Faye Dunaway regrets playing Joan Crawford in 'Mommie Dearest': 'I should have known better'

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Faye Dunaway Regrets Playing Joan Crawford in 'Mommie Dearest'


Even legends have their regrets.

Faye Dunaway reflects on her life in the spotlight, aging in Hollywood and why she wishes she hadn't taken on the role of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest in a rare interview with People.

READ: 13 Movie Moms That Will Make You Grateful For Your Own

The 75-year-old actress landed her first big screen role in the 1967 film The Happening, before shooting to stardom after starring opposite Warren Beatty in Bonnie & Clyde, which was released a few months later that same year.

"When I was discovered, everything happened like Dominoes," recalls Dunaway. "I don't know how to talk about it now because it's mind blowing. It's so unreal yet it's real. I'm grateful for it but I guess part of that is missing it — when one grows older."

Dunaway is perhaps best known for portraying actress Joan Crawford in 1981's Mommie Dearest. The cult classic was based off the 1978 autobiography written by Joan Crawford's adopted daughter, Christina.

Despite becoming one of Dunaway's most memorable characters, the Oscar winner looks back at the role with regret.

"I think it turned my career in a direction where people would irretrievably have the wrong impression of me -- and that's an awful hard thing to beat," says Dunaway. "I should have known better, but sometimes you're vulnerable and you don't realize what you're getting into."

PHOTOS: Faye Dunaway in 'Mommie Dearest'

20 PHOTOS
Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest
See Gallery
Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest
Actress Faye Dunaway and Diana Scarwid on the set of Paramount Pictures movie ' Mommie Dearest' in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Actress Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in the Paramount Pictures movie ' Mommie Dearest' in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Actress Faye Dunaway with Mara Hobel and actor Steve Forrest on the set of Paramount Pictures movie ' Mommie Dearest' in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Actress Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford on the set of Paramount Pictures movie ' Mommie Dearest' in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Actress Faye Dunaway and Howard Da Silva on the set of Paramount Pictures movie ' Mommie Dearest' in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Actress Faye Dunaway and Diana Scarwid on the set of Paramount Pictures movie ' Mommie Dearest' in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Actress Faye Dunaway and Diana Scarwid and Director Frank Perry on the set of Paramount Pictures movie ' Mommie Dearest' in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Actress Faye Dunaway and Mara Hobel on the set of Paramount Pictures movie ' Mommie Dearest' in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Actress Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford on the set of Paramount Pictures movie ' Mommie Dearest' in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 9 -- Pictured: (l-r) Gilda Radner as Christina Crawford and Jane Curtin as Joan Crawford during the 'Mommie Dearest' skit on December 16, 1978 -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
Faye Dunaway playing Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest.
(Original Caption) Faye Dunaway stars as actress Joan Crawford in the motion picture based on the book written by Christina Crawford, Mommie Dearest, to make its network television debut as a special movie presentation, Saturday, November 19 (8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., ET) on the CBS Television Network.
Actress Faye Dunaway and Mara Hobel on the set of Paramount Pictures movie ' Mommie Dearest' in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
1939: EXCLUSIVE American actor Joan Crawford (1904 - 1977) lays on a lounge chair with her dauschund. Note that her freckles are visible in this unretouched image. (Photo by Gene Lester/Getty Images)
Actress Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford on the set of Paramount Pictures movie ' Mommie Dearest' in 1981. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
June 1944: EXCLUSIVE American actor Joan Crawford sits and holds hands with her adopted daughter Christina at their home. They wear matching velvet jumpers and flowers in their hair. Christina later wrote a tell-all book entitled, 'Mommie Dearest,' about her unhappy childhood. (Photo by Gene Lester/Getty Images)
June 1944: EXCLUSIVE American actor Joan Crawford and her adopted daughter Christina posing at home in front of their fireplace and a painted portrait of Crawford. They wear matching ruffled dresses, with flowers in their hair. Christina later wrote a tell-all book entitled, 'Mommie Dearest,' describing her unhappy childhood. (Photo by Gene Lester/Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 9 -- Pictured: (l-r) Gilda Radner as Christina Crawford, Dan aykroyd as Clark Gable, Jane Curtin as Joan Crawford, and Laraine Newman as Katharine Hepburn during the 'Mommie Dearest' skit on December 16, 1978 -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 9 -- Pictured: (l-r) Dan Aykroyd as Clark Gable, Laraine Newman was Katharine Hepburn, Jane Curtin as Joan Crawford, Bill Murray as Cary Grant, and Elliott Gould as Archer Armstrong during the 'Mommie Dearest' skit on December 16, 1978 -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

MORE: Stars Takes On Real-Life Roles

The film, chronicling Crawford's abusive relationship with her adopted daughter, was panned by critics but went on to gross $39 million at the box office.

Still, Dunaway doesn't understand why the movie was even made.

"It's unfortunate they feel they had make this kind of movie," adds the screen icon. "But you can't be ashamed of the work you've done. You make a decision, and then you have to live with the consequences."

Dunaway is enjoying a quieter life these days, though she hasn't retired from acting. The Florida native, who appears in the upcoming horror flick, Bye Bye Man, shared her admiration for friends like Jane Fonda. At 78, Fonda has etched out a new space for older actresses thanks to the Netflix series Grace & Frankie. "It's not age that makes life," says Dunaway. "It's what you do with it."

Watch the video below for Fonda's thoughts on Hollywood's "women of a certain age" label.

Jane Fonda Admits She Once Believed She Deserved to Make Less Than Men


Read Full Story

From Our Partners