• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2022: Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” | “Scenes from a Marriage”

The camera pans slowly following Jessica Chastain‘s every move, from the restroom to the bedroom, down the stairs into the living room where she finally sits on the sofa next to her husband (played by Oscar Isaac) in front of a couples’ counselor. It’s the opening tracking shot of HBO’s Scenes from a Marriage where Chastain’s talent and versatility are subtly displayed. No surprise she received her sixth Golden Globe nomination for this work as Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or a Motion Picture Made for Television. The camera loves Jessica Chastain’s face, and she loves the camera, perfectly at ease in front of it: film is her habitat. Testament to her gifts as a performer is her concomitant Globe nomination (her seventh) as Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which chronicles the life of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker and her turbulent marriage to Jim Bakker (played by Andrew Garfield).
In this film directed by Michael Showalter, Chastain gives an ambitious, nuanced performance, the first time in her career she’s tackled a decades-spanning biopic with all the trappings of make-up, prosthetic, accent. “There were a number of reasons I wanted to do it,” Chastain said at a press conference at the Venice Film Festival where the movie was in competition. “But No. 1 was it was the scariest role because it’s the most far-reaching.” As she showed in acclaimed movies such as Zero Dark Thirty, Molly’s Game or Salomé, she’s not an actress who shies away from challenges.
Scenes from a Marriage, a modern revisiting of Ingmar Bergman‘s 1973 film with Liv Ullman and Erland Josephson about the unraveling of a seemingly solid marriage represents the second time Chastain and Isaac have starred together as husband and wife after A Most Violent Year (2014). “Oscar and I have also been real friends for quite a while,” Chastain explained at the Venice press conference. “We went to college together, so we’ve been friends more than half of our lives. We know a lot about each other, and we know how to make each other laugh.”
“I was with Liv Ullmann a week ago, we talked about the experience of doing Scenes from a Marriage,” she said. “And just like the original film, this too goes into your personal things that you may think or struggle with as a couple … It helps that in real life I have an incredibly supportive and wonderful husband who brings me often to Italy, which also helps a lot,” she added, laughing.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye was inspired and informed by a documentary about Faye made ten years ago. “I was just blown away by this woman, just was so filled with compassion and love,” said Chastain. “And I was shocked that I didn’t really know anything about her except for the drama and what the media kind of sensationalized. And the Steve Peters interview in the documentary just blew me away. And it’s so profoundly beautiful and loving. And I just knew I had to be a part of telling her true story because I felt like a large injustice was done to her. And how wonderful that there’s a new generation that gets to meet her as she was.”
In real life, Chastain is married to Italian Gianluca Passi de Preposulo and they live in New York City with their two children. She was born in Sacramento, California, on March 24, 1977. Her father, Michael Monasterio, is of Italian origin, and Chastain picked her acting surname from her mother, Jerri Chastain, a vegan chef. She discovered dance at the age of nine and was in a dance troupe by age thirteen. She began performing in Shakespearean productions all over the Bay Area. After a performance of Romeo and Juliet, she was encouraged to audition for Juilliard as a drama major. She soon started to work in TV while continuing to do theater (The Cherry Orchard, Rodney’s Wife, Salomé and Othello). 2011 was her breakthrough year in the film world, with The Help (her first Golden Globe nomination), and Salomé, starring and directed by Al Pacino. She won a Golden Globe as Best Actress in 2014 for Zero Dark Thirty. Other nominations were for A Most Violent Year, Miss Sloane, and Molly’s Game.