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‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’: Jessica Chastain: ‘Friends in the industry have told me to stop talking, to be careful’ | Culture

Actress Jessica Chastain, who has just been nominated for an Oscar.
Actress Jessica Chastain, who has just been nominated for an Oscar.Charlie Grey

Jessica Chastain is celebrating a decade in cinema. “Can you believe it?” she asks from a hotel room in María Cristina Hotel in San Sebastián in Spain’s Basque Country. “Do I get a cake? Because this is a celebration…,” she says pointing to her green detox juice and the two identical glasses on the table (the second one has just been brought in without a word about what was wrong with the first). Among other things, Chastain has spent the decade trying to get a movie made about televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker.

During the 1980s, Bakker and her husband Jim built a Christian-Evangelical empire – one that included a television channel and a theme park. When she was arrested for fraud and conspiracy, the media turned her into a national joke for her excessive naivety, enthusiasm and makeup. In The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Jessica Chastain retells her story – a role that has landed her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Chastain also produced the movie. But this is not the first film this year in which the 44-year-old has acted and produced, she also wore both hats on The 355, a movie about a group of international super spies, which also stars Penélope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger and Fan Bingbing. This year, Chastain is taking center stage.

The world first discovered Chastain at the premiere of The Tree of Life (2011) at the Cannes Film Festival, when she walked the red carpet with Brad Pitt on one side and Sean Penn on the other, evoking classic Hollywood glamor. In reality, she gripped on to them because she was worried her legs would give way. “I didn’t feel anxiety about connecting to other artists and getting to work with people I really admire, I more felt anxiety about the media,” she explains. “This is the first time I’m realizing this as I’m talking. In the same way that the media devoured Tammy, there’s a sense of devouring women, treating them as commodities.”

People were so upset that my character didn’t have a love story in Zero Dark Thirty. Journalists and critics would ask me about things like that

In 2011, another five films were released that starred Chastain. In the space of one year, the actress – who gets embarrassed when people sing Happy Birthday to her in public – found herself presenting a film in Berlin, another in Toronto, two in Cannes and another two in Venice. Movies such as Take Shelter, The Help and The Debt showcased her versatility and she began to be lauded as the “best actress of her generation,” or as in the words of Al Pacino – who picked her for the docudrama Salomé – “the next Meryl Streep.” But Chastain felt that it was just a matter of time before she disappointed everyone. “I’m the unknown everyone’s already sick of,” she said at the time.

When she won a Golden Globe for her role in Zero Dark Thirty, Chastain said in her acceptance speech that she had worked very hard to get where she was. The magazine Variety later published an anonymous statement from a Hollywood public relations agency that warned that these kinds of statements do not tend to go down well. Meanwhile, everyone was talking about the new rising star, Jennifer Lawrence, who was admired by all. This is when the rumors began that the two actresses couldn’t stand one another. But instead of ignoring the rumors, Chastain dismissed them in a message on Facebook – a move that was not common back in 2013. Since then, she hasn’t stopped speaking out.

“People were so upset that my character didn’t have a love story in Zero Dark Thirty. Journalists and critics would ask me about things like that,” she says. “I constantly said ‘I am playing a woman who isn’t defined by the relationship in her life, she’s defined by her work.’ And it’s a very shocking thing for society to acknowledge because it’s a reality – but it’s not the media’s reality of what a woman is. So that’s when I started speaking up about it.” Without looking at the face of her publicist, she adds: “I absolutely have people in the industry who are dear friends, who I know care about me and love me, tell me to stop talking. It’s like ‘be careful’ of saying too much, because they wanted to make sure that I would have a long career.”

Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield in ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye.’
Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield in ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye.’

Chastain’s background is in theater. At 21 years of age, she won a scholarship to The Juilliard School, the most prestigious performing arts school in the United States, which allowed her to become the first member of her family to receive a university education. She learned how to play complex female characters, but when she arrived in Hollywood, she realized that the film industry had little to offer her. Not even after two consecutive Oscar nominations. So in 2016, she founded production company Freckle Films. “I wanted to use my career and my work as political filmmaking in terms of how we as a society view gender, race, class, sexual identity and sexual preference.”

But Hollywood has changed over the past decade, and Chastain is now one of the most visible faces of this new shift. In 2017, she called out filmmaker Bryan Singer on Twitter, sharing an article that highlighted the sexual assault allegations against the director of X-Men-Dark Phoenix. When asked about actor Johnny Depp’s preference for working with an earpiece so as not to have to learn his lines, she said she preferred to be “professional” and learn the script. And she has also become a vocal advocate for equal pay, helping actress Octavia Spencer, her co-star in The Help, negotiate a salary five times her initial pay for a film together.

Al Pacino and Jessica Chastain in 2006.
Al Pacino and Jessica Chastain in 2006.Stephen Shugerman (Getty Images)

“There was that moment in Cannes… I was not planning on saying that. It went viral.” Chastain is referring to a press conference at the end of the 2017 festival, which she had participated in as a jury member. During the conference, she confessed that she found the representation of female characters in the official selection “disturbing.” Chastain argued that if there were more female directors, there would be more diversity in the female characters in films of the official selection. “After I said that, I went, ‘Oh did I just hurt a festival that has been so generous with me?’ The reality was very sweet. Thierry Fremàux [the director of the Cannes Film Festival] a year later in press said that he was so grateful that we had talked about women in the festival and that they had made changes because of that.” She herself has seen those changes: “I don’t think about something before I say it, I just say it.” Although she confesses: “There are times when I go, ‘Oh gosh, now it’s going to become a huge thing’.”

Another challenge has been balancing the roles of actor and producer. She explains: “The producer wants to get the movie made, the actor wants more time.” This conflict can cause tension, especially when it comes to a character that requires as much preparation as Tammy Faye Bakker, someone who can easily fall into caricature. “I had to just completely embarrass myself in this part, which is not a fun thing to do,” she explains. “I thought for my whole life, they could go, ‘Oh God Jessica’s Tammy was crazy.’ That could be the joke that follows me for my whole career. And I had to be okay with that.”

But The Eyes of Tammy Faye does not descend into caricature because it treats the character with tenderness. That’s not to say it ignores her eccentricity, but instead of parodying her as the media did, the movie portrays her as a woman who triumphed in a man’s industry.

(l-r) Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz y Lupita Nyong'o at the Cannes Film Festival.
(l-r) Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz y Lupita Nyong’o at the Cannes Film Festival.George Pimentel (WireImage)

After the scandal of her divorce, Bakker became a hero of the gay community. She said that when everyone turned their back on her, it was the LGBTQ+ community who came to her aid. “And I will always love them for that.” A 2000 documentary about Bakker, titled The Eyes of Tammy Faye, was narrated by drag queen RuPaul, and serves as the basis for Chastain’s movie.

“Tammy was fabulously camp, but you also don’t want to do something that’s just that. She would have fun and make people laugh, but I always saw loneliness in everything she did. Even when she was being funny. To me, she was so innately lonely. And that’s why I think she desperately wanted to love people, people who felt different, on the outside, because she felt on the outside.”

As a producer, Chastain believes that the best strategy is to alternate “grown-up” movies such as The Eyes of Tammy Faye with more commercial fare such as The 355. The idea for the latter project came about at the 2017 Cannes festival. She explains how she felt “a certain… sadness” at the sight of so many film posters with male casts, which were seeking financing. She asked her agent: “Why are they all men?” Her agent replied: “I think you will have to find a way to do it yourself.” The end result is a movie produced via a kind of cooperative: the five female stars will be the owners of the movie and will split the profits. A number of Hollywood studios tried to buy it, but they turned them down. “They already had the chance to make this film,” she states.



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Culture

Top 10 Urban Property Hotspots

Bradford And Blackpool Lead The Pack

Bradford is the top urban property hotspot for the second consecutive quarter, exclusive data from OnTheMarket reveals.

A combination of affordable house prices and growing number of buyers being priced out of nearby Leeds is helping lift Bradford’s property market, OnTheMarket said.

Speaking to This is Money, Robert McCarthy, manager of Hunters estate agency in Bradford, said buyers were attracted to the area because properties are ‘dirt cheap.’

Hotspots: Bradford is the top urban property hotspot for the second consecutive quarter, data reveals
Hotspots: Bradford is the top urban property hotspot for the second consecutive quarter, data reveals

He said: ‘Bradford is seeing a high increase in first time buyers and investors, with properties ranging from around £70,000 for a two bedroomed terrace, £110,000-£130,000 for a three to four bedroom terrace and £120,000 to £240,000 for a three bedroom semi-detached or detached property.

‘This gives a buyer much more for their money, while keeping the mortgage payments lower.’

He added: ‘This week we had a three bedroom semi-detached property go on the market needing some work at £100,000.

‘We we had over 90 requests to view, with some buyers offering before a viewing at well over the asking price.

‘I personally bought a three bedroom semi-detached renovation project in the area with a large garden for £51,000 a few years ago.

‘Now fully renovated, if I was selling to put it on the market it would be around £180,000 to £190,000.’

Mr McCarthy told This is Money that it was possible to buy a one or two bedroom flat in the centre of Bradford for between £20,000 to £60,000.

Urban property hotspots

Blackpool, Rochdale and Plymouth came in second, third and fourth place respectively in OnTheMarket’s latest rankings, with Rochdale climbing from 23rd to third place.

As cities like Manchester become increasingly expensive, Rochdale has ballooned in popularity with buyers.

Andrew Cardwell, manging director of Cardwells Estate Agents, said he wasn’t surprised about Rochdale’s colossal climb in the rankings.

Ample space: The property in Bradford is link detached and perfect for families
Ample space: The property in Bradford is link detached and perfect for families
Time to eat: The dining room in this Bradford property is chic and modern

Time to eat: The dining room in this Bradford property is chic and modern

Outdoor space: the property has a low maintenance garden perfect for entertaining
Outdoor space: the property has a low maintenance garden perfect for entertaining

He said: ‘Earlier this year Rochdale was recognised as one of the most affordable places to buy a property, with an average house price of around £206,000.

‘As well as offering excellent value for money, it’s within easy reach of Manchester city centre and has beautiful countryside.’

Plymouth jumped from 22nd to fourth place in the rankings. It is the only southern location to make it to the top five, OnTheMarket said.

Plymouth is home to HMNB Devonport, the largest naval base in western Europe and the city is brimming with shops and restaurants.

Jacob Tebb, president of OnTheMarket, told This is Money: ‘Property buying decisions continue to be heavily influenced by affordability, according to our latest hotspots index, which reveals that some of the most active or “hottest” areas also offer buyers the best value.”

He added: ‘Overall, the north/south divide is holding firm, with some of the most vibrant and cheapest locations in the north seeing the most heat in terms of housing market activity and only one southern location making it into the top ten.’

Leicester, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Sunderland, Wakefield and Derby also made it to the top ten, while Middlesborough, Burnley and Coventry were just outside the top 10.

Wakefield rose from thirtieth to ninth place, while Birmingham climbed from forty-third to twenty-third place.

Where is the market cooling? Urban property hotspots

OnTheMarket added: ‘Moving in the other direction, demand in Wigan cooled significantly, dropping from second to fifteenth place in our rankings, while Liverpool has fallen from eleventh place in the first quarter to thirtieth.

‘Worthing, one of the few southern locations to be considered a hotspot, fell from twentieth to fifty-third place. The “coolest” hotspot on our list is Brighton.’

The average price of a house in Brighton and Hove was £422,000 in April, according to the Office for National Statistics. Its coastal location and proximity to London makes it popular but expensive with buyers.

Activity in Gloucester, Norwich and Warrington is also cooling, OnTheMarket said.

How is the London property market faring?

OnTheMarket crunched separate data for the London property market. The data suggested there has been ‘less fluctuation nationally and very little movement’, On The Market said.

Within the London-focused rankings, Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Sutton, Redbridge and Newham comprised the top five, followed by Bexley, Hillingdon and Enfield. Hounslow and Croydon also made it to the top 10.

However, Hounslow dropped out of the top five London hotspots in the quarter, while Lambeth, Southwark and Merton all fell four places.

In the last few years, higher mortgage rates have put a dampener on the property market. However, the Bank of England is expected to cut interest rates this summer and some banks and building societies have already started trimming rates on their mortgage deals.

Barclays recently upped the ante in the mortgage price war currently playing out between banks and building societies.

The mortgage lender cut rates by up to 0.33 percentage points across a wide range of deals for both homebuyers and those remortgaging, resulting in several new best-buys.

Halifax also announced it was cutting mortgage rates by up to 0.13 percentage points on selected deals.

What’s on sale now?

1. Three-bed semi-detached house, Bradford, £190,000

This three-bedroom semi-detached house at Hopefield Way, Bierley in Bradford, is on sale via Hunters estate agency for £190,000.

It has a light and airy living room and a spacious kitchen-diner. The property has gardens at the front and rear and comes with one driveway parking space.

Bargain: This three-bed semi-detached home on sale via Hunters could be yours for £190,000
Bargain: This three-bed semi-detached home on sale via Hunters could be yours for £190,000
Chill time: The semi-detached house in Hopefield Way, Bierley, is light and airy inside
Chill time: The semi-detached house in Hopefield Way, Bierley, is light and airy inside
Culinary delights: The Bradford property comes equipped with a spacious kitchen-diner
Culinary delights: The Bradford property comes equipped with a spacious kitchen-diner
Relax: One of the three bedrooms on offer at the property in Bradford
Relax: One of the three bedrooms on offer at the property in Bradford

2. Two-bed flat, Plymouth, £220,000

Plush: This spacious two-bed flat in Plymouth is on sale via Julian Marks for £220,000
Plush: This spacious two-bed flat in Plymouth is on sale via Julian Marks for £220,000
Features: The period features at the two-bed flat in Plymouth are clear to see
Features: The period features at the two-bed flat in Plymouth are clear to see
All the mod cons: The Plymouth flat comes equipped with a newly fitted pristine kitchen
All the mod cons: The Plymouth flat comes equipped with a newly fitted pristine kitchen
Space: The Plymouth flat has a small private garden and communal grounds
Space: The Plymouth flat has a small private garden and communal grounds

This two-bedroom ground floor flat on sale via Julian Marks is set in a substantial end of terrace late Victorian-era property and is listed for £220,000.

The newly fitted kitchen is modern and stylish, and elsewhere charming period features have been retained.

The property has been owned by the same people since 1994 and comes with use of a small private garden, as well as a communal garden.

3. Four-bed house, Rochdale, £325,000

Ideal: This four-bed detached house on sale via Hunters could be yours for £325,000
Ideal: This four-bed detached house on sale via Hunters could be yours for £325,000
Family hub: The living room in this Rochdale property is spacious and calming
Family hub: The living room in this Rochdale property is spacious and calming
Ready to go: The property in Milnrow, Rochdale, is in turn key condition
Ready to go: The property in Milnrow, Rochdale, is in turn key condition

This four-bedroom detached property located in Milnrow, Rochdale, is on sale via Hunters for £325,000.

The house is in mint condition throughout with light and airy rooms. A family could move straight into this home without needing to lift a finger. There’s off-road parking, a single garage and gardens to the front and rear.

It’s an ideal property for a growing family.


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Culture

Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by ‘Savills’ reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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