Jessica Chastain did permanent damage to her skin by playing Tammy Faye?

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When I saw the trailer for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, I knew that Jessica Chastain was making a big play for an Oscar. Chastain has been nominated for Oscars before and never won, but the role of Tammy Faye Bakker hits a lot of sweet spots for the Academy. She’s playing a historical figure (recent history, but still), it’s a true story about crime and religion, and Jessica had to do a huge physical transformation for it. Jessica recently chatted with the LA Times about what it took to play Tammy Faye and just how much makeup she actually had to wear. Some highlights:

Her fear: “I was scared the people were going to make fun of me. And there’s going to be a lot to make fun of if I fail because it’s so out there. I’m swinging for the fences here.”

Her impression of Tammy Faye: “I had been fed that she was a terrible human being — a clown and a joke. The media taught me that she used people and stole their money. I had this judgment against her, and I realized it’s so fascinating how the media can give everyone a collective memory that may not really be the truth. It’s not right. I wanted to do something about it to honor her.

Jessica’s religious background: “I don’t know. I don’t have a religious background. I’m definitely someone who believes that everyone is deserving of love and you do unto others as you would have done unto you. I’m not connected to any organized religion, but I definitely am a faith-based person. I think working with Terrence Malick on “The Tree of Life” created that in me. There was so much he gave me to read and explore from different religions. And this idea that there’s something collectively greater than the individual — I find that to be a beautiful thought. I’m super interested in exploring different forms of faith. And I have some disagreements with some of the things she thought….but I absolutely connect to this idea that God is love.

On Tammy Faye’s relationship to makeup: “This was a conversation we had, all of us as a group, the studio and everything — up until the final moment: Do we need to explain why she wears so much makeup? And for me, no. It’s nobody’s business. It makes her feel pretty. That’s enough. This is how she wants to present herself in the world. Why do we need to justify it? And instead of judging someone for wearing too many pantsuits — especially women — women get judged on our appearance, unlike men. We’re wearing too much makeup. Not enough makeup. Too short of skirts. Our hair’s too crazy. It’s like, you know what? Everyone just needs to shut up about how a woman is presenting themselves in the world.

What it was like in the makeup chair: “I am so lucky that I get these four hours to listen to Tammy before I go on set. I still have the AirPods that are covered with makeup….The longest was actually 7 ½ hours. And I got to set and I was so panicky. I started to have hot flashes because it’s so heavy and hot. I was afraid. It was like going on a long-distance flight every day. Because if it takes 7 ½ hours to put on, it’s going to take at least two hours to get off. It was concerning to me. I was worried about my circulation. By the time I got on set that first day that was 7 ½ hours, I was like, “I have no energy left.” And she’s supposed to show up with so much energy. That was the ’90s look — the very end. That’s the most prosthetics I’ve worn. Even the bronzer and the foundation are so much darker, the lashes are thicker. The makeup gets heavier as she gets older….I think for sure I’ve done some permanent damage to my skin on this.”

Whether Chastain believes that Tammy Faye was involved with her husband’s crimes: “What matters to me is that she was never tried. There was never any evidence that said she knew. What matters to me is that society and the media found her guilty based on what? Based on her mascara?

[From The LA Times]

I really like what Jessica says about accepting Tammy Faye’s love of makeup for what it was, and not trying to explain it or make jokes about it within the film. She wore heavy makeup because she liked to wear heavy makeup. And I do think Jessica became a believer in Tammy Faye and her innocence throughout the film. I mean, going from my memories, Tammy Faye was just as much of a con artist as her husband, but maybe Jessica has a point? I don’t know.

PS… Jess is pretty mad that the LA Times quoted her accurately! She wants people to know that the makeup artists were wonderful.

Cannes Film Festival 2021 - "Annette"

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Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

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28 Responses to “Jessica Chastain did permanent damage to her skin by playing Tammy Faye?”

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  1. questions says:

    I find it interesting when actors talk about how much anxiety they feel playing a role. Granted, they’re paid a lot, but the descriptions of fear are such that I wonder where the interest in doing a role, in the first place, comes from. I know other people have answers. and Jessica Chastain likely has an answer for this too. I just get panicked reading about an actor’s panic — it sounds slightly dreadful.

  2. Skyblue says:

    My question is why watch Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye when you can watch the fabulous 2000 documentary featuring the OG Tammy Faye? 🤷‍♀️

    • Laura-Lee MacDonald says:

      I did not know a documentary existed and now I shall hunt it down and watch the heck out of it! Thank you!!

  3. TaraBest says:

    The podcast You’re Wrong About had a great episode(s?) on this, I highly recommend listening. I was born in the late 80s so my recollection of Tammy Faye is mostly impressions of her by SNL and other jokes. After listening to the podcast I’m actually looking forward to the movie.

    • CommentingBunny says:

      I *love* that podcast!

    • Rural Juror says:

      Aaahhhhh yes!! I was just coming to comment the same thing! I love that podcast and the episode on Tammy Faye was excellent. They’ve done episodes on a lot of maligned women of the 90s and they’ve all been great.

      • TaraBest says:

        Yes! I’m about the same age as the hosts and so many episodes have given me a much better perspective on the maligned women I grew up with. The media/culture at that time got a lot of things wrong and I really enjoy having the record corrected. I’m still deep in the OJ trial series, was listening to the Delorean Detour this morning!

    • Karlie says:

      oh man I love that podcast and am literally listening to the political correctness episode in my ear right now. Gonna hunt down the Tammy Faye ones! I didn’t see those listed on there.

    • M says:

      That’s what I was thinking about this whole article. I love that podcast and recommend it to everyone!

    • Trillion says:

      “You’re Wrong About” is really getting me through these insane times. Sarah and Michael (as well as Karen and Georgia) have been my imaginary friends for the past few years.

  4. Lemon says:

    How could Tammy Faye not know? He embezzled over $1 mill for their personal use. Legally they may not have had a case against her but how could she not be complicit? I had a granny who would sit and watch that crap all day and send checks to Bakker and others. Tammy Faye was the brand.

    The sad thing is people are still giving their money to evangelists and megachurches.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      I do not believe she was an idiot. So, she must have, at the very least, known enough to not ask questions and look the other way. At the very, very least.
      More probable… she knew she was profiting more than expected and enjoyed.

    • The Recluse says:

      She was part of the grift going on behind their religion, so she ain’t blameless.

  5. Laura-Lee MacDonald says:

    I remember this bitch and her shit husband on tv back in the day. Yeah, she knew, she knew exactly what they were both doing. That she had an ironically genuine-seeming ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment and advocated for LGBT people (whom she at least once referred to as “lepers” in an interview, btw) later on does NOT absolve her. I may watch this, but I wonder if an actor who had grown up in the rabidly greedy evangelical movement in the 80’s would see the character differently? I call for a classic ‘competing movie with alternate view’! Lol

    • Mac says:

      All the fake tears. She was on a season of Surreal Life a million years ago and cried those same fake tears when describing her love for Vanilla Ice. It was, indeed, surreal.

  6. Layday says:

    I hope they’re not playing it like she was just this completely innocent victim in all this. I’m my opinion that would be just as bad as completely throwing her under the bus. I think she benefited from what her husband was doing and at a minimum put her head in the sand, which would make her complicit in a lot of the fraud that was committed even though I definitely think her role went beyond that. It’s commendable that she was tolerant of gay people and those with AIDS when a lot of people in the evangelical community weren’t and still aren’t, but that doesn’t make promoting prosperity gospel to enrich yourself ok. I get that Jessica is trying to play up the feminism demonized by the media angle but Tammy was happy to go along for the ride and legitimize the con until it all came crashing down. Lastly It would be a disservice to pretend that some piece of her legacy wasn’t the modern day acceptance and legitimization of Christian greed.

  7. Mary Mae says:

    I remember back in the day when Tammy was on The Surreal Life on I think VH1 when reality TV was still on the wild Wild West side.

    If I remember correctly, I rolled my eyes when I first realized she was part of the cast but I felt like it at least humanized her to me by the end. Which of course was the point. She was definitely a get for that show. And I’m pretty sure they had atleast one frank discussion of what happened to her.

    Do I think she knew what was going on? I don’t remember what I thought after watching it, but she came off very sympathetic. I do think Jim Bakker treated her really badly. I also think now that whatever she might have known, she may have been doing what she thought she needed to do to survive that situation.

    Also if we don’t get Jessica as TFB crying still at some point, I’m not watching this movie.

  8. Leah says:

    With all her talk bashing the media, Jessica is starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist.

    Sister forgets that without the media, no one would know or care what her “I get confused for Bryce Dallas Howard all the time” freckled ass would be doing.

  9. Case says:

    I like Jessica Chastain enough, but I feel like she’s just not THAT great of an actress, honestly. She went to Julliard and I feel like she’s always categorized in the upper tier of this generation of actors but I find her to be pretty uninteresting and similar in most roles? IDK.

  10. Wilma says:

    It’s interesting that Jessica Chastain has this either/or mentality: innocent or guilty. I would suspect it would be more interesting to play in the inbetween.

  11. Ann says:

    I’m not seeing in her makeup why it took 7 hours. Prosthetics? They weren’t needed, Jessica Chastain has a similar enough bone structure to Tammy Faye to go without them. Seems like she “suffered” very unnecessarily. That’s great for an Oscar campaign because the academy loves suffering for art, but still nothing to ruin your skin over. Seems silly to me.

    • The Recluse says:

      And it is highly doubtful that it took Tammy Fay that much time to apply her makeup, so it’s weird that it took so long for Chastain’s make up artists to get the same effect.

  12. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    She can have her opinion about makeup, clothing and whatever else. And I can remember Baker crying Max Factor and Maybelline puddles all over the floor until everyone on set drowned in the toxic sludge with hues of orange, beige, black, blue and pink. Despicable human being inside and out.

  13. isabella says:

    More stunt casting. I wish they’d hire actors who fit the part. i get that producers want a big name to attract publicity, but it’s distracting.

  14. isabella says:

    More stunt casting. I wish they’d hire actors who fit the part. i get that they want a big name to attract publicity, but it’s distracting. It’s like when Nicole Kidman wore a big nose thing to play Virginia Woolf (who was a beautiful woman, so why) and had a fake British accent. She got so much attention by playing against type, whereas they could’ve hired someone who looked and sounded more like Woolf in the first place.

    • The Recluse says:

      All that effort and I just could not believe her as Woolf, so I have never seen the film.