THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE Starring Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield Begins Production
FOX Searchlight Pictures announced today that principal photography on THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE is underway in Charlotte, North Carolina. The film is written by Abe Sylvia (Dead to Me, DIRTY GIRL) and directed by Michael Showalter (THE BIG SICK; HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS), and stars Jessica Chastain (MOLLY'S GAME, ZERO DARK THIRTY) and Andrew Garfield (HACKSAW RIDGE, SILENCE). The film is based on Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's acclaimed 2000 documentary of the same name chronicling the dynamic ascent and subsequent demise and redemption of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker as described by Tammy Faye herself.
Chastain will produce alongside Kelly Carmichael (NINE, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN) through their Freckle Films banner with Gigi Pritzker (MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, RABBIT HOLE) and Rachel Shane (MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, HELL OR HIGH WATER) of MWM Studios. Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, and Meredith Milton will serve as executive producers as well as Jordana Mollick of Semi-Formal Productions and Adrian Alperovich from MWM Studios. The film will be overseen by Presidents of Production for Film and Television Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum, and Director of Production Richard Ruiz. FOX Searchlight is financing the film and will distribute worldwide.
THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE is an intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. In the 1970s and 80s, Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker, rose from humble beginnings to create the world's largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, and were revered for their message of love, acceptance and prosperity. Tammy Faye was legendary for her indelible eyelashes, her idiosyncratic singing, and her eagerness to embrace people from all walks of life. However, it wasn't long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled their carefully constructed empire.
Jessica Chastain noted, "I was deeply moved by Tammy Faye's story from the moment I saw Fenton and Randy's documentary, so Kelly and I are thrilled to be partnering with them, FOX Searchlight, Michael Showalter, MWM Studios and the rest of the filmmaking team to bring such an incredible true story to audiences. We are looking forward to sharing Tammy Faye's story with the world, she was truly a woman ahead of her time."
"We were determined to partner with Freckle Films in its adaptation of the documentary film immediately when Jessica presented Gigi and me with the idea," said Rachel Shane, CCO MWM Studios. "Under the direction of Michael Showalter and a stunning screenplay by Abe Sylvia, we have an award-winning cast in place and look forward to working with FOX Searchlight to bring this incredible story to audiences."
Rounding out the ensemble cast are Cherry Jones (The Handmaid's Tale, Succession) as Tammy Faye's mother Rachel, Fredric Lehne (THE GREATEST SHOWMAN) as Tammy Faye's step-father Fred, Gabriel Olds (SURROGATES) as televangelist, media mogul and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson, Vincent D'Onofrio (THE CELL, MEN IN BLACK) as American Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and conservative activist Jerry Falwell, Mark Wystrach (JOHNNY CHRIST), an American actor and COUNTRY MUSIC singer, as Gary Paxton, Sam Jaeger (Parenthood, SHAZAM!) as Roe Messner and Chandler Head (THE GLASS CASTLE) as Little Tammy Faye.
Showalter stated, "I am overjoyed to be working with the entire team at Searchlight on this film, and to collaborate with extraordinary actors like Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield who will bring so much warmth and intelligence to a pair of compelling and controversial evangelical powerhouses."
"We are grateful that Jessica brought us this very special project and thrilled to see her and Andrew Garfield, two of the most extraordinary actors of their generation, completely transform themselves to bring the iconic duo of Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker to life. Together with the brilliant and unique sensibility of Michael Showalter, we have total faith that this entire creative team will work cinematic miracles," said Greenbaum and Greenfield.
Garfield won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for ANGELS IN AMERICA. He made his Broadway debut in 2012 in the revival of Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Death Of A Salesman, opposite Phillip Seymour-Hoffman and directed by Mike Nichols. His portrayal of Biff Loman earned him a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
Garfield has been very busy on the Broadway circuit most recently in the Tony-award adaptation of "Angels in America," which won him a Tony for his critically acclaimed performance. On the film side he was also recently tapped to play pianist James Marsh in "Instrumental," which will be selling at the Cannes Film Festival.