Jessica Chastain’s theatrical range knows no bounds—she’s played a fiercely protective wife and mother as Anna Morales in A Most Violent Year; the “epitome of grace,” as she puts it, in The Tree of Life; and most recently, she embodied the infamous televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. For W’s annual Best Performances issue, Chastain reflects on almost 10 years of learning about Tammy and her approach to faith—while discovering some religion of her own along the way.
How did The Eyes of Tammy Faye come into your life?
I was on the press tour for Zero Dark Thirty, and I was jet-lagged in a hotel room somewhere. The documentary on Tammy Faye came on television, and I was blown away by her and the true story of who she was. I called my manager and my agent, and I said, “How do I figure out how to make a movie?” I got the rights in 2012, and we were on set shooting seven years later.