If you tuned in for this week’s Feud you were met with a surprise in the episode’s opening minutes.
The “Pope of Trash” himself, John Waters, made a cameo as legendary filmmaker William Castle in the installment titled “Hagsploitation.” Castle directed Joan Crawford in the 1964 horror B-movie, Straight-Jacket.
Waters is a Castle superfan, even writing the introduction to the 1992 re-issue of Castle’s autobiography, Step Right Up!: I’m Gonna Scare the Pants off America, so it made sense to the episode’s director and co-writer, Tim Minear, to cast the Pink Flamingos filmmaker as one of his icons.
“I wrote the scene, and we were sitting around going, who would be a great cameo to play William Castle? In part of my research of William Castle I kept finding John Waters talking about William Castle,” Minear told The A.V. Club.
“What I discovered was [that] John had actually been in the audience of one of the screenings of that tour, where Castle took Crawford around for Strait-Jacket. So he saw it in real life. It did seem to me that John Waters—who is an icon in his own right—would bring something special to playing another icon for whom he had big affection, and who he has often said inspired him to become a film director. So it just seemed like the only thing to do.”
When asked about Waters’ time on the set Minear added: “He was just super gracious, and he was there to play.”
The scene in Feud centers around Castle and his notorious gimmicks. This time he has Crawford (Jessica Lange), his Straight-Jacket star, surprise a preview audience of the film by coming into the theater with an axe and swinging it at the audience members. She eventually makes her way to the stage where she “decapitates” Castle, only to have the pair come back onstage and introduce the film together.
Waters didn’t need much convincing to step in front of the camera to play the gimmick-obsessed director of horror films like House on Haunted Hill and The Tingler.
“It wasn’t hard to talk to me into it,” Waters told The Baltimore Sun. “I was thrilled to do it.” He was more excited to share screen time with Feud co-star Lange who was made up in her full Crawford look.
“It was so weird,” he added. “Spending the day with Joan Crawford.”
Maybe he can cast Lange in his next movie?