‘Feud’ Star Diane Lane Channeled Her ‘Mother’s Strength’ to Play Slim

In the final moments of “Feud: Capote vs. the Swans,” Tom Hollander’s Truman Capote is dying. His last words are “Beautiful Babe,” referencing his Swan Babe Paley, played by Naomi Watts. The season finale is aptly titled “Phantasm Forgiveness,” a dreamscape episode that hops between the past, present and future.

In an imagined scenario, Capote continues drafting his book “Answered Prayers” and imagines his character P.B Jones apologizing and making amends as he seeks forgiveness. In the show, Capote betrays his close circle of New York’s high society circle of powerful women known as the Swans by publishing a story titled “La Côte Basque, 1965” in Esquire and revealing their secrets. The Swans include Babe, C.Z. Guest (Chloë Sevigny) and Slim Keith (Diane Lane).

Speaking at Variety’s TV FYC Fest, executive producer and writer Jon Robin Baitz explained his approach to that final episode. “The women were rounder and smarter and had more soul. In a way, he was giving those women an opportunity to redeem him.” He continued, “I tried to think of them as generous women in that episode … Forgiveness is easier at a certain point in your life.”

Baitz was joined by Lane and costume designer and producer Lou Eyrich. Eyrich, who is Ryan Murphy’s go-to costume designer, had never worked in this era of New York society — the 1950s and 1960s — until this show. Speaking about her collaboration with Lane, Eyrich said, “We talk about the scene, and we think, ‘Okay, where is she emotionally right now? Intellectually? How is it going to look on camera?’”

When it came to Lady Ina’s (Slim) moment with Capote in the finale, the two discussed the idea of forgiveness versus anger. “We didn’t use much red in the show. The color palette was pretty much creams and pale pinks,” Eyrich explained.

However, when it came to dressing Slim, Eyrich wanted her silhouette to reflect the boldness, honesty and smartness of the character. When the audience first meets Slim at Le Cote Basque, she’s wearing a custom-made green dress. Cropped blazers, high-waisted pants, structured shoulders and a tailored look defined Slim’s wardrobe. Slim makes no secret of being outraged at Capote and his betrayal. And when she wasn’t voicing her opinion, she was a fashion icon, often appearing on many best-dressed lists. Said Eyrich, “We gave her the most color as a strong sense of character. Red was the anger at Truman. We felt it was appropriate for that scene, both the anger and then the breaking down on the forgiveness.”

Lane explained her way into the character was through costume. “It’s one of the first things that we do when we convene to create a character,” she said. “I realized working with [director] Gus Van Sant, and this was our first moment of putting the character on screen and I felt so confident.”

Lane continued, “My job was to just not screw it up … everybody had brought their game.”

She also expressed her concerns about portraying Slim and what she would have said to the real-life socialite, who today would be 107 years old. “I was always a little bit concerned that maybe Slim was going to be angry. I wanted to tell her, ‘I didn’t write it,’” Lane said of Slim’s determination to oust Capote from the world he controls. “We’re casting aspersions about people … I was a little bit torn through the territory that we had to go through.”

Lane looked to her family and the strength of the women she had seen to further process Slim — in particular, her mother.

“I channeled a lot of my mother’s strength to be able to pull off what was asked of me in this writing, because it was tough stuff,” she revealed.

A highlight for Eyrich was the Thanksgiving scenes. One holiday is hosted by C.Z. in Florida with the Swans. Back in Malibu, Joanne Carson (Molly Ringwald) is also hosting a party. Eyrich said, “I loved how we got to show the two different classes and how Gus also shot it with the music, the lighting and the women coming down those stairs.”

It also heralded a shift in society, as the glam world of dressing up, hats and gloves was disappearing. “In was coming Studio 54 and punk rock. Dressing was no longer that elegant,” Eyrich said.

Watch the panel discussion above.

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