Susan Sarandon took to Twitter last weekend to quash an old rumor that she’d already debunked nearly two decades ago. When she costarred with Julia Roberts in the weepy 1998 drama ‘‘Stepmom,’’ there was chatter that the two women hated each other. So ahead of the movie’s release, the actresses addressed the rumors in Entertainment Weekly.
Roberts was especially colorful about the gossip, saying she wished there was ‘‘something new’’ coming out of the rumor mill, rather than the same old lies.
‘‘Actually, Susan and I were kinda hoping that people would say we were [having sex],’’ Roberts said at the time. ‘‘Now that’s delicious cocktail-party fodder. But this? Boring.’’
Now Sarandon is revisiting the rumors because they echo her FX series ‘‘Feud.’’ In the show, she plays Bette Davis to Jessica Lange’s Joan Crawford. The story takes place during the contentious filming of 1962’s ‘‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’’ The actresses didn’t hide their antipathy for one another, but Ryan Murphy’s series shows that the people around them fueled the animosity, trying to gin up controversy to get moviegoers to buy tickets. It worked.
According to Sarandon, her allegedly sour relationship with Roberts came from a similar place.
‘‘Found out it was my PR person creating rumors,’’ Sarandon tweeted.
Some publicists are only bolstering the stereotypes about how women work together. Sarandon also mentioned that the No. 1 question she gets from the media is whether she and Lange get along, which is pretty shocking. Do journalists really think that female co-stars are inclined to fight?
Apparently. That sounds a lot like a recent interview with Jessica Chastain, who had a similar grievance. When she was filming ‘‘The Help,’’ she told Vanity Fair, ‘‘so many of the questions I was getting from the press [were] about fighting on set — ‘Was it tough to be on set with all those girls?’”
The movie featured a largely female ensemble, including seasoned pros Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Allison Janney. Chastain had never gotten questions about on-set infighting with other films she’d been in, because all of her other movies had a more even distribution of male and female performers.
If women cat-fighting on set sells tickets, it apparently doesn’t work that way with men and women. Compare the ‘‘Stepmom’’ scenario to the one playing out around the drama ‘‘Gifted,’’ which stars former flames Jenny Slate and Chris Evans. Both stars have gone out of their way to gush about each other in the media. In an unusually revealing profile in New York Magazine, Slate said of her ex, ‘‘He has beautiful, big, strong emotions, and he’s really sure of them. It’s just wonderful to be around. His heart is probably golden-colored, if you could paint it.’’ For his part, Evans told People Slate was his ‘‘favorite human.’’
The stars are strenuously trying to prove there’s no bad blood between them — and who would doubt them? But if they were both women, could they get away with that so easily?
With male costars, the media tends to play up the bromance to a ridiculous degree. It would have been hard to miss the gushing that took place between Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal ahead of the release of ‘‘Life’’ last month. Bounding from ‘‘The Tonight Show’’ to ‘‘Good Morning America,’’ they talked about everything from how they couldn’t stop cracking up while filming to whether Gyllenhaal is a better cook than Reynolds’s wife, Blake Lively.
Here’s Reynolds on Gyllenhaal: ‘‘Jake — I am going to talk about him as if he were not here — is one of the most interesting actors working in this crazy business right now.’’
And Gyllenhaal on Reynolds: ‘‘I just thought, ‘What a genuinely good man.’ He is good to other people; he is such a good dad; he is such a good husband. And he is one of the funniest and, honestly, one of the smartest actors that I’ve ever worked with.’’
‘So many of the questions I was getting from the press [were] about fighting on set — “Was it tough to be on set with all those girls?” ’
Sarandon, meanwhile, would like everyone to know that she and Lange are more than just cordial.
‘‘Jess & I not only got along great during filming, we’re now dating,’’ she joked in a tweet before quickly following up, ‘‘. . . I mean, staying in touch. She’s one of the reasons I agreed to do the series. Working with brilliant actors only makes you better.’’