FX’s newest anthology drama Feud has made quite a splash in just three episodes thus far, which comes as little surprise as FX and Ryan Murphy have found a perfect rhythm with critical darlings American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson and American Horror Story — a list Feud is sure to join come awards season.
Alongside the stellar performances by Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis, Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford, Alfred Molina as Robert Aldrich, and Stanley Tucci as Jack Warner is Jackie Hoffman as Mamacita, Joan Crawford’s German maid and confidant. Hoffman has been around the Hollywood scene for years with roles in Garden State, Kissing Jessica Stein, and Birdman, but her role in Feud is perhaps the most important so far in her career. Murphy, along with Lange and Sarandon, has made a point of highlighting the sexism and ageism working women in Hollywood dealt with “back then,” but it also brings the conversation around to modern times when roles for women with any substance — specifically women over 40 — are few and far between.
Jackie shared her thoughts on why Mamacita was so loyal to Joan, how she approached the role of Mamacita, and what happens after the 1963 Academy Awards.
What was your approach to creating an authentic representation as Mamacita? I imagine you had a tougher time researching than a lot of your co-stars but, at the same time, you have more liberty to put your own spin on her, too.
I rely on my instincts and what’s there in the script to create a character. Since there wasn’t a lot to go on, I relied on her being German, and being someone who was composed and together enough to have 9 children, and put up with Joan Crawford for years. I wonder if her children are watching?
What were you most surprised to learn about the relationship between Mamacita and Joan Crawford?
How much of Joan’s life [she] infiltrated; [she] was a date sometimes.
Why do you think Joan was so trusting of Mamacita or, alternatively, why was Mamacita so loyal to Joan?
Because Mamacita was a woman, so there wasn’t a sexual play or dominance in the way, and Mamacita wasn’t a woman that Joan was in competition with. I had to ask myself the question why Mamacita would stay for so long, considering the abuse that was heaped upon her — I think my character loved Joan and saw the good in her.
Feud has put ageism and sexism in Hollywood (and in all industries, really) back into the spotlight of conversation — what does it mean to you to be a part of something so socially relevant, despite it being a period piece?
I’m thrilled to be in something that tackles this subject, because I’ve been tackling it my entire career, and in my personal life. It means everything to me. Especially in episode 4, I was blessed with this story line and used as the vessel for spreading the message about how important women will be as a demographic.
We skate through the filming of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? and the 1963 Oscar ceremony pretty quickly — what can you tease about the second half of the season?
Sh– goes DOWN!
Watch Feud: Bette and Joan Sundays at 9pm ET on FX.