Chastain has two projects premiering this month: Michael Showalter’s biopic “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” in which Chastain transformed into the emotive, scandal-plagued evangelist, and Hagai Levi’s present-day reprise of Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 two-hander “Scenes from a Marriage” for HBO, in which the roles of the husband and wife have been flipped. She speaks with L’Officiel about conquering her fears, her deep feeling for fashion, and what keeps her striving forward—both as a champion of equal rights for women in and out of Hollywood and as an artist.
On her role in Scenes from a Marriage: “Women are flesh and blood, and they have desires and they are complicated just like men are. Men have been complicated and have done not nice things and sometimes selfish things, and sometimes women do not nice things and selfish things. That’s what it just means to be human, and I think actually we need to understand that women are human.”
On fashion: “I love the history of fashion. I love wearing a corset, I love those kind of classical looks. I’m not a stick figure and I really don’t…over exercise. I exercise, but I’m not crazy about it. I’m happy about that, and I’m happy to show that I have curves on my body. I’m drawn to that, but I’m also drawn to androgyny sometimes. The one thing I’m not drawn to, and I will say this, is grandma chic. That’s kind of what I’m not drawn to.”
“I have an issue with people blaming women for having a ton of shoes, or too many clothes—come on. If someone wants to look fabulous, let them look fabulous. Let them express themselves in whatever way they want to. If they want to wear a pound of makeup, let them do it. If they want to wear wigs, let them do it. I love fashion and glam as a form of self-expression.”
On what drew her to making a movie about Tammy Faye Bakker: “I think it was the award circuit for Zero Dark Thirty, and people were asking what I wanted to do next, and the Tammy Faye documentary was on TV and I watched it and thought, Wow, this feels like an incredible part. The singing, the preaching, everything about her. It ticked all the boxes, because for me, it also rights a wrong. I was so upset that she’d been treated the way she had by the media. The fact that we vilified her for the makeup she wore and how she looked instead of listening to what she was saying about love, what she was saying about religion, about Christians, and about what Christianity is supposed to be about; how she was reaching across and really trying to love those who feel like they’ve been abandoned. It broke my heart that she was never acknowledged for that. She was just made into a joke. Even now when you mention Tammy Faye, people say, “Oh yeah, she’s singing and there’s mascara running down her face.” I spent hundreds of hours studying her, I looked through all the footage I could find; there’s not one video I could find of mascara running down her face. I think it’s in our memories because of the media, the comedy sketches, and the people making fun of her. And that’s what we remember; it changed our memories of what the reality was. I wanted people to see what she was really about.”
[Photo Credit: Alexi Lubomirski for L’Officiel Magazine]