Olivia de Havilland Sues FX & Ryan Murphy Over ‘Feud’ Portrayal
Olivia de Havilland is suing FX and Ryan Murphy Productions over her portrayal by Catherine Zeta-Jones in Feud: Bette and Joan.
The legendary actress, who just turned 101 years old on Saturday, filed suit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court over the unauthorized use of her identity in Murphy’s FX series.
The eight-part anthology, which is due to air on BBC Two later this year, chronicles the famed rivalry between film icons Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The show depicted a young de Havilland to explain aspects of the dispute throughout the series.
The actress said through a statement by her attorneys that FX never asked to use her name or identity and did not compensate her.
“[A]ll statements made by Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland in this fake interview are completely false, some inherently so; others false because they were never said,” writes attorney Suzelle Smith. “FX defendants did not engage in protected First Amendment speech in putting false words into the mouth of Olivia de Havilland in a fake interview that did not occur and would not have occurred.”
FX and those involved in the project put de Havilland in “a false light to sensationalize the series,” the statement continued, noting that everyone else portrayed in the series is dead.
The statement from de Havilland’s attorneys adds: “Miss de Havilland was not asked by FX for permission to use her name and identity and was not compensated for such use. Further, the FX series puts words in the mouth of Miss de Havilland which are inaccurate and contrary to the reputation she has built over an 80-year professional life, specifically refusing to engage in gossip mongering about other actors in order to generate media attention for herself.”
The Gone with the Wind actress also takes offense to references made about her sister, Joan Fontaine, with whom she had a strained relationship throughout adulthood. She objects to the term “b*tch-sister”, used by Zeta-Jones in reference to Joan, because she had always shown “remarkable restraint” when their relationship was put under the media spotlight.
FX and Murphy have not yet commented on the lawsuit or de Havilland’s allegations.