Emmys: ‘Feud’ Star Susan Sarandon on ‘The First Time I Really Felt Like Bette’

As we enter Emmy season — nomination voting runs June 12 to June 26 — Yahoo TV will be spotlighting performances and other contributions that we feel deserve recognition.

Most leading ladies want to look beautiful when they appear onscreen, but Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? star Bette Davis chose to make her character look “demented” — much to the horror of her co-star, Joan Crawford. The moment when Bette debuted her garish, scary-clown look was vividly dramatized in FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan by star Susan Sarandon, who (like Davis) applied her own makeup for the Baby Jane scenes. “That moment of walking down [to the stage] was the first time I really felt like Bette,” Sarandon tells Yahoo TV. “She took this big risk to do a very extreme character.”

That risk was one of the sources of friction between Davis and Crawford, says Sarandon, who did extensive research to play the screen legend. Davis “was comfortable making herself look ugly or unattractive at least,” says Sarandon. “Joan, on the other hand, was trying to hold on so desperately to the beauty that she was, and Bette really didn’t respect her for that.”

Though the production of Baby Jane forms the narrative spine of Feud‘s 8 episodes, Sarandon admits to being relieved when those scenes were over. Not only did the white makeup she wore for Bette-as-Jane get “everywhere,” it also gave her granddaughter an unexpected scare. “I answered the phone, a FaceTime, one time with my granddaughter, and she was just horror-struck when she saw my face,” Sarandon recalls. “You forget that you’ve got it on!”

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