Premiere, film icons Joan Crawford and Bette Davis have issues working together in Hollywood, on Sunday, March 5th, 2017, at 7pm PT, 10 PM ET DirecTV
By Gabrielle Pantera
“The first six weeks just were terrifying to me,” says Feud star Susan Sarandon. “Because trying to find a way that you felt it was grounded, and real, and at the same time so extreme. All those things are historically accurate. But underneath it, these huge personas…pain.”
“Our task was to make it as grounded as possible,” says Sarandon. “It was definitely, finally, we just…I just surrendered and hoped for the best. But, that was a fun day. I mean, that certainly was a fun day. You hide behind that kind of makeup. It’s kind of cool. Apparently, some people thought I had just gone goth when some of the pictures leaked. I understand, you know, hiding behind the Joker mask or whatever does allow you to do a lot of massively, over the top things.”
“When Ryan first talked to me about it, I said, I’m just terrified. I am so scared,” says Feud star Sarandon. “And he says, well, I’m scared too. It will be ok. That really helped me a lot. I said, well, I have to have a dialect coach. Because her speech pattern is the antithesis of mine. I’m so sloppy and slow, and she has got that thing that’s been imitated so many times. There is a great guy named Tim Monich, who I’ve worked with before. So they very generously got him.”
It’s disappointing that Murphy doesn’t take issue with Hollywood glamorizing smoking. Of course, there was lots of smoking during the time period. Tobacco companies were paying actors to smoke on film and giving actors all their cigarettes for free. SAG sued the tobacco companies for the healthcare costs to actors harmed by smoking, and won. In spite of that, actors still have no protection today from workplace smoking.
Many celebrities have died from smoking cigarettes. Just last year, Leonard Nimoy died of emphysema. The practice of subsidizing smoking in films and television continues today. There’s no law requiring producers to reveal that a film or TV series is actually a paid tobacco commercial. And tobacco companies may not even need to pay much. Giving free cigarettes to producers and actors can suffice to get smoking glamorized on camera.
Murphy set his sights on a big issue in Hollywood: the inequality of pay and roles between the sexes that is just as relevant today as it was then. And the feuds between women.
Crawford made the movie happen for the two of them in a movie based on the book What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. This psychological horror film pushes them to be better actresses. They dislike each other, but need each other so they can work in Hollywood.
The story is relevant today as older women in Hollywood still get pushed aside for younger prettier actresses who are starting out. It shows an inequality between the sexes back in the 70s that’s still prevalent today.
In the first episode, Murphy sets the stage to watch the two create a classic horror film. It shows the talent, approach to acting and differences between the two Oscar winners. Murphy’s known for his love of horror. But the first episode feels like a love story to these two women and their talent. It shows the differences in their personal lives and how they approach a role. Young actresses could use this as a tutorial.
Jessica Lang is Crawford. She embodies the actress and her Hollywood sophistication. She’s old Hollywood glamour. Lang’s portrayal is subtle with hints of steal. Crawford had to survive in a male dominated industry.
Susan Sarandon is Davis. Raw, gritty, and ready to take on anyone including the woman who got her the job. Murphy is a genius with lighting Sarandon. She looks like Davis.
Feud: Bette and Joan, is the first episode of the FX anthology series from Ryan Murphy. It tells the story of the legendary rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis (during their collaboration on the Academy Award-nominated thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. The series explores how the two women endured ageism, sexism, and misogyny while struggling to hang on to success and fame in the twilight of their careers.
- Jessica Lange as Joan Crowford
- Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis
- Alfred Molina as the film’s director Robert Aldrich
- Stanley Tucci as studio titan Jack Warner
- Judy Davis as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper
- Jackie Hoffman as Crawford’s housekeeper Mamacita
- Alison Wright as Aldrich’s assistant Pauline
- Dominic Burgess as Crawford and Davis’ co-star Victor Buono
- Catherine Zeta-Jones as film star Olivia de Havilland
- Sarah Paulson as Geraldine Page
- Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell
- Kiernan Shipka as B.D., Bette Davis’ daughter
Feud: Bette and Joan created by Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen and Michael Zam. Executive producers Ryan Murphy. Dede Gardner (of Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment), Tim Minear and Alexis Martin Woodall. The series is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios.