Jessica Chastain, an actress long-reputed for her versatility, may have made her most stunning transformation yet. In “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Chastain goes deeply incognito as the titular singing pioneer of post-’60s televangelism. Equally unrecognizable is Andrew Garfield as Faye’s showbiz partner and first husband, Jim Bakker.
According to the official synopsis, 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, rose from humble beginnings to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park…Tammy Faye was legendary for her indelible eyelashes, idiosyncratic singing, and 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 originated from Chastain’s enthusiasm for the RuPaul-narrated 2000 documentary of the same name from Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. After Faye passed away in 2007, Chastain was reportedly inspired by her capacity for love and acceptance (especially towards the LGBTQ community) and became interested in adapting her story.
‘Faye’ will be the fifth feature from director Michael Showalter (“The Big Sick,” “Search Party”), who’s become a major guru for new creative voices. Since 2016, Showalter has transitioned from co-writing David Wain’s meta-comedies like “Wet Hot American Summer” and “They Came Together” to piloting indie projects from younger screenwriters. The script for ‘Faye’ comes from Abe Sylvia, a former “Nurse Jackie” staff writer who also penned “Dead to Me” and other series.
The supporting cast includes Cherry Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio as Jim Bakker’s associate Jerry Falwell, and Gabriel Olds as media mogul Pat Robertson. Chastain produced along with Kelly Carmichael (“Ava”), Rachel Shane (“Motherless Brooklyn”), and Gigi Pritzker (“Drive”). ‘Faye’ hits theaters September 17.