Ahead of New Documentary, Faye Dunaway Reveals Sad Reason Behind Her ‘Bad Behavior’

Chinatown Faye Dunaway, 1974
Everett Collection

While Faye Dunaway is a talented movie star, best known for roles in Bonnie and Clyde and Chinatown, she has also been notoriously hard to work with on set. Now, ahead of the new documentary about her life and career, Dunaway admitted the reasons behind her “bad behavior” and it is more heartbreaking than you’d expect.

She admitted, “Throughout my career, people know there were tough times I don’t mean to make an excuse about it. I’m responsible for my actions but this is what I came to understand, was the reason for them. It’s something you need to be aware of, you need to try and do the right thing to take care of it.” Dunaway is speaking about her bipolar disorder diagnosis along with her struggles with alcoholism. She admitted that medication is crucial for her mental health these days and remember, these were times before medication was as widely accepted or available, even to movie stars.

The Thomas Crown Affair Faye Dunaway, 1968

Everett Collection

Over the years, some of Dunaway’s costars and directors have opened up about her behavior on set. Chinatown director Roman Polanski once called her a “gigantic pain in the ass,” but said that she worked very seriously, more than most he worked with.

Faye Dunaway attends the Gucci show during Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 on September 24, 2018 in Paris, France

Jacopo Raule/Getty Images for Gucci

Bette Davis also shared her experience working with Dunaway, likely on 1976’s The Disappearance of Aimee. In an interview about a decade later with Johnny Carson she called Dunaway “uncooperative” and “very unprofessional.” Dunaway was even recently fired from the Broadway-bound play Tea at Five in 2019 for creating a “dangerous” and “hostile” environment.

In the documentary, her son Liam (whom she shares with late photographer Terry O’Neill) opens up about his mother’s struggles. He said that she “hit rock bottom” a few years ago and went to a clinic in Boston. He added, “She went to lectures and classes and they got her on the right stuff and she came out like a whole new person.”

The documentary premieres on HBO and the streaming service Max on July 13, 2024, at 8 pm ET.

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