Why Olivia de Havilland Refuses to Watch ‘Feud’


Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter got hold of her royal majesty Olivia de Havilland, the Oscar-winning actress made famous by her iconic role in 1939’s Gone with the Wind — and the only living actress depicted on Ryan Murphy’s FX anthology series, Feud: Bette and Joan , about the legendary beef between Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) on the set of their 1962 film, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? . De Havilland, who was a good friend of Davis’s and who is played with delicious regality by Catherine Zeta-Jones on the show, told THR that she hasn’t seen the series, but “in principle” is “opposed to any representation of personages who are no longer alive.”

As Murphy recently told THR, he hadn’t reached out to de Havilland in preparation for the series so as not to “intrude” on her. So the paper emailed (yes, emailed) the 100-year-old actress, who lives in Paris, to ask about the show’s portrayal of women she knew quite well, as well as the 1963 Oscars ceremony, which was the subject of the show’s fifth episode. Here is her somewhat biting and absolutely queenly response:

I have received your email with its two questions. I would like to reply first to the second of these, which inquires of me the accuracy of a current television series entitled Feud, which concerns Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and their supposed animosity toward each other. Having not seen the show, I cannot make a valid comment about it. However, in principle, I am opposed to any representation of personages who are no longer alive to judge the accuracy of any incident depicted as involving themselves.

In response to the question about the Oscars episode — in which Crawford, who was not nominated for an award although her co-star Davis was, manages to get onstage anyway and accept the award on behalf of an absent Anne Bancroft — de Havilland said, “As to the 1963 Oscar ceremony, which took place over half a century ago, I regret to say that I have no memory of it whatsoever and therefore cannot vouch for its accuracy.”