We’re pretty excited about Michael Showalter’s upcoming movie The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which will tell the story of the rise and fall of the Bakker empire — the multimillion dollar Christian televangelism institution that was eventually undone by fraud and scandal. Andrew Garfield is playing Jim Bakker while Jessica Chastain goes for broke as the spitting image of Tammy Faye, whose dramatic mascara and enormous hair became telltale signs of the Bakker brand.
All we’ve seen so far is a trailer and the movie doesn’t have a firm release date yet, but a private showing was offered to the couple’s son Jay Bakker, who left the fundamentalist Christianity his parents championed for a more theologically and socially progressive theology as pastor of Minneapolis’ Revolution Church. He’s been frank with the press about both his time getting disillusioned with the brand of religion he was raised in while still feeling love for his father and his late mother.
Bakker didn’t give away too much about the movie, but in a tweet, he praised Chastain and the rest of the cast, saying they “did something most folks or media, with exception of @WorldOfWonder, have never done.”
“They humanized my parents for once,” he continued. “And it’s nice to have their humanity recognized.”
Had a private screening of The eyes of Tammy Faye with my best mate @PeterRollins. @jes_chastain and ensemble did something most folks or media, with exception of @WorldOfWonder, have never done; they humanized my parents for once and it’s nice to have their humanity recognized. pic.twitter.com/t5Ot4l3RSo
— ⚡️Jay Bakker⚡️ (@jaybakker) June 21, 2021
World of Wonder is the production company behind the well-received Tammy Faye Bakker documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which was narrated by RuPaul.
In its salad days, the influence of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker can hardly be overstated. Their blend of Christian piety, preaching and emotional entreaties were widely mocked but funded a lavish lifestyle and proved televangelism could be a viable to make bank. Though Jim Bakker was a founding architect of the Moral Majority and helped build evangelicals into the political force they are today, Tammy Faye broke from the Religious Right on a number of key issues — particularly her support of LGBT couples during the height of the AIDS epidemic.
Allegations of fraud and sex scandals eventually brought the company down and ended the Bakker marriage. That’s a lot to pack into one movie, but the documentary proved it can be done and Showalter has proved adept with telling complex true stories in brisk, breezy fashion with his The Big Sick. And getting a stamp of approval from the man who knew Tammy Faye best is very promising.