"I don't think she was a murderess," the actress tells PEOPLE of the character she plays in 'Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans'
Woodward had been on the outs of Manhattan’s high society following the death of her husband William Jr., which authorities deemed an accident.
Moore, 61, tells PEOPLE she agrees with the official ruling. “This couple, they had a very tumultuous relationship,” the actress says of the Woodwards. “But on this evening, there was a burglar that had been present in this area. And the actual cause of death, which is why it was really deemed an accident, it was a buckshot. Even if you were shot directly, shouldn't have killed someone. But it ricocheted and went into his temple, which is why it was one of those very odd flukes.”
Moore suspects Ann and William Jr. “were not the most centered and healthy people emotionally” the night of his death, “but I don't think she was a murderess.”
In "La Côte Basque, 1965," a chapter from Capote's novel Answered Prayers, he uses thinly veiled nicknames to air the secrets of his close friends, New York City socialites who he referred to as his “swans.” Capote wrote in one vignette about “Ann Hopkins” and claimed that, after her husband declined her request for a divorce and it came out that she was still married to her first husband, Ann “decided to kill him: a decision made by her genes, the inescapable white-trash slut inside her.”
In real life, Ann shot and killed her husband one night in 1955 while staying in their Long Island, N.Y. home. A burglar had been spotted in the area and Ann opened fire on William upon mistaking him for the criminal. Though police determined the shooting to be an accident, New York City’s elite banished Ann.
“From all the research I did, it was in fact an accident,” Moore concurs.
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When Ann learned that Esquire planned to publish "La Côte Basque, 1965,” she took her own life by consuming cyanide in October 1975.
“I think that the truth for Truman was, as he said, should never get in the way of a good story,” Moore says.
Ann married into New York City’s high society after moving from Kansas and meeting banker William Woodward while working as a showgirl at FeFe's Monte Carlo nightclub. Married at the time, William restrained himself from taking his things beyond a flirtation with Ann, but he wanted to keep things in the family, so he recommended Ann meet his son. Rumors had been swirling that William Jr. was a virgin and identified as homosexual, and William hoped Ann could help change that.
Ann did more than that — she and William Jr. fell in love and got married in 1943. They had two kids and a second home on Long Island, N.Y. The honeymoon phase didn’t last long, though, and Billy eventually asked Ann for a divorce. The theory circulating at the time suggested that Ann killed William Jr. to avoid the embarrassment and change in status that would have come with a divorce in that era.
Moore learned all of this for the first time while prepping for Feud.
“I feel like I knew the general broad strokes of this feud, but I didn't know some of the details within that story,” she admits. “I hadn't read the Esquire pieces and again, I didn't really know the women as people. They were more almost just sketches of this idea. It always held a very glamorous, kind of romanticized idea, but getting into it really allowed for a chance to get into the humanness of it.”
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Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.
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