Country Gold’s Ben Hall on Portraying George Jones and Collaboration

Apr 13, 2023

Actor Ben Hall has been busy; he’s set to make an appearance in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming movie Killers of the Flower Moon, and the Oklahoma-based actor appears in a wide range of productions set in the region, including Reservation Dogs and 2020’s Minari.

Most recently, Hall can be seen in filmmaker Mickey Reece’s newest movie Country Gold, which premiered at the Fantasia Film Festival, where the actor portrays country music legend George Jones. Starring opposite Reece, who plays a character inspired by country singer Garth Brooks, the film follows two country music stars — one an upcoming hotshot and the other a legend — who meet for a wild night before Jones is about to be cryogenically frozen.

MovieWeb sat down to discuss Country Gold, portraying Jones, and acting with Hall.

Frequent Collaborators

Cinedigm Entertainment Group

MW: How did you become involved with Country Gold?

Ben Hall: There’s a local filmmaker named Mickey Reece. People have called him the [Steven] Soderbegh of the sticks. A few years ago, a mutual friend introduced us, said, “You need to meet this director,” and told him, “you need to meet this local actor.”

I did this tiny one-scene thing in a movie he was doing at the time. And then the next year, he got a hold of me and said he had something else he wanted to do, and if I wanted to look at it. It was kind of a vampire movie called Climate of the Hunter, and a small group of us went to these cabins in Southeastern Oklahoma and stayed down there a couple of weeks. The next year [after that], he [asks], “What do you think about being a priest,” and we shot a little horror movie called Agnes. That was a lot of fun.

Then, in 2021, he had put together Country Gold. The co-writer on all of these was John Selvidge. By then, we knew each other fairly well, and through a variety of circumstances, Mickey ended up playing the lead part of Troyal Brux. It was cool working with him again in a movie and act across from him. It was a lot of fun. A lot of the same people had worked on all of [these movies].

MW: In our interview with Mickey, he said he didn’t want you looking at the real George Jones for inspiration. What was your process in making this character stand on its own?

Ben Hall: I did a little bit [of research]. I just kind of glossed over it; you might call it the first paragraph or two on the Wikipedia page. And that’s all. I wasn’t trying to mimic [George Jones], it wasn’t supposed to be any kind of true representation. The movie isn’t about the real George Jones or the real Garth Brooks. It’s just the opposition of the guy coming up, who’s gaining fame and believes celebrity means one thing, and then he goes and finds out it means something entirely different. The beginning and end of a career, how they differ, based on decisions they make along the way. If it was more of a homage to George Jones, I would have done more research, but it wasn’t about him, and it seemed like a rabbit hole.

MW: Are you a country music fan?

Ben Hall: I’m not a big country music fan, but my taste in music is fairly eclectic, so some of it is country music.

Related: The Best Country Music Movies, Ranked

MW: On a different note, there are quite a few memorable moments in this movie. Is there one you’re particularly fond of?

Ben Hall: There were several fun things that happened in the bar scene, and some of it didn’t make the final movie. It got edited around, rather than a chunk taken out. The two that stand out are during our very first meeting, when I’ve explained to him what the extended trip I’m going to take is to be cryogenically frozen, and then toward the end, laying there on the bed and telling the final story.

Some [scenes] end up looking exactly like you would imagine them or what they would do, and then some are very different. One of the advantages of film is that it’s a permanent record, and you can make such great use of the visual part of it, not just what’s being said. It can be so evocative and during that final scene, it builds very nicely.

Ben Hall Looks to the Future

Cinedigm Entertainment Group

MW: You’ve worked with Mickey Reece as a director, but never acted with him like this. What was that like?

Ben Hall: It was great. He loves to say he’s not really an actor and not that good, but I really enjoyed all of it, the scenes with him and the rest of the movie. And I think he does a nice job bringing that character to life. I loved it.

MW: You have a wide range of movies you’ve been in. Do you have a specific inclination for the kind of movie you want to be in?

Ben Hall: There are two kinds. Sometimes it is work. Since about 2020, Oklahoma is a much more common place for media and large movies to come through here, and sometimes that’s a great experience. Then there are the things I do because I enjoy the people, and Mickey’s work falls in that category. I trust him. I really want to do a Western, and he and I have talked about it. That’s the dream I had when I was a kid. A detective story may be fun, they may come from other places.

Related: The Best Musical Biopics, Ranked

MW: What’s next for you?

Ben Hall: There’s several people talking about things. A couple of local groups are asking for dates. Five years ago, maybe four, a local outfit made a movie called The Adventures of Jurassic Pet. They’ve made part two and may make another one. We’ll see. Last year was semi-busy locally. Tulsa King was here with Sylvester Stallone. Then Reservation Dogs was shooting their second season here, and they’re now into their third season. Martin Scorsese and that bunch were here [for Killers of the Flower Moon] – that’s coming out this year. That’ll be fun.

Country Gold was released on Fandor on April 4, 2023.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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