Some historical figures are so absurd in their notoriety, they are just begging for the biopic treatment. One such character, Tammy Faye Messner (formerly Bakker), has been a public curiosity since she became an Evangelist empire mogul with her husband, Jim Bakker. The couple later descended into scandal, but not before Bakker’s idiosyncratic makeup and hairstyle became part of her bemusing persona. Now, actress Jessica Chastain is tackling Bakker’s signature 80s beauty — and she looks unrecognizable as she’s transformed into the Christian icon for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Look at all that eyeliner!
Through heavy makeup, prosthetics, and a lot of drug store blonde hair dye, Chastain has captured Bakker’s campy look, made all the more lifelike with her thick Minnesota accent. There are platinum beehives. There is frosty blue eyeshadow extending up to the eyebrow. And there is so much clumpy mascara, sandwiched between her real and faux lashes.
In the trailer for the film, Chastain is every bit the perky, theatrical TV star, if slightly naïve — in one scene, Bakker is having lunch with Jerry Falwell (played by Vincent D’onofrio), and she pushes back on his denunciation of the “homosexual agenda.” Jim (played by Andrew Garfield) admonishes her, because although the Bakkers created The 700 Club, built a Christian theme park, and arguably founded the modern Christian fundamentalist movement, Falwell still owns the keys to the Evangelist kingdom.
Later, Bakker became a queer icon, as she embraced the LGBTQ+ community and advocated for HIV+/AIDS patients. The film is based on the 2000 documentary of the same name about Bakker’s life, which was narrated by RuPaul. She died in 2007 from colon cancer, which spread to her lungs in her last years. You can watch the trailer below.