The Thelma & Louise star reveals Glee creator Ryan first pitched her the project, which details the classic rivalry between Davis and Joan Crawford on the set of their 1962 thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, as a movie long ago, but she wasn’t convinced there would be enough substance.
“Ryan had brought it to me when it was a film many years before, and he was going to direct, then someone else was going to direct, and it never (came together),” Susan recalled on U.S. breakfast show Today.
“It just seemed like a one-joke thing: they hate each other, they’re b**chy, but so what?”
Ryan subsequently reworked the idea into a TV drama, the first season for a new anthology series, with the Davis/Crawford story told over eight hour-long episodes – and it was only then that Susan started to see real potential in the project.
She continued, “When he placed it in the eight hours (of a series), there could be a context and you could say something more about Hollywood and ask the question: has it changed so much? What actually went on for ageing actresses then, or now, and we could delineate more characters… so it could be developed more, and that made it more interesting.”
There was another big aspect of the production which drew Susan to sign on: “Half the directors were women, and we also had a lot of young women… being mentored (on set), so that really appealed to me too,” she shared.
The pull of starring opposite Jessica Lange as Crawford was also too good to turn own.
“Jessica I’ve known, and you don’t get to work with another woman (so closely) very often,” she smiled.
The series also stars Alfred Molina, Judy Davis, and Stanley Tucci – as movie boss Jack Warner, while Catherine Zeta-Jones will portray actress Olivia de Havilland, Kathy Bates will play Oscar nominee Joan Blondell, and her American Horror Story co-star Sarah Paulson will play Geraldine Page.
Feud debuts in the U.S. next month (Mar17).