'Feud' Season 2: A Guide to the 'Extraordinary' Lineup in 'Capote vs. The Swans'

Naomi Watts, Chloë Sevigny and Calista Flockhart portray various socialites and friends of the writer in the anthology series.

Feud, Ryan Murphy’s historical anthology series, is finally back with season 2. After an almost seven-year gap, the FX drama returns with an all-new, star-studded installment called Capote vs. The Swans, with the focus on the falling out between notorious writer Truman Capote and several of his New York socialite friends, including Ann Woodward, Babe Paley, CZ Guest, Gloria Guinness, Joanne Carson and Slim Keith. 

"It’s such a great lineup of extraordinary women [and] great roles," Naomi Watts told ET about the series, in which she'll portray Paley. Rounding out the female cast is Calista Flockhart, Chloë Sevigny, Demi Moore, Diane Lane and Molly Ringwald, while Tom Hollander is tasked with embodying Truman Capote. 

"I mean, love and betrayal, the main themes, we've all been through that," Sevigny told ET at the series' premiere event. "Having someone you know that you trust then kind of turn their back on you and how heartbreaking that can be, be it a friend or a lover -- I think there's things that everybody can relate to."

Additionally, Chris Chalk, Joe Mantello, Bill Paley and Warren Beatty's daughter, Ella, have been added to the cast in key roles. 

The eight-part season will be adapted from Laurence Leamer’s Capote's Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era by showrunner Joan Robin Baitz and directed by Gus Van Sant with Murphy returning as executive producer. 

"Ryan's there all the time," Watts says while gushing over the creative team. 

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Leamer's book, meanwhile, details the complex relationships and scandals that surrounded Capote's then unfinished final novel, Answered Prayers, which was based on and would supposedly betray the socialites he affectionately referred to as "swans." It was purported to be Capote's "magnum opus" before an excerpt from the book, "La Côte Basque 1965," was published in a 1975 issue of Esquire, derailing his relationship with the women and the future of the book.

The full trailer for the series was released on Jan. 3, detailing the socialites' lavish lifestyles, and their fury at learning that Capote had mined their personal lives for scripted drama.

Given the success of season 1, Feud: Bette and Joan, which starred Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and recounted the notorious filming of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Capote vs. The Swans surely will have everyone talking. 

Naomi Watts as Babe Paley

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Watts plays Barbara Paley, who was largely known as "Babe." A former Vogue editor, she left her job after marrying CBS founder William S. Paley.

"It's fun," Watts told ET of transforming into her character. "I really only had pictures to go from -- there was no videos or audio recordings, so I really studied these pictures and looked at the way she moved. Where her hands were placed, how she did her hair, and they told a lot of story."

"Her focus and passion for fashion was always there," she added. "It's a lot of pressure though to have to look that good and that pristine all the time."

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For Watts, this series marks her latest reunion with Murphy after starring in the Netflix hit, The Watcher, which was renewed for a second season. She also portrayed journalist Gretchen Carlson in the limited series, The Loudest Voice

Paley was renowned for her sense of style, and was often featured on Best Dressed lists of her time. As a lifelong admirer, Capote was known to have said, "[Babe Paley] had only one fault. She was perfect. Otherwise, she was perfect."

Watts' onscreen husband is played by the late Treat Williams, who first broke out with 1979's Hair and became most popular for starring on Everwood and Blue Bloods

Unfortunately, Williams tragically died on June 12, 2023, following a motorcycle accident in Vermont, after filming what would become his final role.

"It's truly heartbreaking, because he had such gratitude for this role at this point in his life," Watts told ET at the series' premiere event in New York City in January 2024. "I mean, we all did because the writing is so delicious... but Treat was just-- He couldn't believe it. Every day he was like, 'Oh my god, these words!'"

"In between the scenes that we were making, he just talked endlessly about how happy he was and about his beautiful family and his dogs and living in Vermont," she shared. "It's really horrible that he won't get to see this and see us all celebrate his work."

Chloë Sevigny as CZ Guest

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Once featured on the cover of Time magazine, CZ Guest was regarded as a member of America’s high society. She was also known for her work as a stage actress, author and columnist, and garnered some fame as a fashion icon.

"We were all really excited," Sevigny told ET of filming the star-studded series. "We were thrilled to be working with each other, just surrounded by other powerful women, and the writing was so incredible."

"There was a lot of help, lot of wigs, makeup, our costume designer was very detail-oriented," she added. "She's worked with Ryan Murphy for years, and if there was a scene set in 1977 she would find a Givenchy gown from that collection, from that period -- she was very intent on making everything very correct, and it just felt good to give yourself over to someone who did such exhaustive research and was so invested in the show and in love with these women."

A Murphy fixture, Sevigny has previously appeared in two installments of American Horror Story. Since then, she's appeared on Russian Doll and starred in two true-crime limited series, The Act and The Girl From Plainville.

Calista Flockhart as Lee Radziwill

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Lee Radziwill was a socialite and public-relations executive, who was also the younger sister of first lady Jackie Kennedy. After marrying Prince Stanisław Albrecht Radziwiłł, she became a princess and had a son named Anthony, who eventually married journalist and future Real Housewives of New York City star Carole Radziwill.

The role, meanwhile, marks Flockhart's first major series since appearing as Cat Grant on Supergirl and starring on Brothers & Sisters on ABC. The actress told ET that her character transformation was of course aided by the show's amazing outfits.

"It was really easy because of our outstanding costume designer, Lou Eyrich," she shared. "She is amazing. Everything is vintage, she is just incredible. So it was easy for me, she did all the hard work."

And Flockhart said filming with her co-stars was "nothing short of amazing."

"I love everybody, we had so much fun," she raved. "We supported each other, we talked about everything. We just had a really good time."

Diane Lane as Slim Keith

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Nancy "Slim" Keith was a socialite known for her Hollywood connections, including discovering Lauren Bacall by showing her picture to producer and husband Howard Hawks. She unfriended Capote after he used her likeness for the unflattering character in Answered Prayers

"I knew it was going to be amazing because the material is riveting," Lane told ET. "It's timely, because betrayal is always timely."

"I got to cheat, because Slim had a book and it was an amazing book," she admitted. "It's her life story, [but] it's got a lot of omissions -- admittedly, she left a lot out... [She and Truman] were really good friends, and she knew not to trust him with her secrets."

Prior to teaming up with Murphy, Lane recently made a splash on TV with roles on House of Cards, Y: The Last Man and Extrapolations.

Demi Moore as Ann Woodward

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Ann Woodward was a prominent figure in New York high society thanks to her marriage to banking heir William Woodward Jr., and was later suspected of murder after she mistakenly shot and killed him in 1955. The incident was fictionalized in Capote’s novel, with him accusing her of intentionally murdering Woodward. Prior to the Esquire article being published, she committed suicide.  

Feud will mark Moore's rare turn on TV, following roles on Empire and the adaptation of Brave New World.

Molly Ringwald as Joanne Carson

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Joanne Carson was the second wife of Johnny Carson, and became friends with Capote after he started writing a book about the late-night TV host. The two become such good friends that he reportedly died in her arms before half of his ashes would come into her possession. 

"Everybody had to bring their A-game," Ringwald said of filming the series. "I mean, you know, there's some pretty fashionable ladies."

However, with most of her scenes taking place toward the end of Capote's life, the actress admitted that her character perhaps wasn't as posh as the rest of the "Swans."

"My stuff was not really the most glamorous," Ringwald shared. "They really wanted to have a contrast between the structure of New York -- I'm sort of more the bohemian, colorful West Coast."

And while she does reunite with fellow Brat Pack star Demi Moore in the series, Ringwald recalled the astonishing fact that the two had never actually starred in anything together until Feud.

"It's funny because Demi and I never did anything together, we never worked together," she said. "We didn't even know each other, really. So that was really nice to get to know her on this."

Since starring on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Ringwald has become a welcome fixture on TV, with additional roles on RiverdaleTales of the City and Murphy's true-crime saga, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.

Tom Hollander as Truman Capote

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Truman Capote was an esteemed novelist and writer, who gained notoriety for his work on Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood. As his popularity grew, so did his celebrity status, which was cemented by his high society and Hollywood friends, many of which included the women he would later draw inspiration from for his anticipated follow-up to In Cold Blood.

The book, which was published posthumously in 1986, was described as a "sordid tale" that chronicled the exploits of that era's many prominent socialites who would rather have their unflattering stories remain secret. 

Hollander's turn as the author follows his biggest hit to date, season 2 of The White Lotus, which saw him teaming up with creator Mike White. The longtime English film actor is also known for appearing opposite Tom Hiddleston on The Night Manager

Capote's partner, John Dunphy, will be played by actor-director and recent Murphy fixture, Joe Mantello, marking the third significant onscreen portrayal of the playwright following Bruce Greenwood in Capote and John Benjamin Hickey in Infamous.

Chris Chalk as James Baldwin

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James Baldwin is a celebrated novelist, poet and activist, coming into his own during the civil rights and gay liberation movements. During his writing career, he had encounters with Capote, who often recounted their run-ins as one-off anecdotes at parties. The extent of their relationship, however, is not fully known.  

Currently playing Paul Drake on HBO's remake of Perry Mason, Chalk is also famous for roles in When They See Us, Underground and The Newsroom.

While speaking with Deadline about his portrayal of Baldwin, Chalk said he's "always wanted to play him," adding that being on set has been “such a supportive environment, like mind-blowingly supportive." That said, he's already filmed a lot of material. "We shot 20 pages in two days,"  the actor revealed. "I got the script and was like, 'That’s a lot of words.' I had a little mini panic attack… but it was amazing. Then there was a five-page monologue."