Jessica Chastain had acquired the rights to her latest film “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” back in 2012 when she was just emerging as an actress. She’s just now bringing her scripted adaptation of the 2000 documentary of the same name to the Toronto Film Festival after years of working to get it made. In that time Chastain says she’s found the right to be taken seriously.
“I was afraid of just getting gobbled up,” she told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at Toronto. “There was so much attention immediately on me about what was I wearing or who was I dating. It was all this kind of celebrity fascination and It Girl and titles. And I thought that’s really not what I want to be because I want to have a career, and I’m not here as a delicacy for your enjoyment, a little bonbon. I’m the meal.”
Chastain is at TIFF with two films, both “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and “The Forgiven,” and she also recently “broke that internet” after a steamy, red carpet photo shoot with Oscar Isaac for their new HBO limited series “Scenes From a Marriage.”
Chastain had some fun with the viral video moment with Isaac, but after more than a decade of work to get to this point, she’s aiming for more than just red-carpet attention.
“Now I’m here with a film that I bought the rights to in 2012, and I passionately worked really hard to get made,” she said. “I feel like I’ve worked with the industry to create this space to be taken seriously. That I’m not just a moment, that hopefully I’m going to continue to evolve and grow, as an artist in this industry, not just as someone to be looked upon briefly.”
With “Tammy Faye” in particular, Chastain said she was initially really “scared” at the idea of making the film and even joked that she was trying to “sabotage” the project as it became closer to a reality. The film is a biopic of Tammy Faye Bakker, a televangelist and Christian singer who had become something of a parody by the media thanks to the pounds of makeup that she would perform underneath and her larger-than-life presence.
When she transformed into Bakker for the movie, Chastain as a performer was most afraid of being able to authentically act through those layers, both metaphorically and literally under the makeup. And she cracked it after director Michael Showalter realized that Chastain needed to replicate Tammy Faye’s distinct smile.
“How am I going to have the energy to reach through? When I’m in the costume and the makeup, it’s done perfectly. But also, is it going to be doing the performance for me,” she said. “I can’t just rely on the look. I have to now be as present as the look, if not more so.”
See the full interview with Jessica Chastain above.