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Feud creator Ryan Murphy: “we’ll never do a Hollywood story again”

The first season is about Bette Davis versus Joan Crawford. But Murphy sees the show's future as broader than showbiz.

Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) had a notorious rivalry, but Feud wants to explore way beyond Hollywood.
FX

Hollywood feeds itself on a steady stream of gossip, and there’s rarely anything juicier than the shockwaves that emanate from a true celebrity rivalry. The upcoming FX series Feud — which premieres Sunday, March 5 — explores this in decadent fashion through the lens of the decades-long deep freeze between stars Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, whose ongoing clash has become just as legendary as each actress in her own right.

But every season of Feud will detail a different feud, and, as was just announced this week, season two will leave Hollywood behind for London, swapping Bette versus Joan for Prince Charles versus Princess Diana.

In fact, as Feud creator Ryan Murphy reveals on the first episode of I Think You’re Interestingthe new Vox podcast from critic-at-large Todd VanDerWerff — Bette and Joan are the first and last Hollywood rivalry the show will ever focus on.

“I don’t ever want to go back to Hollywood with [Feud],” Murphy said, point blank. He later continued to say that “moving forward ... we’ll never do a Hollywood story again.”

To explain why, Murphy turned to his own script for the very first episode of Feud. In what he calls “the thesis statement” of the show, Olivia de Havilland (played by Catherine Zeta Jones) insists to a skeptical interviewer that feuds aren’t ultimately about anger or hatred, but pain.

“The thing that attracted me to the Bette-and-Joan feud was that it was a 40-year-long feud,” said Murphy. “It really was about, if these two women sat down and had a 10-minute conversation, they would’ve been best friends.”

“Looking forward to [other] seasons,” he said, “we’re looking at all different types of feuds. But ... that’s what every thread will be about. If they had just sat down and realized that their anger was about hurt, they could make it work.”

With that in mind, the possibilities for future subjects of Feud are endless, and Murphy already has his eye on making them as wide-ranging as possible. “I’m not interested in doing, right away, a female-versus-female story again,” he told VanDerWerff. “I’m interested in doing a feud from, like, the 16th century. I’m interested in a feud between two men, even in the ’60s. I’m interested in some sports feuds.”

Basically: Drama is everywhere, and neither Feud nor Murphy is about to pretend like backstage Hollywood fights are the only ones dramatic enough to show onscreen.

I Think You’re Interesting is available on iTunes and Android apps, or you can stream the entire interview here.