Not just any court, but the Supreme Court, with the “Gone With the Wind” star refusing to back down after her defamation suit against her portrayal in the FX series “Feud” was shot down by a judge.
In June 2017, de Havilland sued over the way she was depicted in FX’s “Feud: Bette & Joan” (in which she was portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jone), with her defamation suit alleging her character was maligned.
The judge who heard the case threw the lawsuit out of court. “Whether a person portrayed in one of these expressive works is a world-renowned film star — ‘a living legend’ — or a person no one knows, she or he does not own history,” Justice Anne Egerton wrote in the ruling, “nor does she or he have the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove, or veto the creator’s portrayal of actual people.”
At the time, “Feud” exec producer Ryan Murphy issued a statement declaring the decision was “a victory for the creative community, and the First Amendment,” noting that the ruling “gives all creators the breathing room necessary to continue to tell important historical stories inspired by true events. Most of all, it’s a great day for artistic expression and a reminder of how precious our freedom remains.”
However, de Havilland is hoping the Supreme Court will weigh in on the case, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
It’s not a given that the justices will opt to move forward; if the Supreme Court does decide to hear the case and de Havilland prevails, notes THR, this could have a chilling effect on fact-based docudramas.
Source: ET Canada/Brent Furdyk