Kathy Bates = Bette Davis?

In terms of playing parts which require that certain “strange-weirdness”, I mean?

I can’t think of another modern actress who possesses those attributes.

Crawford had it, Davis had it, and in Sunset Boulevard, Gloria Swanson had it.

But I can’t think of another modern actress who can bring that type of personality to a film other than Bates.




Christina Ricci always struck me as kinda weird.

I have to admit, equating Bates and Davis strikes me as weirdest of all.

Not sure I understand the last sentence, Bryan? Do you mean in terms of talent, or that I should not have drawn a comparison in the first place?



It’s just such an unlikely pairing, in any context. I can sort-of see them playing similar characters in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Misery (though these reflect Davis past the peak of her career and while Bates was at the beginning), but I dunno about Bette getting full-frontal naked for a hot-tub scene with Trevor Howard.

Of course, it doesn’t help that the criterion is the undefined “strange-wierdness”.

Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Yeah, I know: bad choice of words. :slight_smile: The original title of the thread was “Kathy Bates=Vincent Price?” if that helps to define it a bit further. The reason I changed it was because of the sexes, but the meaning I was trying to convey is the same, and you touched on it with your mention of Christina Ricci: it’s that “blankness” which makes one realize that this person isn’t “normal” as one watches the plot unfold.

And no, Bette would not have done a nudity scene with Trevor Howard, but then you have to consider that all things are relative.

But the main point of the thread was to ask if you thought Kathy Bates could be a modern-day Bette Davis/Joan Crawford given the films in which she played those “weird-strange” parts, and if not, then who (if anyone) comes closer?

Sorry if I was vague.



Joan Crawford and Bette Davis were both sexy leading ladies first, then in their later years move into strange/weird territory. So for a modern equivalent, I don’t know, maybe Kathleen Turner or Meg Ryan. Angelina Jolie has some strangeness/weirdness potential if her looks start to go a bit.

Bette Davis never was a sexy leading lady. She played some romantic leads, and a couple of femme-fatale-ish parts – but no bones were ever made about the fact that she was an odd-looking woman.

I had the pleasure of seeing Kathy Bates’ work before she hit the big time, when she was with Actors Theater of Louisville. We used to go the Humana Festival of New American Plays every year.

She excelled at the creepy even then. I remember a play entitled “Rain of Terror” in which, padded and in “disgusting teeth” makeup, she played an enormously obese, talkative trailer-trash woman with the stereotypical skinny, silent husband.

The entire play consisted of the two characters sitting on a ratty sofa, and Bates’ character (who smoked the whole time with an ashtray balanced on top of her bulging gut) relating in a virtual monologue the story of the night a convict escaped from a nearby prison and how a stranger showed up at the trailer and asked to use the phone because his car broke down. She assumes he’s the convict and that he plans to rape her, so she and her husband end up killing the guy and burying him under the trailer…only to find out later he was just a guy with a broken down car.

It was a great piece of character work.

She did pose nude for that statue, though, so she may not have had the sort of qualms about being nude on-screen as one might think. The times dictated that it would never happen but if the part absolutely demanded it I think Davis would have exposed some skin for her craft.

How about Glenn Close?

Yeah, I always kinda wondered about the song Bette Davis Eyes. She just never did it for me.

But “Bette Davis Eyes” wasn’t about the subject being sexy. It was about her being mysterious and exotic.

When I saw the thread title I thought that Kathy Bates was going to be playing Bette Davis in a movie about her life, and after a second I thought “That could work.” So yeah, I see it. I can see Bates playing the roles that Davis played later, Baby Jane and Charlotte especially.

During the 80’s, a strange/weird, somewhat middle-aged, female character meant getting Anne Ramsey.

I love her! I like to think that she was all “Man, I am ugly. How can I make money off of this?” and thus began her acting career.

Shamlessness and capitalism rock!