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Dossier | Who are the people who inspired the characters in The Eyes of Tammy Faye


Starred and produced by Jessica Chastain, Tammy Faye's Eyes explores the story behind the extraordinary rise, fall and subsequent redemption of the gospel presenter Tammy Faye Bakker, who, alongside her husband Jim Baker, created the most important religious broadcasting network of the 1970s and 1980s in the United States.

At the recent Oscar ceremony® 2022, Chastain was the winner in the category of Best Actress for Tammy Faye's Eyes, and the film also received the award in the category of Best Hair and Makeup.

Based on real events, the film has an extraordinary cast that plays six intriguing real-life characters, whose paths converged around the evangelical empire that the Bakkers knew how to build.

Meet the real people represented in the film:


Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye in The Eyes of Tammy Faye / Image: Star+

Born in Minnesota in 1942, Tammy Faye Bakker attended Central Bible College in Minneapolis and there she met Jim Bakker, who would become her husband. Together they began their evangelistic journey creating a ministry with which they toured the United States, with Jim as a preacher and Tammy as a singer and accordionist. Gradually, they built the largest gospel empire in the country, going through successive marital crises and several media scandals linked to infidelity and fraud. Divorced from Bakker and Remarried to Real Estate Developer Roe Messner, Tammy Faye spent the last decade of her life battling colon cancer, passing away in 2007.

To bring the central character of the plot to life, Jessica Chastain delved into all of Tammy Faye's available television material and studied her gestures and vocal inflections for six years. The actress also majored in singing, a field in which she had little professional experience. Above all, she worked carefully to get her performance to reflect the true spirit of the presenter. “Tammy Faye had nothing to do with the media caricature of her. She was the ordained pastor, Jim was not. She preached acceptance and compassion, and she was sincere. And that’s what I wanted people to see in the movie.”, says Chastain.


Andrew Garfield as Jim Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye / Image: Star+

Jim Bakker, Tammy Faye's husband, was a repressed and suffering man who had lost his way, largely due to the abuse and neglect he suffered as a child. When the religious broadcasting network he built with Tammy Faye made him a millionaire, success and wealth distorted his perception of his own faith, starting his downfall.

British-American actor Andrew Garfield (The spectacular Spider ManUntil the Last ManNever leave me) plays Jim Bakker in the film: “Jim is actually a very complicated person. It was easy for me to fall in love with him. What he and Tammy did was very radical. They created an unusual alternative to other Christian television shows of the time. They had a desire to heal people. Instead of hoping for joy in paradise, they advocated happiness here and now. His misfortune was that he lost sight of all this. But I find your fallibility fascinating.”, explains Garfield.


Cherry Jones as Rachel in The Eyes of Tammy Faye / Image: Star+

Mother of Tammy Faye, Rachel is a deeply religious and ultra-conservative woman who was never fully accepted by the church, despite her devotion and commitment to the faith. Her divorce from Tammy's father made her an eternal outcast in her community. Later, when she moves in with her daughter and Jim during the height of the couple's success, she grows increasingly concerned that Tammy's exuberant personality, prosperity dogma, and over-the-top lifestyle are the antithesis of her Christian beliefs. . Tammy Faye was deeply affected by her mother's disapproval.

In the film, the actress Cherry Jones (The villageThe Handmaid's TaleSuccession) plays Rachel.


Vincent D'Onofrio as Jerry Falwell in The Eyes of Tammy Faye / Image: Star+

A key character in the story is Jerry Falwell, an ardent Bible fanatic who envies the Bakkers' success. Although he feigns friendship with them, Jerry sees them as Minnesota rednecks and resents the fact that their show is so important and reaches such a large audience. He wants what the couple has and knows the only way to get it is to take away what they've built. In a fraudulent ploy, Falwell ends up firing the Bakkers from their own network.

The role of Falwell is played by the actor Vincent D'Onofrio (MIB men in BlackJurassic WorldRatched) who comments about the character: “This world is strange because it is the same as the world of show business. These televangelists are like actors. And Falwell is a kind of Judas. He befriends the Bakkers, earning their trust, and later says he barely knew them. The couple’s trajectory: the rise, the betrayal and their fall – is very Shakespearean.”


Sam Jaeger as Roe Messner in The Eyes of Tammy Faye / Image: Star+

In addition to Jim, two other men had affairs with Tammy Faye. The first of them was Gary Paxton, a renowned singer and record producer played by the musician Mark Wystrach (luck in love). “Gary's impact on the Bakkers' lives was quite significant. In fact, the most important thing for Tammy Faye was music. She preached through music, and her relationship with Paxton had a huge impact on her life.”, says Wystrach.

Roe Messner was Tammy's second husband and was heavily involved in the Bakkers' financial and extramarital affairs. After Tammy and Jim's divorce, Roe married her in 1993. In the film, Roe is played by the actor. Sam Jaeger (The Handmaid's Tale).

Tammy Faye's Eyes premieres Wednesday, April 6 exclusively on Star+.



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