Jessica Chastain nails the look, accent, tragedy & glamour of Tammy Faye Bakker

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There have been numerous books and documentaries about the life and times of Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker. Jim Bakker was sort of a children’s program host-turned-televangelist, and Tammy Faye was his wife, and a singer and co-televangelist. She was famous in the 1980s for her heavy makeup, sky-high hair and her Dynasty-era “glamour.” But she was also known as one of the few “right-wing” figures who refused to demonize the gay community. The Bakkers were very much part of Jerry Falwell’s “religious right” movement in the late 1970s and 1980s. It was a movement which turned reproductive rights and human rights into political wedge issues weaponized by Republicans. But while Ronald Reagan was ignoring the AIDS crisis and Falwell was gay-bashing from the pulpit every week, Tammy Faye refused to play that game. And the gay community loved her for it.

In 2000, there was a documentary called The Eyes of Tammy Faye, all about Tammy Faye’s life and time. Now there’s a feature film, with Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye and Andrew Garfield as Jim Bakker. Here’s the trailer:

I think one of the gifts America has given to the world is that regional Minnesota accent. Everyone loves it. It’s such an incredibly specific accent and Jessica nails it. There’s already a lot of talk about the prosthetics used on Chastain’s face to give her Tammy Faye’s particular look… in some of the clips, the prosthetics look pretty noticeable and distracting, but in other scenes, it looks fine. I’m sure people will be able to forget about it and be absorbed in the drama in a few minutes. The combination of the accent + face prosthetics + ‘80s glamour definitely equals Oscar, you know that right? Finally, Lady Chastain will have an Oscar! I wouldn’t be surprised if Andrew Garfield gets nominated too, his Jim Bakker looks pretty authentic.

In case you’re wondering, that’s Vincent D’Onofrio as Jerry Falwell!! And Cherry Jones is playing Tammy Faye’s mother.

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Screencaps courtesy of the trailer.

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49 Responses to “Jessica Chastain nails the look, accent, tragedy & glamour of Tammy Faye Bakker”

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  1. Lightpurple says:

    Jessica and Cherry? I’ll be there.

    • Esmom says:

      It looks good, doesn’t it? Jessica’s voice has a bit of Sarah Palin to it, too.

    • Merricat says:

      Right? Cherry Jones is a genius of an actor.

      • LightPurple says:

        She was a founding member of American Repertory Theater here in Cambridge. I got to see her in lots of stuff on stage growing up. She’s phenomenal.

  2. Caitlin says:

    Can’t wait. Andrew is a truly an underrated actor. His performance in mainstream is absolutely phenomenal while the film isn’t good his performance is definitely worth seeking out. Also heard his performance in Lin-Manuel Mirands movie musical Tick, Tick BOOM is extremely good.
    Jessica is great in everything well excluding that horrible XMEN film she was in.

  3. Darla says:

    Will definitely see!

  4. Chaine says:

    Jim Baker is still a televangelist and one of the most bats*** crazy ones out there. I think Bill Hader would have been perfect to play him, not sure Garfield has the camp.

    • yvrjanice says:

      Oh my god, yes! Bill Hader would have been perfect!!

    • Meg says:

      Bill hader and jessica seemed to get along really well during IT 2 so im sure they would’ve had fun here too.
      Hes really shown his range in Barry, behind the scenes writing and directing too-starting to think there arent many characters he couldn’t play well

  5. Aurora says:

    Was Tammy’s makeup ever explained? Was she experiencing some sort of psychosis or did she really think her makeup looked good?

    • Merricat says:

      She thought she looked beee-yooo-teee-ful.
      Back in the day, it hurt to look at her. Yikes.

    • BusyLizzy says:

      Honestly the makeup in the 80s was veeeeery over the top. My mother’s driver licence picture is from 82 : crazy perm, blue eyeshadow, lip liner and so much blush you might turn blind by looking at the picture for too long. She was 22 but looked like she was 45.

      I don’t know anything about Tammy Faye but this trailer made me want to read about her. I also agree that Garfield is an underrated actor. He was amazing in Angels in America.

      • Esmom says:

        Makeup in the 80s was pretty over the top, but Tammy’s was next level. Even in the 80s we found her caked on lashes insane.

      • Giddy says:

        Look up the SNL skit on YouTube about the Bakkers. Jan Hooks is Tammy and Phil Hartman as Jim Bakker. It’s hilarious as the Church Lady lectures them! The makeup is so great!

      • Darla says:

        Yes Esmom is right. We were outrageous and the blue eyeshadow, good Lord, but even we cringed over Tammy Faye.

    • Willow says:

      Wasn’t some of her makeup permanent?

    • Granger says:

      So, my mom (who loved Tammy Faye) told me that Tammy Faye grew up very poor, with parents who didn’t like their daughters to wear make-up. When she left home and started to make her own money, she went all out on the make-up — she was just so excited to be able to look the way she wanted to.

  6. Giddy says:

    Jessica Chastain’s talent is stunning. Compare this role with her in The Help, and in Ava, and she absolutely disappears into the character. I love watching her and can’t wait to see this.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Giddy, I agree!! I will watch Chastain in every movie. She was outstanding in The Help to the point I didn’t realize it was her!! Miss Sloane, Molly’s Game, Zero Dark Thirty, A Most Violent Year, The Debt, all of which she transforms herself fully into her character. She has been underrated all these years, I think. Jessica is truly one of the most talented actresses in history, yet no accolades have been bestowed upon her.
      Plus the addition of Cherry Jones was an outstanding choice!! She is an American icon and should be treasured!! I love her as well!!

  7. lisa says:

    this trailer is delicious

    when I was a kid I used to watch Tammy Faye’s house party, it came on before or after the show with Jim. there was often a cooking segment where she would like melt something in the microwave and it was done and she would sing. I loved her so much.

  8. AnnaC says:

    Based in the trailer, I think he’s nailed Jim Bakker but not sure about her Tammy Faye. The voice is ok but I don’t think she remotely resembles her, even with all the prosthetics. She reminds of an actress who guest starred on almost everything in the 80’s but I don’t know her name.

    Remember the short lived talk show she did with Jim J. Bullock? They were so much fun and that’s when I really learned to appreciate her.

    • amiloo says:

      I think she looks like young Christine Ebersole.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      Debra Jo Rupp? Actress that played Kitty Forman in That 70′s show.

      Curious if there will be a Jessica Hahn character in the movie.

      Cherry Jones is an excellent actress to watch.

  9. SusanRagain says:

    Jim and Tammy Faye pretty much kept the National Enquirer in business for a few years.

    The trailer does look good but, I have real problem with people scamming folks for money in the name of religion.

    Which one was the one who insisted people send him millions of dollars or God is gonna call me home? WTH?

  10. Riley says:

    As a born and raised Minnesotan who hadn’t seen the movie Fargo until very recently, I have to say the accents in this trailer are far less offensive to me than the over-the-top ones in that.
    Mostly I’m just salty because I absolutely know people that talk like that in real life. :P I find myself saying certain things that are just so gosh darn Minnesotan and kicking myself. Oh geez, fer sure.
    PS: If you ever want to practice your Minnesotan accent, use this phrase and really emphasize the “O” sound: There’s a boat show at the Fargodome.

    • iconoclast59 says:

      As a fellow denizen of the upper Midwest, I’d like to add that our “a”s are flaaaaater than paaaaancakes. Plus, we have a unique word: “Ope,” which is a mash-up of “oops” and “excuse me.” For example, I’m getting ready to leave, hop in the car, and say, “Ope, I left my sunglasses on the kitchen table.” (“oops” usage) Or, I’m at the grocery store and want to get past someone whose cart is in the middle of the aisle: “Ope, let me squeeze right past ya’ there.” (“excuse me” usage)

      • Riley says:

        @iconoclast59 I say ope at least 15 times a day without even realizing it.

      • SpankyB says:

        We said “ope” when I was growing up in Arizona. I haven’t heard it since i left AZ, there must have been a Minnesotan transplant somewhere along the way to bring us that word.

      • Meg says:

        Lol fellow Minnesotan here, these comments are spot on. Coworker from Iowa says ope too. Its a reflex at this point i couldn’t stop if i tried
        Had no idea tammy faye was a Minnesotan, i assumed she was from the South honestly.
        Fargo is one of the best movies of all time but the directors chose to have cartoonish accents for those actors portraying those characters. Its a bit surprising people from elsewhere dont see that when watching? Driving out of the Midwest growing up people were regularly disappointed our accents werent thicker. Its like me hoping if i travel south it’ll be like dukes of hazard

      • iconoclast59 says:

        @Meg, it’s annoying to be stereotyped, for sure. But, I admit I get a kick out of hearing the various American regional accents, and it’s a shame we don’t hear them as much due to our penchant for relocation. My late brother-in-law had a wonderful twang from growing up in west Texas, but now Texas has so many people from other states/countries, and you hardly hear it when you go there.

    • AnnaC says:

      I live in New England and feel the same. Some of the Boston, or even worse, Maine accents attempted are so cringey!

    • Betsy says:

      As a fellow Minnesotan, “boat” is my kryptonite word. I cannot pronounce that word without it coming out BOOOOTE no matter how hard I try.

      Cherry Jones NAILS the Minnesota accent. Jessica Chastain… she’s in the neighborhood.

      • Riley says:

        My brother moved to Maryland and has lost a lot of his accent, but still roasts me mercilessly when I say something overly Minnesotan. It’s gotten to the point where I say something and go “I heard it!” before he has a chance to make fun of me.

  11. Yonati says:

    I did not recognize Cherry Jones or Vincent D’Onofrio!

    • KNy says:

      Same! Though when Vincent D’Onofrio spoke his voice seemed to give it away (I have seen too many episodes of Law & Order).

  12. jaisymaisy says:

    Well, I think now may be the perfect time to haul out my trusty “I RAN INTO TAMMY FAYE AT THE MALL” t-shirt!

  13. Bunny says:

    I’m not sure about this. I lived near Heritage USA (Fort Mill, SC) in the day, and would see Tammy Faye around town. Her voice was very nasal-y at times. Her eye makeup was always horrible. Her mascara was often flaking.
    One of my besties at the time (we’ve lost touch) got fired for snarking on her while he was waiting on her. She always came into the restaurant with a group of sycophants, and he insulted her under his breath while refilling drinks, except not, and they heard him. He is gay and was extremely upset by the stances PTL was taking.
    Her party kicked up a fuss and he was fired on the spot, only to be told by the manager to be at work the next day.
    He went on to wait on her many times, and she never seemed to notice that he was the person who had insulted her.
    You rarely ever saw Jim & Tammy together. Once I was eating at Farrell’s in Eastland Mall with my dad and they were seated next to us with their children.
    I’ve been on the infamous water slide many times, driven through HUSA at Christmas to see the lights, walked through the crazy shopping mall, etc.
    It was a different time and place, and when it ended, I felt horrible for Jessica Hahn, and for the Bakker’s children.
    I hope Jessica Hahn is doing well. She deserved none of it.

  14. Betsy says:

    Did anyone watch the Eyes of Tammy Faye? From 2000? I guess her personal politics were quite a bit lefter than the fundies she was bilking and was bilking with (I guess that’s kind of alluded to in this movie’s trailer).

  15. Renee says:

    I want to see this and think Chastain & Garfield will nail it. That being said, I am not here for any whitewashing of Tammy Faye. She may have done a lovely thing by embracing the LGBTQ community, but she was in on the grift. She was a co-grifter of all the fraud Jim and she carried out. They took people’s money to live high on the hog. I am not going to pretend that she wasn’t a party to it too. Jim is a scumbag and so too was Tammy.

    • Ann says:

      I agree, but at the same time in the 80s when the AIDS crisis was full-blown and the government was MIA, the gay community had few allies and very much needed all the support it could get, so I understand why they loved her for it.

  16. Dee Kay says:

    The Bakkers were right-wing con artists in a long line of right-wing con artists in this country. I hate how Americans keep falling for these kinds of liars and giving them all of their money and lovel But Tammy Faye was/is a hilarious clown and I love Jessica Chastain so I’m going to watch this movie for sure.

  17. Normades says:

    I’m old enough to remember these fools and I honestly don’t think she’s wearing enough make-up.

    This was pre plastic surgery for all. If this was now Tammy would look worse than the KK klan.

  18. TeeMajor says:

    I will be watching this, I remember as a kid my granny watching and all I remember is her voice and tons and tons of mascara.

  19. Premadonna says:

    I have to say i had absolutely NO idea that Tammy Faye Bakker had been an ally for the gay community! All i knew about her was the money laundering and of course, the makeup.
    I think its great that this film will help ensure that her acceptance of the gay community becomes a key part of her legacy.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      Neither did I. I didn’t realize she was such a vocal supporter of the gay community especially given the despicable behaviour of the Reagans!! All that time that Reagan did nothing to support or help in the era of the AIDS crisis is deplorable, but that is usually the MO of the Repugnant’s!
      As for the movie, I will definitely watch it. In regards to evangelical organizations, they should all be taxed to the ninth degree for their actions and their deceptive actions for money. I remember one, I think in GA, that told his congregation that he needed a new private jet to visit Africa for his evangelical trips! If that doesn’t scream deception, I don’t know what does, as he already had a private jet but he wanted a newer model. Thank goodness I have never had a family member fall for their scams, but many people were living in poverty to support their lifestyles, all in supposed support of spreading the name of God, like no one in Africa had heard of him/her!

  20. manda says:

    Does no one remember her talkshow with Jm J. Bullock (Monroe from Too Close for Comfort)?! That was kind of fun! I think it only lasted a season. Wow, that was years ago