For Jay Bakker, ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’ Is Both Loving and Traumatic

When Jay Bakker heard that Hollywood needed to make one other film about his mother and father, Tammy Faye Messner and Jim Bakker—the previous first couple of televangelism, who constructed a business empire round their ministry just for it to crash and burn in intercourse and cash scandals—he known as a therapist.

“I’ve at all times been in remedy, however I mentioned, ‘I feel it’s time to go over these things once more and put together myself for this popping out,’” says Jay—“this” being The Eyes of Tammy Faye, the biopic opening Friday that stars Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield as his mother and father. “As a result of numerous trauma occurred.”

Jay, who’s a pastor and cofounder of the inclusive Revolution Church, says he has additionally modified his social media settings forward of Friday’s premiere, making some accounts personal and disabling feedback on others. If there was a silver lining to his household’s scandals within the ’80s—which had been coated so rabidly on the time that Jay recollects tabloid reporters providing him cash for gossip as a child—it was that there was no social media then.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is well-acted and well-intentioned. Chastain was inspired to produce the movie after seeing the 2000 documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye and realizing how unfairly Messner was handled by the media. However to make that time, the movie, written by Abe Sylvia and directed by Michael Showalter, would additionally need to revisit the household’s humiliations, which started when Jay was 11.

©Searchlight Footage/Everett Assortment.

That yr it was revealed that Jim had had an affair with a former church secretary and paid her $265,000 to maintain her quiet. Jim was stripped of his ministerial credentials. Then, within the following years, as Tammy Faye battled an habit to Ativan, Jim was convicted of federal fees that he had bilked his followers out of $158 million, and was despatched to jail. (Initially sentenced to 45 years, Jim’s sentence was diminished and he in the end served nearly 5 years in jail.)

So whereas Jay believed in Chastain, he says, “On the identical time, I used to be like, Right here we go once more. This factor by no means ends. My mother and father misplaced all the things. My dad went to jail. My mother and father acquired divorced. I handled that in highschool.” After a sigh, he provides, “Nothing surprises me. I’ve had a very unusual life.”

In 1990, Kevin Spacey and Bernadette Peters performed Jay’s mother and father in a TV film known as Fall From Grace, which was “terrible…actually, actually unhealthy,” says Jay. He recollects Peters having to primarily defend Tammy Faye to tv interviewers who had been nonetheless intent on characterizing his mom as “a clown” and his father as “a legal.”

Chastain had years to prepare to play Tammy Faye—doing intensive analysis and having conversations with Jay and his sister Tammy Sue about their late mom, who died in 2007. When it got here time for Jay to see the ultimate movie, Chastain was in such a Tammy Faye headspace that she gave Jay a motherly warning about a number of intercourse scenes. In a single sequence, Chastain’s Tammy Faye—whereas pregnant with Jay—consummates an affair with Grammy-winning gospel singer and eccentric Gary Paxton.

“I feel she was nervous about me seeing that,” says Jay, declaring that the film needed to conflate the precise timeline. (In actuality, Jay was born in 1975, a number of years earlier than Tammy Faye grew nearer to Paxton, in keeping with Jay.) However Jay, who preaches the identical forgiveness and acceptance that his mom did, was not involved. His mother and father have been rendered such laughing shares and/or criminals by the media for many years that to him, depictions of his mom and father as sexual philanderers are an enchancment. “Truly, my mother and father being proven as human beings and sexual beings, I believed, Properly, that’s nice. Individuals are sexual,” says Jay. “I believed it was very humanizing in a approach.” | For Jay Bakker, ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’ Is Each Loving and Traumatic

Huynh Nguyen

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