How Jessica Chastain transformed into Tammy Faye Bakker for The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Jessica Chastain's transformation into televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker for The Eyes of Tammy Faye (in theaters Sept. 17, following its world premiere Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival) is clever, not cartoonish. How did the team do it? Through a precise four-point plan, which they detail below:
"Jessica has more of an angular face, and Tammy had a much fuller, rounder face," says prosthetic makeup designer Justin Raleigh, who used 3-D modeling and traditional casting to create prosthetics for the star, which took one to two and a half hours to apply each day. The key pieces? "Cheek appliances that would widen her face," and a "prosthetic to fill in the dimple in her chin."
"There's never anything half-ass with her," says hair department head Stephanie Ingram of Chastain, whom she's worked with on 11 films. "She's hardcore." The pair studied hours of footage of Bakker; Ingram created a dozen hairpieces. Even the wig Chastain wore under her wigs to mimic Bakker's patchy natural hair had to be perfect. "That wig got colored about six times."
"Tammy was aware of the power of image — it was her armor," says costume designer Mitchell Travers, who used a mix of designer and thrift-store finds. "As the story becomes more exaggerated, the clothes do as well — I wanted to feel the weight of the clip-ons on her ears, the pressure of the shoulder pads on her body, so that it starts to become slightly suffocating to be Tammy."
"[Tammy] didn't really understand why people made fun of her," says makeup department head Linda Dowds, who hit drugstores and eBay to source the kind of cosmetics Bakker actually wore. It was crucial to Dowds that the character not veer into caricature. "That's [why] you never see her in the movie with mascara running down her face," says Dowds. "We honor the fact that she loved beauty."
A version of this story appears in the October issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Sept. 17 and available to order here. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.