Michael Showalter interview: ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’ director

“I was a teenager when the whole Bakker scandal broke,” says Michael Showalter, the director of “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” which chronicles the life of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker and her turbulent marriage to Jim Bakker. “So I have strong memories of seeing Tammy on the cover of tabloids. The country at that time was sort of caught up with her makeup, the way she sounded and the way she looked. There was a collective enjoyment, it seemed like, in watching their downfall.” Watch the exclusive video interview with Showalter above.

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” stars Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain as the title character along with Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield as Tammy’s husband, Jim, and Emmy winner Cherry Jones as Tammy’s mother Rachel Grover. After seeing the documentary of the same name in 2000, Showalter saw that the public had made a rush to judgment on Tammy Faye.

“I was interested in the idea of looking past the surface,” Showalter reveals. “With Tammy Faye there’s a really clear opportunity to look at the makeup [and say] you can’t judge a book by its cover. I also came to realize over the course of working on the film, working with Jessica and getting to know the character, we originally thought of the makeup as armor protecting her from the outside world. We came to think that the makeup was a true expression of who she was. It wasn’t an armor, it was her inner beauty reflected on the outside. The extreme nature of it was something to be celebrated.”

Chastain co-produced the film and Showalter was impressed with what the actress was able to bring to Tammy Faye. “She is funny,” he says. “We know that she’s this incredible dramatic actress and has all of this gravitas, but I also felt that Jessica was able to capture some of the lighter sides of the character and the silliness and the singing. Jessica always talked about Tammy Faye’s message, which was that of love, acceptance and inclusion. For Jessica there was a connection to Tammy Faye’s spirituality that was the guiding light of the performance. In a sense [Tammy] was exiled from her community for actually wanting to practice what she was preaching.”

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UPLOADED Dec 13, 2021 2:29 pm