Eyes Of Tammy Faye: Why Jessica Chastain's Makeup Is Essential For The Role [MINI]

Jessica Chastain’s dramatic makeup in The Eyes Of Tammy Faye is essential for her portrayal of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. Big, bright, and often over-the-top, the real-life Tammy Faye's signature style is already iconic, and Chastain’s claims that the movie's makeup permanently damaged her skin have only fanned the flames. She doesn't regret wearing it, however, since it was such an essential component of her performance in The Eyes Of Tammy Faye.

When it comes to playing famous, real-life figures, some actors might shy away from heavy makeup or prosthetics in favor of a more naturalistic, stripped-down approach — like Jennifer Lopez playing Tejano superstar Selena in Selena, Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, or Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn — but sometimes, to really capture the essence of a well-known character onscreen, looking the part is key. So, when she took on the role of the late, great Tammy Faye Bakker — a woman known for her decidedly bold makeup choices — Chastain likely knew she was in for some long hours in the makeup chair.

Related: The Eyes Of Tammy Faye Review: Jessica Chastain Elevates Evangelist Biopic

Known for her entrepreneurial spirit and sunny, unflinching optimism, even in the worst of times, the real-life Tammy Faye and her then-husband televangelist Jim Bakker (played in the film by former Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield) were not the first televangelists on the air, but they definitely took the Christian televangelist movement to the next level when their hugely-popular series The PTL Club first hit the airwaves in 1974. Knowing that television was a different beast entirely from in-person evangelizing, Tammy Faye Bakker was keenly aware of the importance of how she and her husband looked onscreen. A master at crafting her brand as an “influencer,” long before the term was coined, Bakker made her makeup, teary-eyed emotionalism, and often outlandish wardrobe choices her signature style — and it worked.

Of course, Chastain’s embrace of Tammy Faye’s iconic makeup style in The Eyes of Tammy Faye is just one aspect of her performance. But if history is any indication, taking a deep prosthetic dive for a role as a real-life person in a biopic is one of the surest roads to Oscar glory. Whether it’s fake noses (Nicole Kidman as Virginia Wolfe in The Hours), wigs and wrinkles (Daniel Day-Lewis as President Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln) or even a unibrow (Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo in Frida), the right marriage of makeup and performer is key. The fact that all three of the above-listed performances scored Oscar nods — with Kidman and Day-Lewis winning — is even further proof of that.

Simply put, makeup was always going to be essential to any realistic portrayal of someone as colorful and flamboyant as Bakker, so, Chastain’s embrace of all aspects of Tammy Faye’s persona — her infamous makeup and the complicated woman beneath it all — was a no brainer. Helping matters immeasurably was Chastain’s A-list makeup team comprised of multiple Emmy and Oscar-winning makeup artists like Linda Dowds (True Detective, Grey Gardens) and Greg Cannon (Dracula, Mrs. Doubtfire). But the real icing on the cake for Chastain is the fact that her spot-on makeup and prosthetics in The Eyes of Tammy Faye make her already stellar performance stand out even more as one of the brightest (literally) award-season contenders of the year.

NEXT: Nightmares In The Makeup Chair: See Robert Englund Transform Into Freddy

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