For as much as we know about the upcoming season of ‘American Horror Story: Freakshow,’ there still is a lot of questions on what to expect and in an interview with EW, series creator Ryan Murphy gives us a few hints on what we’ll be seeing. Honestly, he gives us a lot more! With that being said, there is a lot of ground to cover so strap in and get ready to read!
First off, if you are wondering where the idea of a freak show came from, you can thank Jessica Lange:
“It’s something that Jessica she had always talked about it. Jessica’s a photographer so she had always been interested in that carny world. If you look at her photography, she’s always interested in the lost and the forgotten and the beautiful survivor of it all. We talked about it like every couple of weeks. She sent me a book actually. I once I started investigating it I really loved the idea of it because I felt it was such a ripe world. The carny world, the freak show really ended for the most part when television began. So one freak show replaced another so that was always the idea.
I always was very interested in Tod Browning’s Freaks. I loved that movie and Carnival of Lost Souls so there’s a lot of horror tropes to pull from and admire. It’s also our biggest year so I think it took a while and it took success for us to earn the money to do what we had to do. We had to build an entire city. We built an entire huge compound and then we had to build the interior of all those buildings on set. It’s all period. And it’s all based on [production designer] Mark Worthington’s immaculate research. Jessica went she first walked in said she was brought to tears. She kept saying, “It’s like a poem. It’s like a poem.” It’s a very romantic, sad place.”
So what will the direction of the season be? Well, the conjoined twins played by Sarah Paulson are actually going to be part of the central theme:
“It sort of dovetails with a time in our culture where different people of all different kinds of life start to stand up for their civil rights. The performers have put up with centuries of abuse which is all true and are getting to the point where we’re not going to take it anymore. We’re not going to take it from the town, from the law. The carnies historically were always thought of as lower than thieves, lower than vermin. They were not allowed to sit in certain parts of diners. They were not allowed in movie theaters. They were really ostracized from society. They were thought of as the dregs. So that’s going on as Elsa is trying to keep the sideshow going and it’s not working until she stumbles across two girls, conjoined twins played by Sarah Paulson, who may or may not be responsible for heinous activities that have gone on in the town. Then suddenly become her new headliners and of course that begins to attract people far and wide to see this incredibly odd and special girls.
We’re doing conjoined twins in a very interesting way that I’ve never seen done before. What we’re doing with Sarah is one body, one actor, two heads. It’s really a technological and acting marvel for Ms. Paulson. I think people will really be blown away by. We kinda have created this technology to make it work so it’s something that’s never been done and I was really interested in the challenge of that.”
Murphy also went into detail on how the magic of CGI would be used for the visualization of the twins:
“Basically Sarah has two different heads. So when she’s playing Dot she has on a fake head so she can look at that fake head. And we lock out the frame and we’re measuring everything and there’s CGI and then we take off the head. Then she changes her headband and then she plays Bette the other sister. Then with computer graphics we put both performances on one body. She’s playing two different people. But it takes quadruple the time just to do a scene with an ordinary two actors in a room. It’s a lot of work. But it looks so great. I’m so proud of it.”
As for Lange’s character, last year she was quite the villain but this year she is in charge of the show, so you have to wonder, will she be portraying someone who is evil once again?
“Last year, I think her part was more villainous for sure. This year, the thing about Elsa is she’s a very benevolent soul in that her sideshow has been going on since the ‘30s. What she’s done for 20 years is she goes around to hospitals and jails and rescues these “freak” circus performers who are going to be shipped away to asylums and she signs the waivers and she becomes their guardians. So she loves them and takes care of them. She’s sort of like the mama of all of them. She’s trying to do anything to do this freak show going because where are these people going to go. In her way, she relates to them and feels like she’s one of them as well. She’s playing a German ex-pat who had a career in Germany and came here after the war.”
As for the other characters, here’s what Murphy revealed about Kathy Bates and Evan Peters who play Ethel and Jimmy Darling:
“Well Ethel is basically Elsa’s right hand woman. She helps run the camp and she’s sort of the guardian of the law. She had a real tragedy in that she was a real circus star in the ‘20s and 30s and then she had her baby and she became a down and out drunk and Elsa saved her from the drunk tank. So she’s so indebted to Elsa she’ll do whatever Elsa says so she’s sorta like Elsa’s henchwoman. And Jimmy is the big man on campus and is the male leader of the group until Michael Chiklis’ character comes, the strong man, and they begin to battle for power under Elsa.”
And what about Angela Bassett and Michael Chiklis who play husband and wife ?
“Well they show up at Elsa’s freak show because all their freak shows have closed. There’s nowhere else to go and they’re desperate for work and they don’t know what else to do with their lives. Angela Bassett plays a three-breasted woman and Michael is a strong man who is also running from the law because it turned out he did a series of disastrous events.”
Also starring in ‘Freak Show’ will be Emma Roberts who will be playing a character named Maggie:
“She’s a fortuneteller with a crystal ball who’s a complete con artist. She shows up at the camp to help them and it ends up terribly bad.”
Returning to the anthology series will be Frances Conroy and Denis O’Hare. Here’s what Murphy says about their characters:
“Denis is a con man who’s in collusion with Emma. And Franny plays Gloria Mott and Finn Wittrock (The Normal Heart) is Dandy Mott and they’re palm beach wealthy society and Dandy is desperate to join the freak show and the circus. And Franny plays the mother who’s horrified and will do anything at all costs to keep him away from these people.”
“Patti LaBelle plays a friend and coworker to Franny Conroy. Patti plays someone who knows what’s going on in this town and she tries to stop it. She was awesome. She hadn’t really acted that much before. She’s amazing. She’s another person in the long lexicon of people who have been on the show that I just personally am a fan of. So I just called her and said, “I love you will you do it?” I like to do that every year. Diana Ross your call is coming is all I’m going to say!”
“[Bentley] plays a mythical creature named Edward Mordrake. Edward Mordrake is a very famous horror myth. It was a man with two faces. A normal face and then a face on the back of his head that would whisper evil things and force the forward facing entity to commit horrible crimes. And Wes is doing several episodes. He torments everybody. The carnies back in the day had a very specific superstition about the character of Edward Mordrake. It’s very much like a Bloody Mary sort of thing. It’s in that realm.”
The person, however, that I am most interested in will be John Carroll Lynch and his role as Twisty the clown:
“Yes he plays Twisty the clown. Twisty the clown is a murderous clown and he’s furious that the freaks have shown up in a town where he the most evil clown of all time has retired and he’s out to make their lives a living hell. I’m fascinated by the whole clown phobia thing because I personally don’t have it. But whenever we shoot those scenes half the time a third of the crew has to leave because they’re so afraid of him. There’s a real interesting thing that people have with being terrified of clowns So we decided to go head on at it and we tried to make him the most terrifying clown of all time. He’s wearing a mask on the lower part of his face and there comes a point in the season where takes the mask off and when you see what’s under the mask you will faint in terror.”
I cannot wait to see how this clown that everyone hates is coming out of retirement to torture everyone. It sounds like a great way to use him and I love that it is a retired clown that will be one of the largest antagonists in the show.
You can read the full interview with Murphy over at Entertainment Weekly.
Are you looking forward to ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’? Which character are you most interested in seeing on screen?