Being one of Truman Capote’s Swans may have looked glamorous from the outside, but underneath the shiny exterior of high society life, all was not what it seemed.
Perhaps none were more troubled than Ann Woodward, a former showgirl who shot and killed her husband in 1955. She told the police that she presumed her husband was a burglar, and the shooting was ruled accidental by a grand jury. That wasn’t enough to stop rumors from swirling about the circumstances of her husband’s death, including gossip that came from Capote himself.
“In truth, I didn’t really know anything about Ann going into this outside of just this very kind of externalized idea of Truman having written about this woman,” Demi Moore, who plays Woodward in FX‘s Feud: Capote vs. The Swans, told Deadline. “Until I really started to dive in, I didn’t know anything about her.
Woodward killed herself before Capote published an excerpt of his unfinished expose in Esquire, airing out the Swans dirty laundry and suggesting the Woodward had murdered her husband for having an affair. To this day, the rumors persist about whether the shooting was accidental, as well as whether Woodward took her life because she knew Capote’s thinly veiled tell-all was about to become public.
When asked whether she had to make any assumptions about Woodward in order to play her, Moore said she chose to tread lightly because of “a real responsibility, when you’re playing a real person, because while they may no longer be alive, there are still family members.”
“I think it’s important that you make strong choices,” she said. “I felt it was really important to explore and get to what I felt was the truth, and it seems, from what I researched, that the truth is it was accidental.”
Capote’s betrayal was far from the only tragedy in Woodward’s life. As Moore puts it: “I also think that Ann was a woman who really married into this world and was never accepted — never accepted by her family, never accepted by the other women. She was always on the periphery.”
Woodward eventually became “the object of Truman’s dinner party fodder,” which Moore described as “careless disregard for the impact on her as a person…”
Her suicide wasn’t “just about the article,” Moore added. “I think it was the accumulation of a whole life that never achieved that acceptance, that it was kind of the nail in the coffin. It was a very tragic life. I mean, she was an alcoholic. She was not healthy emotionally. And by extension, I mean, it was a very tragic family.”
Watch a vide of her interview with Deadline below.