Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield are transformed in the first trailer for Searchlight’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Chastain in particular looks like nothing we’ve ever seen from her before as the titular Tammy Faye Bakker, the American Christian singer, author and televangelist who, alongside her husband Jim Bakker, created The PTL Club.
Directed by Michael Showalter (The Big Sick, Wet Hot American Summer), and based on the documentary of the same name by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, The Eyes of Tammy Faye is an intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker.
In the 1970s and 80s, Tammy Faye Bakker and her husband, Jim Bakker, rose from humble beginnings to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, and were revered for their message of love, acceptance and prosperity. Tammy Faye was legendary for her indelible eyelashes, her idiosyncratic singing, and her eagerness to embrace people from all walks of life. However, it wasn’t long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled their carefully constructed empire.
The project has amassed an exemplary cast alongside leads Jessica Chastian and Andrew Garfield, including Cherry Jones as Rachel LaValley, Vincent D’Onofrio as Jerry Falwell, Fredric Lehne as Fred Grover, Mark Wystrach as Gary Paxton, Sam Jaeger as Roe Messner, Gabriel Olds as Pat Robertson, and Jay Huguley as Jimmy Swaggart.
Much of the movie’s marketing will no doubt surround Jessica Chastain’s unrecognizable transformation. Yes, that phrase is used a lot when it comes to actors changing their appearance to play a real-life person, but it certainly applies here. Chastain, best known for roles in the likes of Interstellar, The Martian, and the horror sequel It Chapter Two, as well as her Oscar nods for The Help and Zero Dark Thirty, reportedly spent four hours in the makeup chair every day in order to reshape her face into that of Tammy Faye.
“Every moment, I had something on my face,” Jessica Chastain said of the extensive makeup process. “I have a dimple in my chin that she didn’t have, so we would seal that up. Her face was more round than mine, so I would have things on my cheeks. Their expertise just helped me so much with my confidence in playing her.”
Away from the physical transformation, The Eyes of Tammy Faye gave Chastain to tell a story that she feels is not only interesting for audiences, but also important. “I just was so blown away by her and her story,” Chastain said of her decision to join the project. “The thing I loved the most about Tammy is her capacity to love. She knew what it felt like to not feel important, and she didn’t want anyone to experience that.”
Ultimately, it was Bakker’s advocation of LGBTQ rights and her interview with Christian gay minister and AIDS patient Steve Pieters that inspired Chastain to sign on as Tammy Faye. “In a time when people were even afraid to say ‘AIDS,’ we had this female televangelist,” the actress continued. “And she was a minister too in her own right. She wasn’t just the preacher’s wife, the singer. The interview is phenomenal. It’s so beautiful and loving. And it’s such a huge turning point in terms of what people could associate God’s grace with, because I feel like she was filled with grace.”
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is scheduled to be released on September 17, 2021, by Searchlight Pictures, having been moved forward form an original release date of September 24, 2021.