Ryan Murphy’s “Feud” is heating up, as the TV mastermind tweeted Tuesday (August 16) that Catherine Zeta-Jones has been cast in the role of Olivia de Havilland. To many, the news is thrilling — others, however, probably think the character is a fictional bore.
But in actuality, the reason why “Feud” is such an eagerly-anticipated project is because it aims to dramatize the tales of classic Hollywood with a modern, all-star flavor much like what Murphy did with “The People v. OJ Simpson.” For starters, Jones will assist Murphy in explaining what happened behind the scenes on “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”
Read on for a briefing of the real-life inspiration behind Murphy’s new series. And remember: You only get your breakfast if you remember to eat your din-din.
Olivia de Zeta-Jones
If you’re saying to yourself, “Wait a minute, Olivia de Havilland wasn’t in ‘Baby Jane’,” then you get a cookie. The Oscar-winner — for 1946’s “To Each His Own” — was a complicated woman who went without speaking to her sister (actress Joan Fontaine) for years at a time. She waged many public and private Hollywood feuds and was even called before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Olivia de Havilland was also a good friend of Bette Davis, who starred in 1962′ “Baby Jane” alongside Joan Crawford, which is why she’s included in the show.
So, what did happen to ‘Baby Jane’?
At the time of the film’s release, both Davis and Crawford were household names whose careers were seen as on the decline. Since both actresses found that pill difficult to swallow, and were accustomed to being the only leading lady on set, they feuded mightily.
The rivalry served the film well, however, with near-daily leaks to the press telling the tale of two actresses who loathed each other. After the movie opened to huge box office success — along with five Academy Award nominations — Davis became convinced that Crawford was secretly lobbying Academy voters to not give her the Best Actress Oscar. And when she didn’t win it, Crawford appeared on stage to accept it for Anne Bancroft — the actress who won. It was a final twist of the knife.
Who else will star?
Murphy has already announced that Susan Sarandon will play Bette Davis and his “American Horror Story” regular Jessica Lange will be Joan Crawford, so you can already imagine those tiger claws coming out.
Alfred Molina will try to keep the peace as “Baby Jane” director Robert Aldrich, Stanley Tucci will run the studio as Jack Warner and Judy Davis will leak the gossip as legendary columnist Hedda Hopper. Dominic Burgess will play beloved, rotund character actor Victor Buono.
More stars will likely be revealed in the weeks to come, but this much is true: Now, as in 1962, the tale of “Baby Jane” is giving viewers a cast worth watching.