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Capote vs. The Swans Director Breaks Down Babe Paley Death Scene

Capote vs. The Swans Director Breaks Down Babe Paley Death Scene

The penultimate episode of Feud: Capote vs. The Swans sees Babe Paley, the New York high-society socialite played by Naomi Watts, succumb to cancer and take her dying breath on her bed, estranged from friend Truman Capote (Tom Hollander). The shot of Paley’s death is a rare moment of inertness for the show, a deliberate decision from episode seven’s (titled “Beautiful Babe”) director Jennifer Lynch.

“It’s such a pivotal moment in the show,” she says. “There was so much in the series that had movement, elegance, a flair and a pace. What I really wanted to capture in Babe dying was the stillness, that the only thing moving in that room was her breath and that she was tiny in that large bed.”

Lynch insisted the camera remain still: “There was some pushback. The DP was concerned. And I said, ‘This is not about releasing the audience into a drifting away into heaven. This is a static, horrifying, sad moment.’ ” The position of the mourners at her bedside — her children in chairs opposite the foot of the bed and husband Bill Paley (Treat Williams) seated at her side — was also a calculated choreography: “The staging tells me about her family and about the distance between them all.”

The fragile moment was captured under a time crunch — Lynch recalls the crew had “less than 90 minutes to set up all of it.” A saturated blue palette is a nod to “the dance between worlds, the living and the dead.”

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This story first appeared in a June standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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