Olivia de Havilland filed a lawsuit against FX Networks and Ryan Murphy on Friday. The actress is suing over her portrayal on the series ‘Feud: Bette and Joan.’
The Oscar-winning actress claimed she didn’t give her permission to be portrayed in the show, and also that her depiction has harmed her reputation.
‘Feud’ is getting served
After creating eight successful television series, earning him 20 Emmy nominations and four Emmy wins, Ryan Murphy is facing trouble with his latest series, ‘Feud.’
‘Feud’ portrays the famous feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. It stars Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis, Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford, and Catherine Zeta-Jones as de Havilland. The show was critically claimed and is expected to nab Emmy nominations.
Ms. de Havilland and Davis were close friends and starred in four films together, including ‘Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte.’
While de Havilland remains the only person alive who experienced the events surrounding the titular feud, Bette Davis, and Joan Crawford died in 1989 and 1977, she’s not happy with her portrayal on the FX series.
The actress filed a lawsuit claiming harms to her reputation. As well as pointing out that no one consulted her for the series.
The show portrays something quite different, though
In the series, Ms. de Havilland, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, is an important character. Appearing in six episodes as a confidante to Davis and an active participant in the Davis-Crawford drama.
Suzelle Smith, an attorney for de Havilland, said in a statement that FX was “wrong to ignore Miss de Havilland and proceed without her permission for its own profit.”
The file argues that putting “false statements into a living person’s mouth and damaging their reputation is not protected by the First Amendment because the work is cloaked as fiction.”
The show also portrays de Havilland giving an interview and offering details on the feud. Which the actress has denied.
“She has refused to use what she knew about the private or public lives of other actors (which was a considerable amount) to promote her own press attention and celebrity status,” a valuable aspect of her character, the suit says.
The complaint requests a jury trial to determine damages that include emotional distress and economic losses as well as profits made by defendants using de Havilland’s likeness.
Neither Murphy nor FX has stated about the lawsuit.
Not her first rodeo
De Havilland is best known for the 1939 film ‘Gone With the Wind’. She also won two Oscars in a career spanning 50 movies.
Her personal life and career were marked by her own feud with her younger sister and Oscar-winner Joan Fontaine. The pair would grow up to be the only sisters to win best-actress Oscars. Fontaine past away in 2013.
De Havilland is pretty much Hollywood royalty, in fact, she’s literally positioned in the lawsuit as a “living legend.”
The actress, not only won two Academy Awards but also received many other awards and distinctions over her lifetime.
Including, the Legion of Honor award in Paris, the National Medal of Arts in the U.S., and more recently, a damehood by the Queen of England.
The Dame even received a standing ovation at the 75th Academy Awards that lasted a full 4 minutes.
Throughout her career, De Havilland won Oscars for 1946’s ‘To Each His Own’ and 1949’s ‘The Heiress,’ and was nominated for three other films, including ‘Gone with the Wind.’
Her later projects included TV’s ‘Roots: The Next Generations’ and ‘North and South, Book II.’
The recent lawsuit against FX and Ryan Murphy is not de Havilland’s first rodeo taking on the big guys in court.
She successfully sued Warner Bros. in 1943. It was a landmark case that gave us the de Havilland Law, which changed the way actors’ contracts with Hollywood studios were enforced.
De Havilland moved to Paris in the 1950s. Where she currently resides and has only made rare public appearances since retiring.
The Dame turned 101 on July 1st and is the last surviving female superstar of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Exploring famous feuds
The series, which aired earlier this year, explored the complex tension and bad blood between the two Hollywood screen legends in the later years of their life. Specifically, the show focused on their filming on 1962’s ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane’.
In an interview, Ryan Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter in April that he did not contact de Havilland about her portrayal in the series.
“I didn’t write Olivia because I didn’t want to be disrespectful and ask her, ‘Did this happen? Did that happen? What was your take on that?’” he said.
The show is part of Ryan Murphy’s larger FX anthology series depicting feuds throughout history. The anthology series’ next announced chapter will take fans into royalty, as it’ll portray the ill-fated marriage of Britain’s Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
The specific premiere date is yet to be announced, but it will hit the screens in 2018.