In 1989, Jim was sentenced to prison for bilking PTL supporters out of $158 million. Tammy Faye later divorced her imprisoned husband and returned to her singing career.
Tammy Faye, who later married her husband’s former business partner Roe Messner and took his last name, died in 2007. “The Jim Bakker Show” debuted on the 16th anniversary of the date he made his last PTL appearance, and Jim — who was released from prison in 1994 — co-hosts it to this day with his second wife, Lori.
Director Michael Showalter viewed the Bakkers as a couple who had different approaches to their faith commitment.
“She had a strong connection to the gospel and the literature, and she wanted to convey that,” he told RNS. “Whereas for Jim, it seemed like there was more ambition to kind of build a promised land for everybody to go to.”
Garfield said he was not able to contact Jim Bakker for advice about his portrayal of a man whose perspective on faith seems vastly different from his own.
“I’m not involved in any organized religion,” Garfield said in the interview, describing his spirituality as one of “constant exploration” where “doubt is just as vital as faith.”
“I think, there’s a surrender that has to happen to things that are bigger than us,” he continued. “Maybe part of Jim’s downfall was that he was trying to control something that was uncontrollable and trying to be bigger than the angel he was wrestling with.”
The Bakkers’ two adult children were involved in the production, however.
“Tammy Sue actually recorded a version of one of her mother’s songs, which is a beautiful version,” Showalter said of the tune that was included at the end of the movie. “And she came and visited the set, brought her kids with her.”
The couple’s son, Jay Bakker, has spent much of his adult life creating churches designed ” for people who have given up on church ” — a marked shift from his parents’ methods. Now a minister of Revolution Church in Minneapolis, he tweeted on Monday that he was headed to New York for a premiere of the movie. Earlier in the summer, he noted on Twitter of its ensemble’s work: “They humanized my parents for once and it’s nice to have their humanity recognized.”
Chastain — who said that some media reports had misconstrued a joke she made and that she had “zero damage” from the hours of makeup applications her role required — said her preparation for Tammy Faye’s songs included coaching from an expert at The Juilliard School.
The actress, who was never baptized but considers herself “a very faith-based person,” said she found Tammy Faye’s message of acceptance to be inspiring as she researched and portrayed her.
“The whole thing of Jesus loves you, just the way you are, Jesus loves the way you love, was something that really opened my eyes to what Christianity could be,” Chastain said, “that everyone is deserving of God’s love and grace.”
This article originally appeared at Religion News Service.