write the screenplay, which will be based on Merle Haggard’s memoir, Sing Me Back Home. Bissell will co-write the script alongside Theresa Haggard, the musician’s widow. Both Bissell and Haggard are set to produce the movie as well. Sam Rockwell’s deal has not officially closed yet, as of this writing, but things seem to be heading in the right direction. Rockwell previously won an Oscar for his work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The actor also worked with Bissell on his debut directorial feature, 2019’s The Best of Enemies.
The movie, which does not yet have an official title, will chronicle his rise to stardom, which started with a troubled past. Merle Haggard’s father passed away when he was young, leaving him to a life of crime in his youth. Merle Haggard spent time in more than a dozen juvenile detention facilities. Haggard was eventually sent to the famous San Quentin State Prison where his life would change. Haggard witnessed another musical legend, Johnny Cash, play for the prisoners, which set him on a path to change his life and become a better man. Haggard succeeded beyond compare, with the Country Music Hall of Fame calling him “The single most influential singer-songwriter in country music history.”
Merle Haggard was eventually pardoned by former President and then-governor Ronald Reagan. Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke also notably brought one of Haggard’s albums to the moon. During his long, storied career, Haggard produced nine number one songs, with 71 of his tunes reaching the top ten. Some of his most well-known songs include Okie From Muskogee, The Fightin’ Side Of Me, Today I Started Loving You Again and I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink. Haggard passed away at the age of 79 in 2016.
Some of Sam Rockwewll’s recent credits include Jojo Rabbit and Richard Jewell, as well as the FX series Fosse/Verdon. The actor has also starred in Moon, Iron Man 2, Seven Psychopaths, The Green Mile and Vice, in which he played former president George W. Bush. There is no word on how soon Amazon looks to begin production on the project. Though much of that could depend on outside factors as the industry is still trying to rebound after the prolonged shutdown that kicked off back in March. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as any further details are made available. This news comes to us via Deadline.