The late actor, who died in a motorcycle accident in June 2023, makes his final on-screen appearance in the FX show's latest installment
The latest project from the prolific mind of Ryan Murphy, Feud: Capote vs. The Swans, was celebrated at its New York City premiere on Tuesday night. But there was someone missing from the festivities — and the man of the hour made sure to recognize that.
Treat Williams stars as media tycoon Bill Paley, Naomi Watts’ character’s husband, in the upcoming installment of the FX docudrama, which is based on author Laurence Leamer’s bestselling book Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era. The show marks his final on-screen appearance and comes seven months after his sudden death in a motorcycle accident last June. He was 71.
Ahead of the screening during Tuesday’s premiere at the Museum of Modern Art, series producer Murphy, 58, made a speech acknowledging the heavy hearts in the room given Williams’ absence. The late actor’s wife, Pamela, and their two daughters, Gill and Ellie, were in attendance.
Murphy had the family stand up as he dedicated the season to Williams and the crowd applauded them in his honor. He also shared the last words Williams said to him while previously celebrating the show’s culmination with a big group dinner after they’d wrapped filming.
“The last thing he said to me was he grabbed my face and said, 'I loved every minute,’” he recalled.
Earlier this month, the late actor's wife opened up to PEOPLE about his last on-screen role, which also ranked among his favorite.
Williams "couldn't have been happier" about working on Feud, Pam said. "He was truly in his element working with the best of the best in every department on this project."
The prospect of watching him onscreen for the last time, though, was something she admittedly wasn't ready for. "I haven't given it much thought, but it's a horrible thought to think I'll be watching his last project — not a comfortable place to be or think about — but of course we'll be there to support him as always," she said.
Pam added of his death, "It still feels like yesterday on most levels."
While the Hair star was missed at Tuesday’s star-studded premiere, many other cast members were in attendance to celebrate the upcoming debut, including the “Swans” themselves: Demi Moore, Calista Flockhart, Molly Ringwald, Chloë Sevigny, Diane Lane and Watts.
The powerhouse cast portrays an elite echelon of glamorous, wealthy women in 1970s New York who find their social lives exposed and exploded as their so-called friend, Truman Capote (Tom Hollander), publishes an exposé on their private lives.
The anthology series' follow-up season shows the rise and fall of the acclaimed In Cold Blood author as he “ingratiates” himself into the socialites’ lives, “befriending them and becoming their confidante, only to ultimately betray them by writing a thinly veiled fictionalization of their lives, exposing their most intimate secrets," according to a show synopsis.
Among the salacious details he included in the exposé is an allegation that Ann Woodward (Moore) — who seems ever-ready to be on the inside of the swans' tight circle — killed her husband, earning her the nickname "Bang Bang."
Watt’s Babe Paley is the first to divulge some of the group’s secrets, though, as she tells him in the trailer, “Even your sister will steal your man,” and also shares a secret about the then-governor’s wife, whom Capote calls “fat-ankled” and “hairy.”
In the end, Capote’s betrayal and banishment from the glamorous world he’d entered into sends him “into a spiral of self-destruction from which he would ultimately never recover,” according to the synopsis.
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The first two episodes of Feud: Capote vs. The Swans premiere Jan. 31 at 10 p.m. ET on FX.
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