Monday, April 19, 2010

Playwright Topher Payne gets inside Joan Crawford’s head (and pumps)

Posted By on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 5:25 PM

click to enlarge WIRE TAP: Topher Payne channels Joan Crawford for his latest play.
  • WIRE TAP: Topher Payne channels Joan Crawford for his latest play.

Atlanta actor and playwright Topher Payne considers himself lucky that Steven Spielberg, not Faye Dunaway, introduced him to Joan Crawford.

Most young people of his generation discover the silver screen icon – if they ever do – through Mommie Dearest, the unintentionally hilarious adaptation of Christina Crawford's tell-all memoir. Payne, 30, discovered the real actress instead of Dunaway's campy caricature.

As an 11-year-old boy in Kosciusko, Miss., Payne stumbled upon a rerun of "Night Gallery," which featured a segment called "Eyes," directed by a young Spielberg and starring Crawford. "She absolutely knocked my socks off. I couldn't help but hang on her every word, and watch every single move she made," he says. "Afterward, my mom tried, as best she could, to explain who Joan Crawford was. She was a goddamn movie star, and they don't make them like that any more."

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(Photo by DeWayne Morgan, Process Theatre Co)

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