Now that word is out about the upcoming Merle Haggard biopic Done It All, we naturally started thinking about who will do justice to the Okie from Muskogee’s life. After all, it wasn’t all accolades and hit songs; there were some seriously dark years that would eventually lend themselves to his later musical success. The production hasn’t yet released any names, but that didn’t stop us from concocting our own list. Whether it came down to acting chops, looks or some unknown quality, here are five actors who we think should play Haggard.
The Australian actor might be on the older side to play Haggard’s younger moments, but his vocal ability should leave viewers in no doubt about what he can do. Besides acting in franchises like X-Men, Jackman has a strong voice, which has landed him in a Broadway musical more than once. While that kind of singing differs from the working man music Haggard created, he’d do the Okie proud.
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Born in Guetemala but raised in Miami, Isaac rose to fame more recently thanks to a role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but he was doing interesting dramatic projects long before that franchise came calling. In fact, it’s his turn as the title character in the 2013 Cohen brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis that showcases his vocal talent, revealing why Isaac could be the dark horse candidate when it comes to playing Haggard.
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Hawkes has a quiet intensity when he’s onscreen; it’s an indefinable quality that seeps into any character he plays. Whether good or bad guy, Hawkes brings both comedic and dramatic qualities to the screen that would work well to underscore Haggard’s failures and successes. Even though the biopic will inevitably be dramatic, it should also have humorous elements about it. Hawkes knows how to play either one, giving the gravity of Haggard’s story a touch of lightness.
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Another slightly older actor, Brolin has played all manner of characters, from gangsters to presidents to law enforcement. Underneath those roles exists a rugged quality that seems ideally suited to playing Haggard, especially during his darker years in prison. Plus, there’s the fact that he shares similar physical features to Haggard. The California native would be a unique choice to play the Oklahoma native turned California resident.
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The Walking Dead star has been acting for nearly two decades, but he rose to fame thanks to his zombie-killing skills. Playing Haggard might be a change of pace from what Reedus has been doing recently, but there’s a quality about the actor that lends itself to playing Haggard’s highs and lows. He approaches his work thoughtfully, a characteristic that will lend itself to conveying the musician’s story.