Jessica Chastain’s uncanny likeness to famed televangelist icon Tammy Faye Messner, also known by her previous last name of Bakker, didn’t come about naturally. Chastain took on the larger-than-life character in The Eyes Of Tammy Faye, for which she was nominated for several awards including a Golden Globe for Best Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture for TV and an Academy Award for Best Actress In A Leading Role. All that success came at a price, however, which Chastain revealed during an interview with Katie Couric.
What It Took To Transform Jessica Chastain Into Tammy Faye Messner
Jessica Chastain sat down for a three-part interview with Katie Couric, a portion of which Couric shared to her Instagram page. During that interview, Couric remarked on the long hours it took to totally transform Chastain into the iconic televangelist Tammy Faye Messner. Messner, known for her heavy makeup and willingness to talk about subjects that others in the Christian televangelist industry considered too taboo, wasn’t an easy person to replicate.
“You spent hours upon hours in the makeup chair, didn’t you? And it took a pretty serious toll on you,” Couric remarked. “Can you talk about that?” Chastain did, and even though it sounded like a rough experience based on Couric’s comments, the reality was even more grueling.
A Long, Long, Long Process
“I mean, the longest it was was seven and a half hours,” Chastain replied, adding, “The shortest might’ve been three and a half, four. So every day it was quite a journey.” One shocking fact Chastain shared was how she prepared herself for those long hours in the makeup chair. “I would wear compression stockings,” Chastain explained, “because after a few days I started to get nervous,” she added, seemingly referring to the fact that clots can develop after hours of inactivity.
While some actors have said they can just close their eyes and get a little bit of sleep during the makeup process, that wasn’t in the cards for Chastain. “I don’t know how people say they can sleep in the makeup trailer, I cannot,” she admitted. “When someone’s touching my face, I’m like, ‘okay, look this way, look that way, look up, down.’”
How Did Chastain Cope?
In order to keep her mind occupied throughout the long process, Chastain dove into studying Tammy Faye Messner. “I had earbuds in and I would watch hundreds and hundreds of hours of unused footage that the documentary filmmakers gave me for research. I was constantly every morning in the makeup trailer studying her, studying her voice, watching her interviews. So by the time I got to set, I felt ready and really keyed in.”
That dedication to her craft, despite her discomfort, is probably why Chastain scored so many nominations this awards season. Check out the full clip above to see Chastain’s take on Messner’s iconic Minnesota accent, it’s absolutely darling.
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