Susan Sarandon Q&A: ‘Feud: Bette and Joan’
“She considered herself a character actress. It was made very clear to her that she was not a beauty pretty early on,” reveals Susan Sarandon about Bette Davis, the iconic two-time Oscar winner she played in “Feud: Bette and Joan.” During our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above), she adds, “Her seeming lack of vanity led to very raw performances. So much of her reputation and her advancement in her career came about because she played parts that nobody else wanted… She didn’t mind playing ugly people or mean people or women who were desperate or a murderess. She just bit into it and went crazy with it.”
As the program begins, aging screen legend Crawford (Jessica Lange) needs a comeback desperately. After bringing the book “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” to director Robert Aldrich (Alfred Molina), they must then reach out to Crawford’s arch rival Davis to be the co-lead. The eight-part FX program follows the production of that film, the 1963 Oscar ceremony where Davis was nominated but Crawford was not, and their continuing feud in the following years. Produced by Emmy winner Ryan Murphy, the show co-starred Judy Davis, Stanley Tucci, Jackie Hoffman, Kiernan Shipka, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Regarding the fifth episode set at the Academy Awards, she says, “That was one of Ryan’s favorites; he definitely wanted to direct that one. It was a lot of people but was really fun to watch these clips because so many times we were trying to… recreate what had happened before. I had worked a lot with Catherine at that point, so that was really fun. It’s always excited when everybody gets dressed up in their gowns without the pressure of actually wondering if you’re going to win or lose. It was so much easier.”
Sarandon herself is an Oscar winner, having prevailed on her fifth try as Best Actress for the 1995 film “Dead Man Walking.” Her previous nominations were for “Atlantic City” (1980), “Thelma and Louise” (1991), “Lorenzo’s Oil” (1992), and “The Client” (1994). She is also a four-time Emmy nominee for her guest roles on “Friends” (2001) and “Malcolm in the Middle” (2002) and the telefilms “Bernard and Doris” (2008) and “You Don’t Know Jack” (2010).