Jessica Lange is an acclaimed American actress known for her work in films like Tootsie, Blue Sky, and TV shows like American Horror Story. However, despite her success, Lange has also garnered a fair share of criticism and backlash over the years. Here’s an in-depth look at some of the reasons why people hate Jessica Lange.
Bold Personality and Outspoken Nature
One of the main reasons why Lange has critics is her bold personality and outspoken nature. She has never been afraid to speak her mind and share controversial opinions. For example:
- In 2009, she made comments criticizing comparator studies of digitally altered photos of actresses. This sparked backlash from those who felt she was diminishing a serious issue.
- She has been open about criticizing Hollywood for ageism and sexism against older actresses. Some felt her remarks were ungrateful given her own career success.
- She has advocated for causes like arts education that some find frivolous or elitist.
While many find her candor refreshing, her unfiltered commentary has also garnered backlash from those who disagree with her stances. Her strong personality can come off as abrasive or arrogant to critics.
Selectivity Over Roles
Another source of criticism is Lange’s selectivity over roles at the height of her fame. After successes like Tootsie and Frances, Lange began heavily scrutinizing scripts and only chose roles she was passionate about.
For instance, she turned down high-profile parts in films like Thelma & Louise, Misery, and Basic Instinct. While admirers found this choosy approach admirable, detractors felt she passed up opportunities that could have kept her more popular with mainstream audiences.
Some believe her being more selective caused her to fade from the public spotlight earlier than similarly famous actresses who took on more commercial projects.
Accusations of Being Difficult On Set
Lange has faced accusations of being challenging or difficult to work with on sets. Rumors have circulated about:
- Demanding script rewrites to expand her character’s role
- Feuding with other cast members
- Regular on-set meltdowns and tantrums
Critics paint her as egotistical and entitled rather than a collaborative performer. However, people who have worked with Lange often defend her professionalism and commitment to the craft.
While some diva-like behavior may be exaggerated, Lange clearly prioritizes artistic integrity over people-pleasing. This rubs some collaborators the wrong way.
Personal Life and Relationships
Lange’s personal relationships have also sparked some public disapproval over the years.
- In 1976, she began a long-term relationship with ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov while he was still married to his first wife. This fueled perceptions of Lange as a “homewrecker.”
- She had a series of high-profile relationships with celebrities like author Franz Xaver Kroetz and playwright Sam Shepard. Some saw her love life as turbulent or messy.
- There was a 16-year age gap between Lange and Shepard. While not scandalous, some saw the age difference as problematic.
- She had multiple complexes, public breakups which led to a reputation as emotionally turbulent.
While gossip around her personal life has faded, it contributed to negative perceptions in Lange’s youth. Her willingness to buck tradition also did not sit well with some.
Ageism Lawsuit Against FX and Ryan Murphy
One of the most recent sources of controversy was an ageism lawsuit Lange filed in 2021 against FX and Ryan Murphy Productions.
Lange claimed that she was pressured to resign from American Horror Story based on her advancing age. The lawsuit alleged:
- Murphy routinely criticized Lange’s looks, pitting her against younger actresses
- Lange was denied hair and makeup staff accorded to younger performers
- Writing off Lange’s character was retaliation for her complaints about ageist treatment
The lawsuit brought age bias in Hollywood back into the spotlight. However, some saw Lange as biting the hand that fed her given the success AHS revived her career.
While the case was eventually settled out of court, it soured some fans on Lange. They felt she betrayed Murphy despite the opportunities his shows had afforded her.
Acting Style and Presence
Finally, Lange’s distinctive acting style and on-screen presence simply does not appeal to some viewers. Critics characterize her style as:
- Dour or brooding
While most praise her commitment to fully inhabiting emotional, complex characters, others find her acting overblown or self-indulgent.
Her downtrodden on-screen presence in films like Frances also rubs some the wrong way. To them, she comes off as a depressing, theatrical performer rather than a relatable one.
These stylistic preferences are highly subjective. But for a small subset of critics, Lange’s acting itself is simply annoying or unappealing.
Common Defenses of Jessica Lange
Despite the criticisms, Lange remains a respected performer with devoted fans who defend her against detractors. Some common defenses of the actress include:
One of Hollywood’s All-Time Greats
Lange’s fans argue whatever her flaws, her immense talent and career achievements make her an undeniable Hollywood great. With Oscars, Golden Globes, and Emmys under her belt, she has the accolades to back up her reputation.
Even critics concede films like Tootsie and Blue Sky showcase Lange at the peak of her powers. When focused, fans argue Lange delivers nuanced, affecting performances few actors can match.
Broke Barriers for Older Actresses
Lange’s willingness to speak out against ageism expanded roles for older women in Hollywood. Rather than quietly retiring, Lange continued taking on provocative, complex lead roles well into her 60s and 70s via American Horror Story.
Along with contemporaries like Meryl Streep, Lange helped prove that mature actresses could carry films and TV shows previously reserved for ingénues. While not universal, more opportunities for older actresses emerged in Lange’s wake.
Prioritized Artistic Quality Over Fame
Lange’s champions argue her selectivity and strong opinions stemmed from artistic integrity, not vanity. She turned down easy commercial projects in favor of chasing challenging roles to flex her acting muscles.
Rather than compromise her beliefs to boost her celebrity, Lange stayed true to her own muse. For creatively driven actors, this commitment to craft over career earns immense respect.
Complex Personal Life Reflects Human Struggles
Others defend Lange’s messy off-screen personal life as simply reflecting universal human struggles. Her failed relationships and emotional ups and downs mirror what many experience privately.
Rather than a tabloid scandal, Lange’s romantic trials represent the realities of love and life’s inherent messiness. For sympathetic fans, airing one’s flaws so publicly takes courage that should build empathy rather than scorn.
Common Jessica Lange Misconceptions
Despite her divisiveness, certain misconceptions about Lange persist that her defenders argue are unfair or untrue:
Not Difficult On Set
While Lange has strong opinions, the popular image of her as a nightmare diva is overblown according to most collaborators.
Actors like Drew Barrymore and Sarah Paulson report having fantastic experiences working with Lange. She is driven and serious about her craft, but most describe her as kind, warm and encouraging towards cast mates.
Acting Range is More Diverse Than Given Credit For
Detractors dismiss Lange’s style as heavy and melodramatic. But fans highlight diverse performances demonstrating huge emotional range:
- Nuanced comedy in Tootsie
- Bubbly romantic charm in Sweet Dreams
- Manic energy in Frances
- Quiet despair in Blue Sky
While she tackles dark themes, Lange has proven wider acting range than stereotyped one-note intensity.
Not Disappeared From Acting Entirely
Some paint Lange’s acting career as ending abruptly with her departure from American Horror Story. However, while less prolific, she continues taking on select film roles in retirement including 2018’s The Politician.
Rather than quitting permanently, Lange simply became more judicious with acting projects. But she remains open to compelling scripts piquing her interest.
Why Lange Remains Polarizing Despite Brilliance
While often brilliant, Lange continues dividing opinion because her qualities violating female stereotypes and Hollywood norms:
Unapologetic Nature Ruffles Feathers
Lange refuses to be anyone but her authentic self – socially improper opinions and all. This unapologetic quality irritates some used to actresses being people-pleasers.
But for those valuing artistic authenticity, her willingness to be controversial and subvert expectations makes her a feminist icon.
Openly Critiqued Hollywood’s Sexism
Lange frequently calling out Hollywood’s sexist double standards struck nerves in a patriarchal industry. While truth-telling, her outspokenness labeled her “difficult” by powerful peers.
Meanwhile, creatives seeking fair representation applaud Lange forcing Hollywood to acknowledge its ingrained gender biases.
Acting Chops Threatened Male Co-Stars
Lange’s immersive acting style often garnered more praise than male co-stars. Rather than stroking egos, she competed to deliver the most memorable performance on her own merits.
In sexist eras, Lange’s talent threatening acclaimed male actors made her a target of petty jealousy. But today’s audiences celebrate Lange as a powerful actress who never downplayed her brilliance.
Aggression Defied Female Stereotypes
Lange’s ambitious persona and openly aggressive pursuit of meaty roles counteracted feminine passivity expectations. Rather than waiting for opportunity, she seized it boldly.
In eras where women were expected to be demure and non-threatening, Lange’s determined audacity was jarring. But it paved the way for more assertive actresses.
Jessica Lange’s Legacy and Influence on Hollywood
Regardless of polarized opinions around her conduct and demeanor, Jessica Lange’s impact on Hollywood remains substantial:
Normalized Complex Lead Roles for Women
Lange starred in some of the first major dramas centered around flawed, damaged women rarely seen as leads. Films like Frances and Country discarded female perfection expectations, paving the way for more nuanced characters.
Helped Remove Stigma Around Mental Illness
By repeatedly inhabiting mentally ill women in acclaimed films, Lange created empathy for psychological struggles often demonized or dismissed during her era. Her humane portrayals helped reduce stigma.
Proved Commercial Appeal of Mid-Life Actresses
By starring in hits like Tootsie and TV’s American Horror story into her 60s, Lange disproved industry ageism that only young actresses could draw audiences. She expanded possibilities for mid-life actresses still hoping to headline projects.
Inspired Actresses By Boldly Asserting Equality
Lange’s insistence on equal treatment compared to male co-stars, both financially and artistically, made her an industry trailblazer. Younger actresses still draw inspiration from Lange demanding Hollywood recognize women’s worth.
While divisive, Lange’s willingness to defy convention expanded the types of female roles considered acceptable for the big screen. The entertainment industry still feels the positive ripple effects of her bold career choices today.
Jessica Lange remains one of the most uniquely divisive actresses to achieve massive Hollywood success. Her bold choices and refusal to conform have drawn both lavish praise from fans and harsh criticism from naysayers.
While her brash style and unvarnished opinions rub some the wrong way, most agree Lange’s immense acting gifts are undeniable. Even detractors admit she frequently delivers searing, powerful performances.
Regardless of where one stands on her personal conduct, Lange’s impact on women in Hollywood is substantial. She cleared space for the type of complicated, challenging female characters actresses crave to this day.
Lange’s willingness to speak candidly and own her choices makes her an anomaly in an industry that prefers polite conformity. Audiences will likely continue debating both her merits and flaws for decades to come.
But most can agree that Jessica Lange has never feared being her true self – on-screen and off. For that refusal to conform, she remains one of the most fascinatingly original actors that Hollywood has produced.
Frequently Asked Questions About Jessica Lange Hate
Jessica Lange’s polarizing persona also leads to many unanswered questions from the public. Here are some frequently asked questions to help provide more perspective on Lange:
Why do some people feel Jessica Lange is overrated as an actress?
Some critics feel Lange gets undeserved praise and awards. They see her acting style as showy and overdramatic rather than nuanced. Others feel she gets labeled a “great actress” based more on pedigree and reputation than actual skills.
Did Jessica Lange really feud with Kim Stanley?
Rumors persist of an on-set feud between Lange and acting legend Kim Stanley during the 1985 film Frances. Accounts vary, with some saying Stanley felt threatened by Lange while others maintain the actresses got along. Both denied any significant tensions.
Is Jessica Lange difficult to work with?
Accounts are mixed, with some co-stars describing magical experiences and others reporting clashing egos or demanding behavior. Most agree Lange is driven and outspoken, which can be perceived as difficult. But many say she is welcoming to those who earn her trust and respect.
Why did Jessica Lange leave American Horror Story?
Lange reportedly left the hit show in 2015 due to the physical and emotional demands of filming the anthology series. Creator Ryan Murphy claimed Lange wanted a break, but she later sued for age discrimination. The truth likely involved both factors.
What was Jessica Lange’s relationship like with Sam Shepard?
Lange and Shepard had a famously tumultuous 27-year partnership before separating in 2009. They had two children but fought often, with Shepard struggling with alcoholism. Still, they shared a deep creative bond and continued loving each other until Shepard’s death in 2017.