The fabulous 8 part series Feud: Bette and Joan will get an airing on BBC Two this Christmas. Created by Ryan Murphy and starring Susan Sarandan as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford, the series is a gorgeously realised glimpse into the golden age of Hollywood and the long running rivalry that developed between the two stars. The stellar cast also features Alfred Molina as film director Robert Aldrich, Stanley Tucci as mogul Jack L. Warner, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland, Judy Davis as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell.
They are joined by Jackie Hoffman as Mamacita, Crawford’s housekeeper, and Alison Wright as Pauline, Aldrich’s assistant. The series also stars Dominic Burgess as Crawford and Davis’ co-star Victor Buono, Sarah Paulson as Geraldine Page, and Kiernan Shipka as Bette Davis’ daughter, B.D.
Beginning with Davis and Crawford’s collaboration on What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? and continuing long after the cameras stopped rolling, Feud: Bette and Joan explores with great style and wit how the two stars endured ageism, sexism and misogyny while struggling to hang on to success and fame in the twilight of their careers.
Speaking of playing such an icon as Bette Davis, Susan Sarandon said ” it was intimidating because Bette was so eccentric in terms of the way she talks, idiosyncratic in the way she does and says everything. It wasn’t just about getting the accent – she stressed very odd words all the time and she also had a very odd walk. I had to think, how do you take that character that everybody is acquainted with the most extreme version of, and how do you ground her and make her a real person? That’s what was scary. You can learn an accent but when you’re paying attention to that – and Jessica felt the same way – you know, how do we make these real women, who were so over the top, seem like real people and not just a caricature? And that’s what terrified me. But then, I’m always drawn to things that terrify me.”
And on wanting to play Joan Crawford, Jessica Lange said “I knew that it would provide a lot of opportunity and Ryan Murphy knows me well enough at this point to know what I like to do and what my strong points are as an actor and the kind of part that I gravitate toward. I trust him. I wouldn’t have been involved in television the way I am, I only did that because of him.”
Episode one starts in 1962, Hollywood legend Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) realises that good roles are not being written for women of her age, so she decides to find one for herself. Coming across the novel What Ever Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell, she knows that she has found the perfect part. She convinces director Robert Aldrich (Alfred Molina) to champion the movie, but now she needs to bring her bitter Hollywood rival and star of equal magnitude Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) on board the project.
Sparks are about to fly.
The full series of Feud: Bette and Joan will be available to watch as a full series on BBC iPlayer from Saturday 16 December at 10pm, after episode one premieres on BBC Two at 9pm.
Ryan Murphy serves as Executive Producer along with Executive Producers Tim Minear, Alexis Martin Woodall and Dede Gardner of Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. The series is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox Television Distribution.