“This project allowed us to talk about Joan’s past, about her childhood, what a hard life it was for her coming up, and what drove her to Hollywood and to become successful,” reveals Jessica Lange about playing iconic actress Joan Crawford in the FX limited series “Feud: Bette and Joan.” In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), she adds, “Really what I hope people understand about her is the tremendous complexity like all human beings. It’s not this or that; it’s not black and white. There’s a lot of area, contradictions. What we tried to do is be very honest and sympathetic.”
Lange portrays Oscar champ Crawford (“Mildred Pierce,” 1945) opposite Susan Sarandon as two-time winner Bette Davis (“Dangerous,” 1935; “Jezebel,” 1938). The two women were fierce rivals who teamed up to star in the cult classic “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962) for director Robert Aldrich (played by Alfred Molina). Other stars include Judy Davis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jackie Hoffman, and Stanley Tucci.
For the eight-part anthology program, one of the highlights is the fifth episode which features the 1963 Academy Awards ceremony where Davis was nominated and Crawford was not. Crawford manipulated some of the other Best Actress nominees, including eventual winner Anne Bancroft (“The Miracle Worker”), so that she would be the one on stage accepting the Oscar in her absence. Of that installment, Lange says, “I was so stunned that somebody could do this. To have, for lack of a better word, the balls to carry this thing through, and to do it with the kind of style, and drive, and ambition that she had. It’s so outside my wheelhouse as a human being.”
Lange is a two-time Oscar winner herself, having prevailed as Best Supporting Actress for “Tootsie” (1982) and Best Actress for “Blue Sky” (1994) among her six career nominations. Along with Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett, they are the only actresses in Academy Awards history to first win in supporting and then lead. She also took home a Tony Award last summer for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” With that trophy, her two Oscars, and three victories at the Emmys, she is just a Grammy away from becoming the 13th person to achieve EGOT status.
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on July 13. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums.