Freak out

Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story’s Jessica Lange came up with the idea for its new sea­son Freak Show, writes MIKE CIDONI LEN­NOX

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - TV GUIDE -

JESSICA Lange has been min­ing the dark­est depths of her soul.

While Ryan Murphy is the driv­ing force be­hind the fright-packed Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story fran­chise, it was Lange who came up with the idea for the fourth sea­son, Freak Show.

The new sea­son is set in Florida in 1952 and re­volves around one of the last tour­ing com­pa­nies of phys­i­cally dif­fer­ent hu­mans, in­clud­ing a bearded lady, a woman with two heads and another with three breasts.

The prob­lem is that business is bad, forc­ing owner Elsa Mars (Lange) to go to great lengths to as­sure the show goes on.

Co-cre­ator Murphy says Lange came up with the con­cept.

“I think back in sea­son one, she said, ‘We’ve got to do car­ni­val freak shows’, and she kept send­ing me books,” he ex­plains.

With his cre­ative part­ner Brad Falchuk, Murphy even­tu­ally em­braced the idea.

He wanted the show to im­bue a spooky, early 1950s sci-fi feel, and he wanted to give Sarah Paul­son an im­pos­si­ble role.

She plays the char­ac­ters of Bette and Dot Tat­tler, con­joined twins who may be the star at­trac­tion that Elsa’s show desperately needs.

Paul­son calls the roles “the most dif­fi­cult thing I’ve ever done in my life”. She says the char­ac­ters’ heads can’t turn to look into each other’s eyes.

“And that’s a hard thing to do, to act with your­self.

“I like to act look­ing at oth­ers’ faces, like Kathy Bates.”

The premiere at­tracted almost all mem­bers of the large AHS en­sem­ble, in­clud­ing cast mem­bers who are phys­i­cally dif­fer­ent in real life such as Jy­oti Amge, the world’s small­est liv­ing woman, and Erika Ervin, who, at 203cm, is dubbed “the world’s tallest pro­fes­sional model” by Guin­ness World Records.

But there’s more to Freak Show than phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance.

“I have al­ways felt like a freak, from two years of age on,” says Murphy.

“It re­ally is a story of prej­u­dice. And it is a story about peo­ple who are not the norm … who just want to be ap­pre­ci­ated and seen for who they are inside and out­side.”



On with the show: Jessica Lange plays freak show owner Elsa Mars in Amer­i­can Hor­rorS­tory’s new sea­son.

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