American Horror Story’s Jessica Lange came up with the idea for its new season Freak Show, writes MIKE CIDONI LENNOX
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.”
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW
MONDAY, 9.30PM, ELEVEN
On with the show: Jessica Lange plays freak show owner Elsa Mars in American HorrorStory’s new season.