Full Metal Jacket and Law & Order: Criminal Intent actor Vincent D’Onofrio will play American Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and conservative activist Jerry Falwell in Fox Searchlight’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye about the rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Bakker.
As production starts today in Charlotte, North Carolina, Searchlight also announced that D’Onofrio joining the cast in addition to Gabriel Olds (Surrogates) as televangelist, media mogul and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson, Mark Wystrach (Johnny Christ) as American actor and country music singer Gary Paxton.
They join previously announced cast Andrew Garfield as Jim Bakker, Jessica Chastain (who is also producing) in the title role, Sam Jaeger as Roe Messner and Chandler Head as Little Tammy Faye, Cherry Jones as Tammy Faye’s mother Rachel, and Fredric Lehne as Tammy Faye’s step-father Fred,
Pic is based on Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s 2000 documentary of the same name. Pic is written by Abe Sylvia (Dead to Me, Dirty Girl) and directed by Michael Showalter (The Big Sick).
In the 1970s and 80s, Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker, rose from humble beginnings to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, and were revered for their message of love, acceptance and prosperity. Tammy Faye was legendary for her indelible eyelashes, her idiosyncratic singing, and her eagerness to embrace people from all walks of life. However, it wasn’t long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled their carefully constructed empire.
Chastain is producing alongside Kelly Carmichael through their Freckle Films banner with Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane of MWM Studios. Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, and Meredith Milton will serve as executive producers as well as Jordana Mollick of Semi-Formal Productions and Adrian Alperovich from MWM Studios. The film will be overseen by Presidents of Production for Film and Television Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum, and Director of Production Richard Ruiz. Fox Searchlight is financing the film and will distribute worldwide.
Chastain said, “I was deeply moved by Tammy Faye’s story from the moment I saw Fenton and Randy’s documentary, so Kelly and I are thrilled to be partnering with them, Fox Searchlight, Michael Showalter, MWM Studios and the rest of the filmmaking team to bring such an incredible true story to audiences. We are looking forward to sharing Tammy Faye’s story with the world, she was truly a woman ahead of her time.”
“We were determined to partner with Freckle Films in its adaptation of the documentary film immediately when Jessica presented Gigi and me with the idea,” said Shane, CCO MWM Studios. “Under the direction of Michael Showalter and a stunning screenplay by Abe Sylvia, we have an award-winning cast in place and look forward to working with Fox Searchlight to bring this incredible story to audiences.”
Showalter stated, “I am overjoyed to be working with the entire team at Searchlight on this film, and to collaborate with extraordinary actors like Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield who will bring so much warmth and intelligence to a pair of compelling and controversial evangelical powerhouses.”
“We are grateful that Jessica brought us this very special project and thrilled to see her and Andrew Garfield, two of the most extraordinary actors of their generation, completely transform themselves to bring the iconic duo of Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker to life. Together with the brilliant and unique sensibility of Michael Showalter, we have total faith that this entire creative team will work cinematic miracles,” said Greenbaum and Greenfield.