Jessica Chastain might well bag herself an Oscar nod this year as she disappears into the role of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in a biopic from the director of The Big Sick.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is based on the 2000 documentary of the same name and takes viewers on a whistle-stop tour through the life of the eponymous media figure.
She rose to prominence in the 1970s alongside her husband, Jim, with whom she set up Christian television network The PTL Club and theme park Heritage USA.
Their empire fell after it was embroiled in controversy in the late ’80s, but Tammy Faye remained a popular figure until her death in 2007, earning praise for her sympathetic attitude towards AIDS patients at the height of the health crisis.
Read on for everything you need to know about The Eyes of Tammy Faye, including UK release date rumours and full cast, including Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield.
When is The Eyes of Tammy Faye’s UK release date?
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is yet to confirm its UK release date, but the film will hit cinemas in the United States from Friday 17th September.
The film’s UK release date could be some time away, as The Eyes of Tammy Faye is likely to be submitted for awards consideration at the end of the year.
Often, Oscar-nominated films are held for international release until closer to the ceremony – usually February or March – to capitalise on buzz generated by the acclaim.
For this reason, we may not see The Eyes of Tammy Faye in the UK until early 2022, but we’ll keep an ear to the ground for updates on the much-anticipated launch.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye cast
Jessica Chastain leads the cast of The Eyes of Tammy Faye, taking the title role of the televangelist who built a reputation on her compassion for members of the LGBTQ+ community and AIDS patients.
The acclaimed talent, also known for her work in The Martian and Stephen King’s IT: Chapter Two, dons extensive prosthetics in order to bear a closer likeness to the real Tammy Faye.
Andrew Garfield co-stars as her first husband Jim Bakker, who was found guilty of mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy in 1989, a case that brought down he and his wife’s considerable television empire.
Succession and The Handmaid’s Tale star Cherry Jones will also feature as Tammy’s mother, Rachel LaValley, while Daredevil‘s Vincent D’Onofrio will portray conservative pastor Jerry Falwell.
The Politician and Why Women Kill actor Sam Jaeger will portray building contractor Roe Messner, who went on to become Tammy Faye’s second husband.
The supporting cast includes Fredric Lehne (The Greatest Showman), Louis Cancelmi (Billions), Gabriel Olds (NCIS), Jay Huguley (The Walking Dead) and country music singer Mark Wystrach.
Is The Eyes of Tammy Faye based on a true story?
Yes, The Eyes of Tammy Faye is based on a true story, with the inspiration for the film coming from a documentary released in 2000 and narrated by Drag Race UK star RuPaul.
After meeting at North Central Bible College in Minnesota, Tammy Faye LaValley and Jim Bakker got married and started a ministry together in 1962.
They eventually moved into television work with a popular children’s programme called Jim and Tammy, but their fame grew substantially after the launch of televangelist news programme The PTL Club in 1974.
Although they achieved huge success at their peak, the Bakkers’ television empire began to crumble in 1988, when news broke that $287,000 of PTL funds was used to buy the silence of secretary Jessica Hahn, who claimed that Jim raped her (an allegation he denies).
While there may be some instances in which the film strays away from true events, as is very common for a Hollywood biopic, there are also moments that are ripped straight from the headlines.
For example, Tammy Faye stirred up controversy among conservative Christians in 1985, when she conducted an interview with gay Christian minister Steven Pieters during her segment on The PTL Club.
Pieters had recently been diagnosed with AIDS and discussed the illness with Tammy Faye, as well as his experience coming out and the death of his partner.
The emotionally charged interview saw Tammy Faye welling up at several moments as she implored her fellow Christians to show compassion to those suffering from AIDS, which was ravaging the LGBTQ+ community at the time.
The interview will be depicted in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, with the scene released in advance by Searchlight Pictures to showcase a moving performance from Chastain. Watch below.
Tammy Faye Bakker passed away in 2007 after a long cancer battle, but her first husband Jim has continued his ministry, courting controversy in 2020 for selling colloidal silver supplements as a cure for COVID-19.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye trailer
In June 2021, Searchlight Pictures released the first full trailer for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which introduces viewers to the rollercoaster true story about the controversial televangelists.
In the run up to the film’s cinema release in the United States, Searchlight has started dropping featurettes to its YouTube channel, including the below interview with Chastain on what attracted her to the role.
Another promo details how director Michael Showalter and executive producer Chastain cast the other roles in the film, featuring additional footage from the production.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is coming soon to UK cinemas. Check out more of our Film coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.