Jessica Chastain is physically transformed in the official trailer for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” the latest directorial effort from “The Big Sick” filmmaker Michael Showalter. Chastain stars in the Searchlight Pictures-backed drama opposite Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Fredric Lehne, Louis Cancelmi, Sam Jaeger, Gabriel Olds, Mark Wystrach, and Vincent D’Onofrio. With its September release date, expect “Tammy Faye” to turn up at a fall festival like TIFF and possibly factor into the upcoming awards season. Searchlight is coming off a Best Picture win for “Nomadland.”
The official synopsis for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” from Searchlight Pictures reads: “[The film] is an intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall, and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. In the 1970s and ’80s, Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker (Garfield), 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.”
“I just was so blown away by her and her story,” Chastain told People magazine earlier this month about joining 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.”
Chastain spent four hours each day in the makeup trailer transforming into Bakker with help from her longtime makeup artists Linda Dowds and Stephanie Ingram, plus Justin Raleigh. The actress told People, “Every moment, I had something on my face. 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.”
The Oscar-nominated Chastain said she “really wanted to make the movie” after seeing Bakker interview Christian gay minister and AIDS patient Steve Pieters. The real Bakker went on to advocate for LGBTQ rights.
“In a time when people were even afraid to say ‘AIDS,’ we had this female televangelist,” Chastain said. “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.”
Searchlight Pictures will release “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” in theaters on September 17.