In their Actors on Actors conversation Jessica Chastain (‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’) and Rita Moreno (‘West Side Story’) talk about singing for the camera, dating Marlon Brando, and paving the way for women and Hollywood.
The Crimson Peak collaborators discuss what Nightmare Alley and The Eyes of Tammy Faye have in common: “You don’t fool people, they fool themselves.”
In Reunited, Awards Insider hosts a conversation between two Oscar contenders who have collaborated on a previous project. Here, we speak with Nightmare Alley director Guillermo del Toro and Eyes of Tammy Faye star Jessica Chastain, who previously worked together on the 2015 film Crimson Peak.
Guillermo del Toro has something going on with women with keys.
When the Oscar-winning Mexican director and Jessica Chastain reunite in Los Angeles to talk about their work together—on both Mama and Crimson Peak—along with their current projects—Nightmare Alley and The Eyes of Tammy Faye—Chastain points out that at least two of del Toro’s films have featured a woman with keys.
First, it was in 2001’s The Devil’s Backbone, in which Carmen (Marisa Paredes) is the keeper of the keys of the orphanage. And then in Crimson Peak, it’s Chastain’s character, Lucille, who always has a dangling set of house keys at her side. Del Toro himself realizes that Nightmare Alley also has a woman with keys, this time played by Cate Blanchett. “Freud would have something to say about that,” he jokes about this recurring theme.
“What is it about a woman with a ring of keys who could lock you into scary rooms that is so scary?” asks Chastain.
The pair have an easy rapport after having worked so closely on two films. After meeting to talk about Mama, the 2013 horror film that del Toro produced for director Andy Muschietti, the pair was brought back together for 2015’s Crimson Peak, in which Chastain got to really dig in as the baddie Lucille.
Chastain plays a very different character in her latest film, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, for which she’s already earned a SAG Award nomination. But the televangelist whose husband swindled people out of millions of dollars does have something in common with the characters in del Toro’s noir drama: They’re all looking to get ahead by taking advantage of the faith of others. Vanity Fair explored this thematic connection with the pair, along with reminiscing about their early work.
Vanity Fair: What do you remember about the first time you met?
Jessica is in the January 16 issue of The Sunday Times Style! Enjoy the scans in the photo gallery.
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.
Jessica Chastain explained that her grandma is at an age where she does whatever she wants and doesn’t care what happens — like when she decided to playfully sit on Bradley Cooper’s lap during one of Jessica’s parties. The acclaimed actress also chatted about drinking a lot of Bourbon while she portrayed country singer Tammy Wynette and going to new heights for her stunts on new action film, “The 355.”
James welcomes his guests Penelope Cruz and Jessica Chastain to talk about their new movie “The 355,” which included a trip to the hospital for Jessica.
Jessica is in the Christmas issue of “Total Film” magazine. I have added the scans from the magazine and also two images from the photoshoot.
I have also added scans from Voila Italy and Total Film magazines from December.
Jessica Chastain still can’t believe it. The actress just arrived home after spending the past 10 days in the studio with Grammy- and Academy Award-winning producer T Bone Burnett in Nashville, Tennessee, recording music for the upcoming series George & Tammy starring Chastain and Michael Shannon as country legends (and roller-coaster couple) Tammy Wynette and George Jones.
“I’m not a singer,” Chastain attests on a video call from her place in New York, clearly still processing the experience as her blue eyes dart back and forth under her signature red locks, looking far less fearless than the characters she typically portrays. “I’m an actor who can tell the story through a song.” She pauses for a beat. “I hope.”
Among the 31 songs Chastain recorded with Burnett, who famously crafted the music for O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Walk the Line, was Wynette’s iconic “Stand By Your Man.” Chastain cites taking on the anthemic and oft debated ballad as one of the biggest challenges of her career. “Mike Shannon and I were talking about it, and I told him it’s worse than full-frontal nudity,” she says with a snicker. “It could not be more uncomfortable.”
The first time Jessica Chastain saw the Tammy Faye Bakker documentary “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” upon its 2000 release, she was an unknown actress for whom the idea of optioning the rights to an award-winning, Spirit-nominated film in order to produce and star in its feature adaptation was ludicrous.
“My life was very different,” she remembers, calling from Nashville, where she’s in pre-production on “George and Tammy,” an upcoming Spectrum Originals/Paramount Network limited series that will see her take on another iconic Tammy: Wynette. “Back then, I just watched films for pleasure.”
But when Chastain saw the documentary for a second time — during the press tour for 2012’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” her 13th movie, for which she received her second Academy Award nomination — her Hollywood currency was at an all-time high and Bakker seemed a welcome antithesis to the fictional, Osama-bin-Laden-hunting CIA operative she’d just portrayed. “She really was a woman who was able to look past any type of personal offense and hurt, and saw the hurt in others,” Chastain says of Bakker. “I just was really moved by that.”
Jessica Chastain and Sebastian Stan didn’t hold anything back while shooting “The 355.” The pair talked to Access Hollywood’s Zuri Hall and dished on their impressive fight scenes, which Sebastian said left a mark, literally. The 39-year-old actor joked that Jessica hit him and left a footprint on his chest. “That was a delicate little caress on your heart,” she joked. Jessica also ended up in the hospital after a hard fall. The “Avengers” star also revealed he asked “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” star for advice while transforming into Tommy Lee for the upcoming mini-series “Pam & Tommy.” “The 355” hits theaters Jan. 7.