• Interviews

Bette and Joan: A Feud for the Ages

There is perhaps no bigger artistic champion of great female characters in Hollywood than Ryan Murphy whose Golden Globe-winning shows have featured a company of regular players, which includes Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange. It is no surprise then that his latest project, Feud delves into the contentious relationship between two larger than life Hollywood divas.

The feud between Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) is the stuff of Hollywood lore and it fascinated Ryan Murphy who as a young journalist had a chance to meet and interview Davis shortly before her death. “She was great,” he told the HFPA, “and I’ve always wanted to do something with that interview and all the things that I asked her that didn’t make it into my piece so I put a lot of that into these scripts.”

The series focuses on the infamous running battle between the two women on the set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (the film would earn Davis a Golden Globe nomination). But beyond the flamboyant clash, Murphy told us; the real battle, which both Hollywood trailblazers fought, was against the ageism and sexism intrinsic to the studio system.

The HFPA’s Mirai Konishi, Alessandra Venezia and Elisabeth Sereda spoke to Murphy, Sarandon and Catherine Zeta-Jones about the series.