Next Question

What Jessica Chastain Hopes People Learn About Tammy Faye Bakker

jessica chastain in front of green backdrop

Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

The fifth season of Next Question kicks off with a wide-ranging interview with the star of The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Katie’s podcast Next Question is back for its fifth season, and we promise the wait was worth it. The new season will address everything from the impacts of long covid to the epidemic of alcoholism among women, but it opens with an intimate and wide-ranging interview with a very special guest: Hollywood heavyweight Jessica Chastain. 

Chastain is up for her second Oscar this year for her starring role in the film The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which follows the meteoric rise and epic fall of legendary televangelist couple Jim and Tammy Fake Bakker. Chastain tells Katie that she was drawn to Bakker’s story because she believes there was much more to the television personality than the media gave her credit for: “She believed that everyone is deserving of love without judgment,” Chastain says, “and I wanted to go back and celebrate her for the incredible things she did.”

Most people remember Bakker as the larger-than-life diva with sky-high eyelashes who became embroiled in a public scandal in 1989. Her husband was imprisoned on numerous counts of fraud and conspiracy relating to a payment made to a woman named Jessica Hahn, who claimed Jim Bakker had raped her. Bakker stood by her husband through the scandal; the couple eventually divorced, and Bakker later remarried.

But Chastain wants to remind audiences of the groundbreaking work Bakker did later in life for the LGBTQ community. Despite being a fundamentalist Christian, Bakker became a vocal gay rights advocate at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She tells Katie, “Politicians weren’t even talking about the AIDS epidemic…and she reminded Christians what it means to be Christian…I just found that so moving and such a radical act of love. It was a political act in some sense, and she was never acknowledged for that…I wanted to celebrate that act of courage.”

Chastain is also an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and gender equality, and in her conversation with Katie does not shy away from her beliefs. When Katie asks if she is comfortable speaking about the continued debate over Roe v. Wade, Chastain responds, “I support Planned Parenthood…They provided me with birth control pills when I was a teenager. Because guess what? Women like sex…just as much as men do. And women also would like to go to college and have a career and plan their families. Planned Parenthood absolutely gave me the tools to do that.”To hear more of Katie’s interview with Chastain, including her thoughts on the moment when Al Pacino predicted that she would become a huge star, make sure to check out the latest episode of Next Question.