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An outdoor barbecue turns into a forum for uncomfortable debate in this scene from “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” The film, which chronicles the rise and fall of the televangelist couple Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, stars Andrew Garfield and Jessica Chastain in the lead roles.
This sequence, which occurs as Jim and Tammy Faye are becoming more popular on the Christian Broadcasting Network, involves a gathering thrown by that network’s head, Pat Robertson (Gabriel Olds). Jim is at a table with Robertson and other leaders in the televangelism world, including Jimmy Swaggart (Jay Huguley) and Jerry Falwell (Vincent D’Onofrio).
Tammy Faye is initially seated at another table with the wives, but decides the conversation seems more interesting at the men’s table and makes her way over, with not much subtlety, to join them.
“I wanted to show the extent to which Tammy is trying to operate and be seen and heard in a man’s world,” Michael Showalter said.
He did that with audio cues along with visual ones. When Tammy Faye drags a seat over to the table, the chair scraping across the floor is so loud, people stop to look. “We amplified the sound of the napkin on her lap and the silverware,” Showalter said. “Everything that she’s doing is disrupting this kind of insular boys’ club thing that they’re all having with each other.”
The intention was to show how disruptive Tammy Faye’s behavior seemed to people, but to also shine a light on a person who was always breaking the norms. A discussion between Falwell and Tammy Faye involves his view about the need to fight against “the liberal agenda, feminist agenda, homosexual agenda.” Tammy Faye disagrees.
“I love our country,” she replies, “but America is for them, too.”
“The central conflict that is ignited in this scene between her and Jerry Falwell ends up being the central theme of Tammy Faye’s arc throughout the entire film,” Showalter said.