Jessica Chastain wants to do right by evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker.
Chastain depicts Bakker in director Michael Showalter’s upcoming biopic “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, based on the RuPaul-narrated 2000 documentary of the same name. The two-time Oscar-nominated actress was eager to share Bakker’s story after seeing the doc.
“I think it was the award circuit for ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and people were asking what I wanted to do next, and the Tammy Faye documentary was on TV and I watched it and thought, Wow, this feels like an incredible part,” Chastain tells L’Officiel magazine for the magazine’s Fall 2021 cover issue. “The singing, the preaching, everything about her.
“It ticked all the boxes because, for me, it also rights a wrong. I was so upset that she’d been treated the way she had by the media.”
Bakker was an evangelist, singer, author, talk show host, and television personality. A personality made for Hollywood, her moral views diverged from many mainstream evangelists. She was accepting of LGBT views and supported HIV/AIDS patients during the AIDS epidemic.
“The fact that we vilified her for the makeup she wore and how she looked instead of listening to what she was saying about love, what she was saying about religion, about Christians, and about what Christianity is supposed to be about; how she was reaching across and really trying to love those who feel like they’ve been abandoned,” Chastain says.
“It broke my heart that she was never acknowledged for that. She was just made into a joke. Even now when you mention Tammy Faye, people say, ‘Oh yeah, she’s singing and there’s mascara running down her face.'”
Chastain did a deep dive into Faye’s life in preparation for her performance.
“I spent hundreds of hours studying her, I looked through all the footage I could find; there’s not one video I could find of mascara running down her face. I think it’s in our memories because of the media, the comedy sketches, and the people making fun of her.
“And that’s what we remember; it changed our memories of what the reality was. I wanted people to see what she was really about.”
Chastain stars alongside Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones and Vincent D’Onofrio in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”. The movie premieres on Sept. 12 at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, followed by a wide release on Sept. 17.
L’Officiel‘s Fall 2021 issue is on newsstands this week, marking L’Officiel USA‘s largest issue ever. The occasion will be celebrated with a special event in New York City on Wednesday, Sept. 8 during New York Fashion Week.