Susan Sarandon (‘Feud: Bette and Joan’): ‘I was so terrified’ to play Bette Davis [LISTEN]

“I was so terrified because she’s so big, at the top, and so iconic. She’s been impersonated so much and is very different in terms of the way she sounds and the way she moves than I am,” admits actress Susan Sarandon about portraying the legendary Bette Davis in the new FX limited series “Feud: Bette and Joan.” Sarandon spoke with us recently (listen above) while on the set shooting the final scene of the last episode. About her preparation process, she adds, “It took six weeks at least before the fear-fun factor became in my favor. I started really having fun and wasn’t terrified the whole night, every night.”

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The eight-episode program focuses on the Hollywood back-biting and battles between two-time Oscar winner Davis (“Dangerous,” 1935; “Jezebel,” 1938) and one-time Oscar champ Joan Crawford (“Mildred Pierce,” 1945). Despite their dislike of each other, the two ladies teamed up for the 1962 film “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?.” Several installments are about the behind-the-scenes production of that movie. The following Academy Awards ceremony is a focal point of the fifth episode.

Ryan Murphy (“The People v O.J. Simpson”) is the executive producer and also directs and writes several episodes. Two-time Oscar winner and three-time Emmy champ Jessica Lange plays Crawford. Other cast members include Judy Davis (Hedda Hopper), Alfred Molina (Robert Aldrich), Stanley Tucci (Jack L. Warner), Jackie Hoffman (Mamacita), Alison Wright (Pauline), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Olivia de Havilland), Kathy Bates (Joan Blondell), Dominic Burgess (Victor Buono), Kiernan Shipka (B.D. Hyman), and Sarah Paulson (Geraldine Page).

Related: FX’s ‘Feud: Bette and Joan’
strikes perfect balance between campy and heart-wrenching

We also interviewed Sarandon, Shipka, and Burgess on the “Feud” red carpet premiere this past Wednesday, March 1. In the spirit of feuding, we asked her how she would take down Lange this September to win her first Emmy Award since Lange has several. She jokes, “Oh, I’ll just go for the knees! I’ll just hit her from behind.” Sarandon then adds, “The reason [Bette] cared so much about the Academy Award was because she knew that was a huge part and she probably wouldn’t get another part where she could get nominated, so that meant something to her for that reason.”

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