What to Expect from ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’

In the upcoming biopic, Jessica Chastain makes the transformation of a lifetime.
The Eyes Of Tammy Fay Searchlight Pictures

Welcome to Great Expectations, a recurring series in which we break down the most essential information about an upcoming movie or show. In this edition, we look at what you can expect from the new biographical drama The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker are among the most controversial couples in American history. Now, the notorious televangelists have their own biopic. The Eyes of Tammy Faye, based on Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s 2000 documentary of the same name, is directed by Michael Showalter (The Big Sick) and written by Abe Sylvia (Dead to Me).

Here’s everything you need to know about the movie:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye Release Date (and Where to Watch)

The Eyes of Tammy Faye will be released in theaters on September 17, 2021, following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. As of now, there is no word about its streaming plan.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye Cast

When the trailer for The Eyes of Tammy Faye came out on June 9, 2021, it shocked the internet with the transformation of the film’s main actors. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), who is also a producer on the film, is almost unrecognizable as Tammy Faye Bakker. Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) plays her husband, Jim Bakker.

The cast of The Eyes of Tammy Faye also includes Cherry Jones (The Handmaid’s Tale) as Rachel LaValley, Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket) as Jerry Falwell, Fredric Lehne (The Greatest Showman) as Fred Grover, Louis Cancelmi (The Irishman) as Richard Fletcher, Sam Jaeger (The Handmaid’s Tale) as Roe Messner, Gabriel Olds as Pat Robertson, country singer Mark Wystrach as Gary Paxon, and Jay Huguley (The Walking Dead) as Jimmy Swaggart.

The Plot

The Eyes of Tammy Faye tells the story of the Bakkers, from their remarkable rise to fame to their empire’s epic demise. The Bakkers’ story starts in the 1960s when the couple was traveling around trying to make money as ministers. Their luck changed when revered televangelist Pat Robertson (Olds) invited them to host a show on the Christian Broadcast Network.

The couple springboarded off this success and Jim started to host a massively popular late-night show on the network called The 700 Club. Their success continued, and in the ’80s, the Bakkers were the most popular televangelists by a long shot. Their viewers willingly dished out jaw-dropping amounts of money to the pair on a regular basis. And on this financial success, they built their own network and theme park.

But all things must come to an end, and this was certainly true for Jim and Tammy Faye’s good fortune. In 1987, a former church secretary named Jessica Hahn accused Jim of sexually assaulting her and then paying her $200,000 to keep quiet. From that moment on, things were never the same for the once-beloved duo.

Watch the Trailer

Based on the trailer alone, The Eyes of Tammy Faye looks pretty darn impressive. The reasons include its fittingly flashy look and decades-spanning story. But the most impressive part of the film has to be the transformation of the two lead actors (yes – that’s really Jessica Chastain!)

Check out the trailer for The Eyes of Tammy Faye here and see for yourself.

Jessica Chastain on Her Incredible Transformation

In an interview with People magazine, Jessica Chastain explains that transforming into Tammy Faye Bakker, who has such a distinct look, was no joke. But, with the help of makeup artists Linda Dowds and Stephanie Ingram, she got there with a bang. She says:

“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.”

And, to Chastain, this laborious transformation for The Eyes of Tammy Faye was well worth it. As she tells People:

“I was just so blown away by [Tammy Faye] 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.”

Part of that was Bakker’s insistence on being an advocate when others felt it inappropriate for her to do so. Chastain cites Tammy Faye’s interview with Christian gay minister and AIDS patient Steve Pieters as an important piece of her research:

“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.”

Aurora Amidon: Aurora Amidon spends her days running the Great Expectations column and trying to convince people that Hostel II is one of the best movies of all time. Read her mostly embarrassing tweets here: @aurora_amidon.