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Ryan Murphy talks ageism in Hollywood

The showrunner says he’s doing his best to change the way the industry treats older actresses

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FX

Ryan Murphy is a huge fan of stars and pop culture, which makes him an incredible salesman when it comes to casting big-name talent in projects (Lady Gaga, Kate Hudson, John Travolta, and Gwyneth Paltrow).

“I am interested in being a showman and I am interested in show business,” he admits to EW. “I love a star. I love a twinkly. I love being with them. The first time I met Jessica Lange I couldn’t believe it.”

But he also has a fondness for casting actors who have been underutilized by the industry and giving them juicy, career-reviving roles. “I feel like it’s ridiculous that women over 40 aren’t working,” he says. “It’s ridiculous. So I just am doing a show about that now, Feud.”

Feud, which premieres on FX in 2017, is the story of the rivalry between Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) on the set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

To read more on Ryan Murphy and the new season of American Horror Story, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, or buy it here now — and subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW. 

“I’ve got eight women in that show over 40,” Murphy says of his cast, which includes Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sarah Paulson, and Judy Davis. “They’re all amazing and they’re always just so stunned that somebody cares about them, which is the thing that I find the most moving. They’re like, ‘Really? You’re interested in me?’ And they always say that to me. Kathy Bates, Jessica, on and on and on. And I am, I’m interested in them.”

Adds AHS collaborator Bates: “He has an appreciation for what I think of as aged wine. I’m getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and it would never have happened if Ryan hadn’t brought me onto American Horror Story. He kicked my third act off with a bang.” 

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