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FX anthology American Horror Story made its Comic-Con debut with a late-night panel Saturday that largely focused on Coven, its recently concluded third season, while offering only a few clues about its fourth season, Freak Show.
Season four of the FX anthology will focus on the last American freak show and be set in Jupiter, Fla., in the 1950s, with Jessica Lange in the lead role. This time, the Emmy winner will portray a German expat managing one of the last remaining freak shows in the country. Returning stars set for Freak Show include Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters, among others, as well as AHS newcomers Michael Chiklis, The Hunger Games’ Wes Bentley and The Normal Heart‘s Finn Wittrock. Chiklis is playing Bassett’s husband and Bates’ ex-husband.
Paulson will play Bette and Dot, Siamese twins and a likely attraction at the freak show run by Lange’s character. Bates, Peters, Bassett and Conroy play performers whom Lange’s character has rescued. Denis O’Hare and Emma Roberts are also set to return.
Exec producer Tim Minear revealed that Fargo and Body of Proof alum John Carroll Lynch would be joining Freak Show as the one of the central core villains that he said rivaled season one’s Rubber Man, Asylum‘s Bloody Face and Coven‘s Minotaur, calling the character one that will “scare the shit out of you.” He further described Freak Show as “Douglas Sirk meets Zodiac.” “It’s not like the first three seasons,” he added.
The cast also was able to reveal their character names: Roberts is Maggie; Paulson is Bette and Dot Tattler; Bates is Effil Darling; Chiklis is Wendell Del Toredo; Bassett Desiere Dupree; Peters is Jimmy Darling; and Lange is Elsa Mars.
Paulson also did what she could to share details on her character, with the cast under strict guidelines to avoid spilling too many spoilers. “Bette is my favorite right now, and it’s a week in and I don’t know why that is,” Paulson said. “It feels very organic to me and I love her.” She clarified that she isn’t wearing a prosthetic to play the part and eluded to a mystery in terms of how — and why — the process is done offscreen and storywise.
“It’s done in a way that’s never been done before in a sense that no person has played a person with two heads … people have done it with another actress [but] this is a new thing,” she said, adding that there are about 22 people at a time working on every single shot that she does.
The camaraderie with the cast was on clear display with Minear, Roberts, Paulson, Bates, Chiklis, Bassett and Peters all in attendance. The hourlong session was high on laughs, which included Bates receiving a standing ovation and captivating the ballroom with her amusing anecdotes of working with co-creator Ryan Murphy.
The prolific actress recalled being terrified and intimidated at working with Murphy, recalling that she couldn’t sleep after her first day on set and was unable to go to bed until 6 a.m., before sleeping for 30 hours. “And that was without drugs!” she mused. “I think he scares the shit out of me!” she added to roars from the packed room. (The line was capped at least half an hour before the session started, with a massive line of hopefuls waiting to catch a glimpse at the beloved cast.)
American Horror Story: Freak Show returns in October. A specific date has not yet been announced.
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