Jessica Chastain recently spoke to The Los Angeles Times about the massive amount of time she spent in the makeup chair to transform into the late televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker.
“I think for sure I’ve done some permanent damage to my skin on this,” Chastain says.
“Listen, I eat very pure and I take very good care of my skin and I stay out of the sun and all that stuff,” she continued. “But it’s heavy. And when you’re wearing it all day every day — the weight of it on your body, it stretches your skin out.”
The biggest surprise, she says, was when she actually took off all that makeup.
“I finally got it off and I was like, ‘I look 50 years old!'” joked the 44 year old.
And all that heavy makeup actually created an unexpected new challenge for her as a performer.
“I was freaked out,” she admitted. “I was like, ‘I don’t know how to act like this.'”
In some ways, it’s like trying to work under heavy prosthetics or makeup in a science-fiction film. Incredibly, like many sci-fi actors, Chastain said that she initially spent upwards of eight hours a day in the makeup chair to complete her makeover into the real Tammy Faye, which was emotionally and physically draining. They were ultimately able to trim it to four, which is still a lot.
“People think it’s easier, but it’s not,” said Chastain of trying to emote and project through the makeup. So much of acting is in the subtle movements of body and face, and suddenly those things are behind a thick layer.
“You have to reach through the makeup,” she said. “You can’t let the makeup be the performance.”
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is scheduled for release on September 17.