We've seen Jessica Chastain as a southern belle in The Help and a sharp CIA analyst in Zero Dark Thirty, but we've never seen her quite like this. The 44-year-old actress has completely transformed herself as she portrays Christian evangelist and TV personality Tammy Faye Bakker in the upcoming movie, The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
Chastain shared the first exclusive photos from the film, courtesy of People, on her Instagram account, saying, “I found a video of [Bakker] singing a song, and she turned to the camera and said, 'God loves you just the way you are.’ Whatever God means to anyone. I've never been baptized. I didn't grow up within a church, but I do believe in unconditional love. We are all part of this world, part of humanity and part of grace. No matter where you come from, you are perfect, and you are fully and unconditionally loved. And that's what I hope people leave the theater knowing. @people @frecklefilms @searchlightpics 9/17/21.”
In preparation for the movie, Chastain did 10 years of research, telling People, “I just was so blown away by her and her story. 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.”
Alongside Chastain, Andrew Garfield will portray Tammy Faye's husband, Jim Bakker, who co-hosted The PTL Club television program with his wife, until he was accused of rape by actress Jessica Hahn in the late ’80s.
Chastain noted that history has often distorted the life of Tammy Faye, saying, “People were always making her into a clown and punishing her for the mistakes of her husband, which all throughout history women have been the victim of, atoning for the sins of men.”
But there was a side to the televangelist that wasn't often highlighted, including her support for the LGBTQ+ movement. Chastain referenced an interview Bakker held with gay minister and AIDS patient Steve Pieters, saying, “That's really why I wanted to make the movie...in a time when people were even afraid to say AIDS, we had this female televangelist. 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 will be released to theaters on September 17.
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