Hollywood legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford had a lot working against them. On FX's Feud: Bette and Joan, we see how Hollywood profited off the bitter and storied feud it helped foster between the two aging actresses, which came to a head on the set of 1962's Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Crawford's (Jessica Lange) rivalry was fueled by industry sexism, ageism, and vicious rumor mongering courtesy of gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. And unfortunately, that kind of exploitation and manipulation of women was not left behind in the '60s.
During Sunday night's episode of the Ryan Murphy series, Sarandon took to Twitter to recount an instance of women being pitted against each other from her own career. In 1998, Sarandon starred alongside Julia Roberts in Stepmom. Around the time of the film's release, rumors that the two disliked each other spread. Sarandon revealed that her own PR rep was actually the one behind the gossip. "Press printed that Julia & I hated each other during Stepmom. Found out it was my PR person creating rumors," she tweeted.
Sarandon also linked to a 1998 Entertainment Weekly article that talks about the rumored fight. "If you make a movie with a male star," Sarandon told EW at the time, "everyone assumes you’re fucking. If it’s a female star, everyone assumes you’re fighting." Roberts also denied that they were quarreling, joking, "Actually, Susan and I were kinda hoping that people would say we were fucking. Now that’s delicious cocktail-party fodder. But this? Boring."
Nearly 20 years after that, and Sarandon still has journalists eager to uncover and exploit a tiff between her and her female co-stars. "The #1 question I get in interviews is whether Jessica & I get along," Sarandon tweeted. "Jess & I not only got along great during filming, we’re now dating …I mean, staying in touch. She’s one of the reasons I agreed to do the series. Working with brilliant actors only makes you better."
The fact that Sarandon even has to answer that kind of question in this day and age, 50 years after Feud takes place, is mind-boggling and frustrating. But if you're watching the show, you'll see exactly what she means by "brilliant" — both she and Lange are stunning. And knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that the women are indeed friends off screen makes their performances all the more impressive.