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‘FEUD’ Stars Naomi Watts, Diane Lane and Calista Flockhart Talk Capote, His Swans and Crushing Betrayal

Everything you need to know about ‘FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans’ on FX and Hulu

FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans takes viewers into the beauty, glamour and heartbreak of New York high society in the ‘60s. Babe Paley, Slim Keith, C.Z. Guest, and Lee Radziwill were not only the original ladies who lunched, but smart, talented social influencers and fashion icons who ruled long before “feminism” and “social media’ were commonplace words – and Truman Capote was the fabulous, brilliant bestie who ultimately betrayed them all by sharing their secrets when he published excerpts from his book Answered Prayers in Esquire magazine.

FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans stars Naomi Watts and Diane Lane dish their powerhouse characters, the real-life story of how Capote won his place among his Swans, and what to expect from FX and Hulu’s dark yet dazzling docu-drama series. Plus, is Calista Flockhart’s return to the small screen the start of a Flockhart renaissance?

‘Feud’ star Naomi Watts says Capote’s Swans were ahead of their time

Naomi Watts as Babe Paley, 2024
Naomi Watts as Babe Paley, 2024FX

The first installment of Ryan Murphy’s Feud recounted the backstage antics between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Based on Laurence Leamer’s best-seller, Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era, the second season of Feud now introduces audiences to a group of women who knew how to set the perfect table, craft the perfect guest list, and make the perfect fashion choices.

They were rich, well-respected deal-makers who would likely have been moguls in their own rights today, but at the time, they were disempowered by their station and their marriages.

“They were trapped in a wrong time, but that’s how society was operating,” star and executive producer Naomi Watts says of Capote’s Swans. “They were unaccredited for the work and the amount of time they put into making their husbands’ businesses go well – but we definitely showed it” in the series.

Truman Capote in FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans, 2024
Truman Capote in FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans, 2024FX

While these powerhouse women served men who rarely appreciated them and constantly put them in their place, Capote was a brilliant gay man who shined his light on them. Not only did he listen to them and honor how fabulous they were, but he was also a fabulous accessory, himself.

“He was the greatest writer of his generation,” portrayer Tom Hollander explains. “He was a dazzling accouterment on their dinner table. And at some level, he was filling a great gap in their emotional lives. He was an incredibly entertaining, perceptive, clever, interesting, singular man, so I’d say that’s what they were getting out of [their relationships with him]. Quite a lot… until it went wrong.”

Tom Hollander as Truman Capote in FEUD, 2024
Tom Hollander as Truman Capote, 2024 Pari Dukovic/FX

FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans traces Capote’s life from the ‘50s to his premature death in 1984, with Jessica Lange playing the mother who was at the root of the trauma and desperate need to belong that fueled him. While the series seeks to understand the brilliant, troubled writer, it also delves heavily into the women who welcomed him into their circle.

For Babe Paley – whose philandering husband barely hid his cheating ways – Capote became the gay best friend with whom she shared all of her deepest secrets. In many ways, he was like a second, gay husband, or what some today would call a “gusband.”

“She fell into this relationship as if it was the deepest romance she’d ever had – minus the sex, but I think that allowed her to go deeper,” Watts says.

Naomi Watts and Tom Hollander in FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans
Naomi Watts and Tom Hollander in FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans, 2024FX

No topic was off limits and while the series reflects how deeply the women trusted him, Feud also leans into the superficial glamour and pettiness of the scene they ruled and makes the audience privy to some of Capote’s duplicity along the way.

The documentary-style episode dedicated to the planning and festivities of Capote’s 1966 Black and White Ball, in particular, is both a veritable feast for the eyes and a peek behind the curtain. Honoring the Maysles brothers’ documentary, the episode “Masquerade 1966,” which premieres February 7, captures Capote’s behavior around the event of the season and reflects the games he played with his Swans – not to mention the gleefully way in which he socially destroys Demi Moore’s Anne “Bang-Bang” Woodward!

Related: Young Demi Moore: A Look Back at the Glamorous Star’s ’80s Beginnings

While viewers are in on the secret, Capote’s Swans are taken by surprise when the chapters from his unpublished book hit newsstands and the thinly veiled fictionalization of their lives leaves them completely exposed.

Naomi Watts, Chloe Sevigny, and Diane Lane, 2024
Naomi Watts, Chloe Sevigny, and Diane Lane, 2024FX

“When the betrayal occurs, she just comes undone,” Watts says of Babe. “They all do because they entrusted him. But for Babe, I think all of the wounds start coming to surface – not just the wound that he has created, but the wounds of her life.

“She’s also facing her death,” she adds. “So a lot of big questions are coming up about the regrets and, ‘What has my life amounted to? What could I have done? What should I have done?’ That speaks to a kind of universal language, I think, that we all can relate to.”

For Slim Keith, who helped Capote land his million-dollar deal for In Cold Blood, the betrayal is both personal and professional.

Feud star Diane Lane talks Truman’s crushing betrayal

Diane Lane as Slim Keith, 2024
Diane Lane as Slim Keith, 2024Pari Dukovic/FX

“I got the wonderful cheat of having access to her memoir, so I have an extra amount of compassion for the amount of anger that she is accountable for in this story,” says portrayer Diane Lane. “Because she did empower him and nurture his growth and was there for a lot of his formative time. They traveled the world together and she did seem to have a sixth sense about not trusting him with too much of her secrets.

“So when she was chosen to be the person quoted about other people’s indiscretions in the infamous ‘Answered Prayers’ article in Esquire – as though she were the one betraying the ladies who lunch and everyone else – I think she was really baffled.”

Related: From ‘The Outsiders’ to ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ See The Amazing Career of Diane Lane

As the women of Feud band together and refuse to give Capote the forgiveness he desperately craves, the series seeks to understand that betrayal and the self-destructive choices that ultimately led to his ruin, disintegration, and death.

‘Feud’ star Calista Flockhart offers a peek behind the scenes

With her return to the small screen to play Jackie O’s sister Lee Radziwill in Feud, Calista Flockhart found herself surrounded by a cast that includes Naomi Watts as Babe Paley, Diane Lane as Slim Keith, Chloë Sevigny as C.Z. Guest, Demi Moore as Ann Woodward, Molly Ringwald as Joanne Carson and Tom Hollander as the titular Capote.

Related: Molly Ringwald Movies: A Look Back Through the ’80s Teen Icon’s Best Films

Calista Flockhart as Lee Radziwill, 2024
Calista Flockhart as Lee Radziwill, 2024Pari Dukovic/FX

“It was a joy for me to be with these iconic women,” Flockhart shares. “They’re all so talented, and the set was really supportive, and it was really fun to go through it with everybody and to play with everybody.”

With the role a meaty one, the actress admits she jumped at the chance to reunite with writer and executive producer Jon Robin Baitz again. “I have been a fan of Robbie’s [since] way back when we were doing New York theater together,” she explains. “And I remember in Brothers and Sisters, we had a very collaborative relationship when we were discovering who Kitty was as a character. So yes, I was excited to do this again with Robbie because I admire and love his talent, his intelligence, and also his sensitivity and humanity.”

Since dancing onto the TV scene as Ally McBeal over 25 years ago and getting serious as Brothers & Sisters’ Kitty, Flockhart won over a whole new generation as Supergirl’s media maven Cat Grant. With FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans bringing Flockhart back to our small screens, the actress is game to see what comes next.

“One can hope it’s a professional renaissance for me… because I like renaissance,” Flockhart teases with a smile.

New episodes of FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans premiere Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX and FXX and Streaming Next Day on Hulu, with the first episodes now streaming.

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