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The leading ladies from FX’s American Horror Story anthology gathered Tuesday to spill secrets (and horror stories) from the set of the Ryan Murphy anthology during a panel promoting the series for members of the Television Academy.
While details were scarce about season five’s upcoming Hotel, the cast had no qualms disclosing numerous behind-the-scenes secrets during the past four seasons — including one tale about the incident that rattled star Gabourey Sidibe more than anything else during production.
“I was in the hair and makeup trailer with one makeup artist and we heard scratching, like something was trying to get in our trailer,” Sidibe said of the scary moment during season three’s Coven. “I turned to the lady and was like, ‘PRAY! PRAY RIGHT NOW!’ ”
That came after Sidibe learned to recite a Latin chant meant to summon Papa Legba, a supernatural deity who serves as a gatekeeper between the physical and spiritual realm during Coven‘s “Go to Hell” episode.
Although playing the convincingly fearless Queenie, Sidibe insists she’s quote the opposite. “I’m scared of everything and everyone,” she admitted.
Her fears came to life on set, starting with a light fixture that began to shake during the filming of the chanting scene. “It would stop and then start again. People were like ‘Ooh, it’s Papa Legba’ and I was like, ‘Shut up you guys, words have power!’”
The actress recalled how she couldn’t move her back when she tried to get up, but she remained mum because production was threatening to shut down because I was so freaked out. Then when filming was moved across the hall to film a few more takes of the chanting, the weirdness intensified as the light fixture crashed to the ground while she was reciting the lines.
But the strangest occurrence, Sidibe said, was when she felt a finger moving up her chin. “We we’re shooting close-up and the finger kept moving up. All of a sudden it was in my lip … it became like five times bigger.”
That’s when production finally decided to stop shooting, and Sidibe returned to the hair and makeup trailer. After she heard the eerie scratching noises outside, the medic came and told her she needed to go to the hospital ASAP. By 11 p.m. though, Sidibe wasn’t having it. Instead, she requested the doctor visit her home as well as that of another guest, too. “I called my friend who’s Catholic and she gave me St. Michael’s prayer. It went away once she prayed.”
However, Sidibe felt the weird finger again when she had to recite the chant once more for the season’s final episode. Sidibe said that this time, the finger moved down her forehead to her upper lip, where its touch had a similar effect as before. “And the only thing that was the same were those Papa Legba words.”
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