Jessica Chastain may have only portrayed Christian televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker on screen in last year's "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," but she brought an important figure from the late Bakker's life as her date to the 94th Annual Oscars Nominees Luncheon in Los Angeles on Monday.
Chastain, 44, who was nominated for an Oscar for best actress in a leading role for her performance in the film, attended the gala event with AIDS activist and pastor Steve Pieters, whom Bakker famously interviewed in 1985 on her Praise the Lord program "Tammy's House Party."
Pieters, who spoke about his life as a gay man living with HIV during the pair's groundbreaking interview, celebrated being Chastain's guest Monday on Instagram.
"On my way to the Oscar Nominees Luncheon as Jessica Chastain’s date! How many nominees will be bringing a character from their movie?" Pieters wrote alongside photos of him dressed in a blue suit and rainbow-colored tie.
Bakker’s groundbreaking interview with Pieters is depicted in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” which is based on the RuPaul-narrated 2000 documentary of the same name.
“When I saw the documentary and I saw that scene — that incredible moment between Steve Pieters and Tammy Faye — I knew how important it was, because my knowledge of Tammy was just what the media had fed me, this sensationalized version that focused on the drama,” Chastain told NBC News in September 2021. “That is not really the true story of who she was, and that blew me away.”
Chastain, who also was an executive producer of "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," said the interview "was the reason I had to make the film; it was the most important scene.”
“Steve Pieters is phenomenal, all of his answers were so loving and beautiful, and Tammy Faye, she had all these little naive questions. I’m convinced they saved lives with that interview, because many in the conservative evangelical world were disowning their children who are coming out to them."
For his part, Pieters was grateful that Bakker, who died of cancer in 2007 at age 65, used her popular PTL program to shine a light on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, even if some of her questions about his sexuality were deemed too personal by critics.
“I’ve had a number of people who’ve seen the interview tell me over the years, ‘Well, she asked a lot of really kind of silly questions, especially about being gay,’” Pieters told NBC News last year. “But they were the right questions for the audience, and I knew that at the time — even though I was kind of flabbergasted when she asked me if I’ve ever had a sexual experience with a woman. But, you know, they were the right questions for her audience, and I took it as an opportunity to educate them.”
"The Eyes of Tammy Faye" earned a total of two Oscar nominations, including one for makeup and hairstyling. The Oscars ceremony will be held March 27.