Jessica Chastain is looking gloriously over-the-top as former televangelist and gay rights advocate Tammy Faye Bakker in the first preview for the film The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
The upcoming film follows televangelist Jim Bakker and his wife Tammy Faye, who was famous for challenging the ideas of what a good Christian wife was — not only with her outspoken ideals, but with her bright makeup, big singing voice, and bigger personality.
Chastain stars in the film from director Michael Showalter, which also stars Andrew Garfield as Jim, Vincent D’Onofrio as pastor and conservative idealogue Jerry Falwell, Cherry Jones as Tammy Faye’s mother Rachel LaValley, and Sam Jaeger as Bakker’s second husband, Roe Messner. Abe Sylvia wrote the script based on a 2000 documentary of the same name that was narrated by RuPaul.
The movie shows the Bakkers rising to superstardom as successful televangelists in the 1970s, with the TV show, and eventual network, The PTL Club (short for Praise The Lord). It also shows the selfish and disastrous decisions that led to their downfall after her husband cheated on her and cheated their viewers out of over $150 million.
The couple were some of the early proponents of the so-called "prosperity gospel," which says that Jesus wants American Christians to be wealthy and prosperous. They were, at their height, some of the biggest figures shaping American Christianity.
While Jim Bakker was a classic Christian conservative and is against LGBTQ+ rights, Tammy Faye was an outspoken supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, something that few Evangelical Christians today are.
The trailer for The Eyes of Tammy Faye even shows moments from Bakker’s history-making interview with AIDS activist Steve Pieters, played by Randy Havens. Pieters was a gay Christian, and when Tammy Faye interviewed him on The PTL Club, it was a watershed moment for AIDS visibility.
In the interview, Bakker and Pieters discussed coming out, sexuality, his AIDS diagnosis, and the death of his partner. Bakker commented, "How sad that we as Christians, who are to be the salt of the earth, we who are supposed to be able to love everyone, are afraid so badly of an AIDS patient that we will not go up and put our arm around them and tell them that we care."
After divorcing Bakker, Tammy Faye married Roe Messner and changed her name to Tammy Faye Messner. She died in 2007 after an eleven-year battle with colon cancer.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye hits theaters on September 17.