Chris Chalk will play James Baldwin in Capote’s Women.

Literature
Dan Sheehan

March 28, 2023, 12:42pm

First, there was Helen Mirren as Regal Patricia Highsmith. Then came Oscar Isaac as Sexy Kurt Vonnegut. Now, get ready for Chris Chalk as Super Intense James Baldwin.

Yes, continuing the recent trend of casting Hollywood and prestige TV stars as iconic mid-century writers, Chalk (Perry Mason, Underground, Gotham) is set to play Baldwin in latest installment of Ryan Murphy’s Feud series—Feud: Capote’s Women.

Capote’s Women is based on Laurence Leamer’s bestselling 2021 nonfiction account of Truman Capote’s friendship with a group of society women he called his “swans.” Capote ultimately used these women’s lives for a thinly-veiled expose he wrote for Esquire in 1975, “La Côte Basque 1965” (itself an excerpt from his infamous unfinished novel, Unanswered Prayers)—a betrayal that led to his banishment from high society. Capote will be played by diminutive-but-acerbic Brit Tom Hollander (who, fun fact, has previously played Dylan Thomas, Wilkie Collins, and T. S. Elliot).

Despite his fame, mellifluous voice, and legendary oratorical prowess, it’s not often we see James Baldwin portrayed on screen (in fact, Jeffrey Wright’s amalgamation of Baldwin and A. J. Liebling in The French Dispatch is the only one I can remember), so this is exciting news.

The never-subtle Ryan Murphy is not the first person I would tap for the job, but Chalk, a longtime admirer of the Baldwin, seemed energized by experience of filming, telling Deadline that the role included a five-page monologue, so we have that to look forward to when the miniseries is released next year.

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