One of the biggest dangers in making a TV show about actual Hollywood drama is that the people involved in Hollywood drama are often very concerned with how they are perceived, as Feud creator Ryan Murphy is now learning. According to The Hollywood Reporter, actress Olivia De Havilland is suing FX and Murphy’s Ryan Murphy Productions over the way she was depicted on the show, explaining that it put “false words” into her mouth as part of a “fake interview that did not occur and would not have occurred.”
Catherine Zeta-Jones played De Havilland on Feud, and the lawsuit says that she was depicted as “a hypocrite who sold gossip to promote herself.” This is apparently very upsetting for the real De Havilland, who has prided herself on the “reputation for integrity and dignity” that she built by “refraining from gossip and other unkind, ill-mannered behavior.” She’s also upset about a line from the show where Zeta-Jones’ De Havilland referred to her sister as a “bitch,” which “stands in stark contrast with Olivia de Havilland’s reputation for good manners, class, and kindness.”
De Havilland is the only person who experienced the events from the show and is still alive, but THR says Murphy purposefully chose not to contact her about the series because he didn’t want to “intrude.” Earlier this year, though, THR contacted De Havilland about the show, and she basically responded by saying that she hadn’t seen Feud and that she didn’t care about the Bette Davis/Joan Crawford thing anymore after all these years anyway. She has presumably seen the show since then, and it’s starting to look like Murphy probably should’ve tried reaching out to her.
The lawsuit accuses FX of “infringement of common law right of publicity, invasion of privacy, and unjust enrichment,” and De Havilland is asking for damages, profits from the series, and an injunction to prevent FX from using her name and likeness in the future.