Alfred Molina Q&A: ‘Feud: Bette and Joan’
“Robert was very much at the heart of the story, and he was a complicated man, as were all the characters,” explains Alfred Molina about playing director Robert Aldrich in the limited series “Feud: Bette and Joan.” During our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above), he adds, “The best drama comes from those moments in life where characters contradict themselves or behave against type. As in real life, the most interesting moments are when we’re not doing what’s expected of us.”
As the program begins, aging screen legend Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) needs a comeback desperately. After bringing the book “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” to director Aldrich, they must then reach out to Crawford’s arch rival Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) to be the co-lead. The eight-part FX program follows that movie’s production, and Aldrich finds himself in a battle with Warner Bros. head Jack Warner (Stanley Tucci), who wants him to pit the two ladies against each other for the publicity. Produced by Emmy winner Ryan Murphy (“The Normal Heart,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson”), the show co-starred Judy Davis, Jackie Hoffman, Kiernan Shipka, Alison Wright, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
In playing a real-life person with a lengthy directing resume who isn’t remembered by the mass public, Molina says, “It would be nice if their curiosity was piqued a little. They might want to go and check out some of Robert’s movies. He had a very long career as a film director, with a long career before ‘Baby Jane,’ and that resuscitated his career again. He went on to make movies well into his seventies and early eighties. In fact, some of his biggest successes were after ‘Baby Jane,’ with ‘The Dirty Dozen,’ ‘The Longest Yard,’ ‘Ulzana’s Raid.’ He even made a thing called ‘Frisco Kid’ with a young Harrison Ford and Gene Wilder.”
Molina has been part of some of the great casts of the past two decades, receiving SAG Awards nominations as Best Film Ensemble for “Boogie Nights” (1997), “Magnolia” (1999), “Chocolat” (2000), and “An Education” (2009). He also picked up individual bids at SAG and BAFTA for his supporting role in “Frida” (2002). He is a previous Emmy nominee for the TV movie “The Normal Heart” (2014). In our chat, we discuss all of those films as well as his screen debut in Steven Spielberg‘s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981).