Jessica Chastain Brings AIDS Activist from 1985 Tammy Faye Bakker Interview to Oscars Luncheon

Jessica Chastain is nominated for playing televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, who famously interviewed AIDS activist and pastor Steve Pieters on her Christian network in 1985

Reverend Steve Pieters and Jessica Chastain
Photo: Momodu Mansaray/WireImage

Jessica Chastain had an inspirational plus-one.

The 44-year-old star is nominated for Best Actress at the 94th annual Academy Awards this year, highlighting her transformative performance as the late Tammy Faye Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Tammy Faye, who died in 2007, was a personality on the Christian television network PTL, which her husband Jim Bakker helped kickstart.

One pivotal and memorable moment of the televangelist's career — before public scandal overshadowed her — came in 1985 when Tammy Faye interviewed AIDS activist and pastor Steve Pieters via satellite on her broadcast, defying the network's homophobic tendencies.

At the Oscar nominees luncheon held in Los Angeles Monday, Chastain brought Pieters along.

"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 on Instagram, sweetly showing off his outfit for the event.

The iconic moment is reenacted in The Eyes of Tammy Faye with Pieters portrayed by Randy Havens. Back in September, Pieters, 68, reflected on the famous interview, telling PEOPLE that Tammy Faye "wanted to be the first televangelist to interview a gay man with AIDS."

"It was a very scary time and there was still a lot of fear about AIDS and about being around a person with AIDS. And I thought the opportunity to reach an audience that I would never otherwise reach was too valuable to pass by," he explained.

Reverend Steve Pieters and Jessica Chastain
Frazer Harrison/Getty

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Pieters said the Bakkers offered to fly him from California to their studio in North Carolina, but they worried the PTL crew wouldn't be welcoming to an AIDS patient.

"Tammy and Jim would have been quite hospitable to me," Pieters said. "But they were afraid — from what I've heard — that the crew would not be comfortable with my being there and that I might not be treated well by the staff. So they decided to do it by satellite."

During the segment, Tammy Faye preached that God's love applied to everyone regardless of sexual orientation, and she wanted that message to come across in her interview with Pieters. "I was struck by her compassion and supportiveness and affirmation right away," he said. "She had a ministry to the LGBTQ population and to people with AIDS that was very different than your typical televangelist."

RELATED VIDEO: Jessica Chastain 'Grew to Love' Tammy Faye Bakker After Portraying the Televangelist

He added, "I've had people come up to me in restaurants and tell me, 'That interview saved my life. My mother always had PTL on and I was 12 and I heard your interview, and I suddenly knew that I could be gay and Christian and I didn't have to kill myself.' "

In September, Chastain told PEOPLE about shedding new light on Tammy Faye, who had been punished "for the mistakes of her husband."

"She always made it her mission that everyone understood, no matter who they were, that she was grateful that she got to be around them," she said at the time. "We spend so much time and attention on how a woman presents herself in the world and not really what a woman is saying or accomplishing or doing, and there's a lot of judgment. I'm excited now for people to focus on Tammy and the beautiful things that she did."

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is now available on VOD and streaming on HBO Max.

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