eyes tammy faye
Televangelist couple Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, left, will be portrayed by actors Andrew Garfield and Jessica Chastain in biopic “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” coming to theaters this fall (AP Photo/Lou Krasky, left; Photo courtesy Searchlight Pictures)

Biopic to Depict Televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, 80’s-Era Scandals

By Emily Miller

Tammy Faye Bakker’s story has been told in countless television interviews, as the punchline in “Saturday Night Live” skits and in a number of musicals.

Now it’s one step closer to getting the Hollywood treatment.

Famed televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker will be portrayed by actors Andrew Garfield (“The Amazing Spider-Man”) and Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”) in upcoming film “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” The multi-million dollar biopic from Searchlight Pictures, a unit of The Walt Disney Company, is slated to release in theaters nationwide this fall.

First-look photos published by People Magazine show Chastain’s remarkable transformation into Tammy Faye Bakker, complete with her signature bright eye makeup and outrageous lashes.

One picture shows the actress, who won an Oscar for her role in “Zero Dark Thirty,” alongside Garfield in what appears to be a re-creation of the Bakkers’ 1987 interview with “Nightline.” The live interview was the couple’s first after leaving the PTL (Praise The Lord) television network amid a sex scandal involving Jim Bakker and another woman — what anchor Ted Koppel described at the time as a “national soap opera.”

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Another shows her clutching a microphone, one hand raised, as Garfield, who also starred in the religious drama “Silence,” looks on, a longhaired cat in his lap.

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is produced by Chastain, who told People she was moved by Tammy Faye Bakker’s story after watching the 2000 documentary by the same name. Chastain spent a decade researching the televangelist, who became an unlikely gay icon.

“I just was so blown away by her and her story,” Chastain told the magazine.

“The thing I loved the most about Tammy is her capacity to love. She knew what it felt like to not feel important, and she didn’t want anyone to experience that.”

In upcoming biopic, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield portray Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. (Photo courtesy Searchlight Pictures)

The caricature of Tammy Faye Bakker she had known — with mascara streaming down her face — didn’t necessarily fit who she actually was, Chastain said, “making her into a clown and punishing her for the mistakes of her husband, which all throughout history women have been the victim of, atoning for the sins of men.”

On Wednesday, the actress posted several of the photos on her Instagram page alongside a caption recalling a video she had seen of Tammy Faye Bakker.

In the video, the televangelist sang a song, then turned to the camera and said, “God loves you just the way you are.”

“I’ve never been baptized. I didn’t grow up within a church, but I do believe in unconditional love,” Chastain wrote. “We are all part of this world, part of humanity and part of grace. No matter where you come from, you are perfect, and you are fully and unconditionally loved. And that’s what I hope people leave the theater knowing.”

Actors Andrew Garfield and Jessica Chastain recreate Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s notable 1987 “Nightline” interview in upcoming biopic “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (Photo courtesy Searchlight Pictures)

The biopic also will depict a number of other evangelicals who were prominent during the 1980s, according to its IMDb page.

Vincent D’Onofrio, who starred in the TV show “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” is set to appear in the film as Jerry Falwell Sr., who took over PTL after the Bakkers’ departure. The film also features Gabriel Olds as Pat Robertson and Jay Huguley as Jimmy Swaggart.

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were launched into stardom after creating PTL, a popular Christian news show and satellite network, in the 1970s. At the height of their fame, they also opened a Christian theme park called Heritage USA.

After Jim Bakker’s sex scandal, he was convicted of financial fraud and spent five years in federal prison. The couple divorced in 1992.

Alongside his second wife, Lori, Jim Bakker now hosts “The Jim Bakker Show” which is broadcast from Branson, Missouri where they live. Bakker recently made headlines for receiving pandemic-related federal loans for his ministry.

Tammy Faye Bakker, later Tammy Faye Messner, died of cancer in 2007.

Biopic film “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” has been slated to release in theaters on Sept. 17.

Emily McFarland MillerEmily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for Religion News Service.

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6 thoughts on “Biopic to Depict Televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, 80’s-Era Scandals”

  1. Frances Christenson

    Christians love their drama families. Just look at the Zacharias group. The theme repeats itself.

  2. Gordon Hackman

    Sadly, Jim Baker hasn’t changed much but now makes money hawking end times survivalist prep instead of the prosperity gospel.

    1. I actually saw him speak at a local church in the late 90’s. He was selling his “I was wrong” book, and prophesying/ predicting that Y2K would bring the apocalypse. I guess he was wrong about that too!

  3. “Bakker recently made headlines for receiving pandemic-related federal loans for his ministry.”
    He also made headlines in 2020 for hawking a phony COVID treatment that he called “Silver Solution”. He was sued by at least a couple of states, but I don’t find any news about the outcomes.

    I remember after his prison time he wrote a book called “I Was Wrong” that supposedly exhibited repentance. But it seems like his break from defrauding sheep was only temporary, like an addict who gets sober for a week.

  4. Fred Monninots

    If there was any one group who ginned up the Y2K crisis, it was the church. Y2K was the fifth horseman of the apocalypse and who could be saved from the falling planes and blown up computers?
    And to many who listened and found out how wrong they were would rightfully give up any idea of them having the right idea about Jesus and salvation.
    And the same clowns who led this circus are still around peddling snake oil and survival kits.

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