- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
The cast and crew of The Eyes of Tammy Faye reunited on Tuesday’s hot pink carpet for the New York City premiere of the film, which stars Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield as televangelists Tammy Faye Bakker and Jim Bakker.
“It was really important for me to focus on Tammy’s story. I feel like an injustice of her legacy is that she’s been lumped together with her husband, and I really wanted to recognize her for who she was as a woman,” Chastain told The Hollywood Reporter. “I just really wanted to see her as a flesh-and-blood human being, and so that included her sensual side. She loved people, she loved love, she wanted to hold people.”
The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which has been a passion project for Chastain for nearly a decade, follows Tammy and her husband, Jim, from humble beginnings as Christian college dropouts to creating the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, Heritage USA. But it wasn’t long before financial struggles, scheming rivals and scandal toppled their empire.
“It’s a complicated story,” director Michael Showalter told THR. “We wanted to try to be inside Tammy’s head, so that you’re with Tammy, you’re experiencing this story through her, rather than objectively.” But traveling through the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s made things a little more complex. “It’s just a lot going on,” he added.
To show the transition through time, makeup artist Linda Dowds worked with the prosthetics team on the film. The most difficult part for her, she explained, “was making sure that we honored the beauty of Tammy Faye, that we got that down without compromising anything else.”
Added Dowds: “It was finding where we could go that looked like Tammy Faye, particularly in those later years, but that we honor the authenticity of that and the beauty of that, without going into anything that transcended into a caricatured look.”
“She is Tammy Faye,” Bailey said. “The film carries through the message of Tammy Faye, which was, you know, ‘Don’t judge people.’ She doesn’t label people.”
Barbato chimed in, “Tammy would be thrilled to be here tonight — a pink carpet, her name up in lights — and she deserves it.” The couple’s son Jay Bakker, a pastor and author, was also in attendance at the event.
“Keeping her legacy alive is kind of more important now than ever given the world we live in, such a mean-spirited, toxic world, and Tammy was not that at all,” continued Barbato. “There was so much incoming criticism and hate that was directed at her, and she just kept moving forward through love and generosity of spirit and kindness.”
And though Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker may have had very public profiles, some of the other people in the film, like Tammy Faye’s mother, Rachel, played by Cherry Jones, weren’t in the public eye, so Jones was able to take a few more liberties with her role than Chastain and Garfield could.
“I don’t play her like she really was, but I played like she was written in the script,” Jones told THR. “It’s a funny thing … when you’re playing a lesser-known character, the script is not always who they were.”
The Emmy-winning actress felt that Chastain fully embodied Tammy Faye. “What so amazed me was that Jessica got the tone so right. She’s never cartoonish. She’s never over the top. You just believe her,” Jones explained. “I so respect her because I know she was terrified of this role, but that’s the kind of moxie she’s made of. She’s fearless.”
Jones also touched on the impact of Tammy Faye’s legacy today.
“In these divided times we’re in, kindness and compassion toward others never hurt anyone, and it makes the world a better place,” she said. “Tammy Faye was loving toward those who loved her.”
The Eyes of Tammy Faye hits theaters on Friday.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day