The movie was inspired by the documentary of the same name that showed the rise of the Bakker’s to fame on their Christian television network and the ultimate downfall due to a sex scandal.
Talking with People magazine, Chastain pointed out how much of her understanding of Bakker prior to this was steeped in what we know through pop culture and not the true story.
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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