Posts on Livestream before the broadcast of PaleyFest’s “American Horror Story” panel last Friday night expressed the intense excitement with fans preparing to watch the cast discuss their favorite show. The panel included stars from Asylum, the show’s second season — Jessica Lange, Lily Rabe, Naomi Grossman, Sarah Paulson, Frances Conroy and Evan Peters. Surprise guest Kathy Bates, a newcomer to the show for the upcoming season 3, entitled Coven, and show creators, including Ryan Murphy, also appeared.
Lange was asked if she was wearing her Asylum character’s (Sister Jude) red slip, to which she answered, “I never answer lingerie questions.” She was a bit more forthcoming about the now infamous song-and-dance number, “The Name Game,” from episode 2.10. Lange said she’d told Murphy she wanted a musical number since her Asylum character was “a failed torch singer.” She said, “I’m not a singer. It’s always great to do something you don’t know how to do.”
She talked of the brilliance of the way it was worked into the show. After intense shock treatments, Sister Jude, experienced a delusion in which she sang and led Briarcliff inmates in dance. Murphy said, “Truth is she was so damn happy to get out of that habit — she fell to the floor with happiness!”
The question was posed to all the cast, did you like playing your season 1 (Murder House) or season 2 character better. Both Lange and Paulson said season 2, because they are greedy actresses and had bigger roles in Asylum. Lange also said she preferred playing Sister Jude since if they say your character “goes mad, let me sign up right now!”
Conroy said that the “writing is beautiful, so both characters were great … to inhabit.” Peters preferred his season 1 character, saying, “I liked Tate. Tate was really fun. It was crazy.” And Grossman laughed as she said season 2 — because, of course, she didn’t appear in season 1!
Murphy presented Bates joining the cast as his idea, saying, “You know I love a good Oscar winner. I have loved Kathy Bates since the first time I saw her on stage.” He said he “pitched” her this “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” role and told her to take time to think about it, but within an hour she called back to say she was in. Bates, however, said she was “glued to the first season” and that she “told Jess [Lange] talk to Ryan. I’ll do anything to be on his show. It’s all come about. It’s a miracle.”
Lange and Bates reminisced about working together previously on the film “Men Don’t Leave.” Their characters were supposed be drinking in the scene, but the set people brought in iced tea. Lange said, “Kathy said, you’ve got an Irishwoman and a Finlander. No, we’re going to really drink!”
Lange also talked about how working with Conroy on “AHS” has been “effortless” and that her scenes with “Franny” both seasons have been some of her favorites. Conroy said she’s “honored to work with Jessica. She’s extraordinary.”
Rabe talked about working with Ian McShane as the homicidal Santa, after Rabe’s innocent Sister Eunice had been possessed by Satan. Rabe said, “He’s amazing. I’ve been such a fan of his for such a long time. I was so evil in that episode. To get to be evil with someone like that. He’s wicked. It’s so much fun.”
Peters talked about his interesting early filming for Asylum, in which he’s caned bare-bottomed by Sister Jude (Lange). He said it was “good,” to which Paulson, whose character Lana witnessed the event, said, “I quite enjoyed it. It’s a nice ass you have.” Peters said that he was “terrified” each week getting his script not knowing what he was going to have to do, but he said it’s “always nice to stretch your wings.”
Lange said nothing she’d had to do in the show made her uncomfortable, but she’d wanted Sister Jude to have sex with the Monsignor (Joseph Fiennes). Murphy said they “wanted some redemption for Jude. She was in love with him, but it was in her head.” The creators thought that would create a “tone problem.” Whereas Rabe’s character DID have sex with the Monsignor, and she said they also filmed her with Mark Consuelos (who played Spivey) but the footage was cut.
Paulson was asked if she thought her hero character Lana had been corrupted since, in the last episode, her notoriety seemed to have gone to her head. Paulson said no, “I think she’s very human … what would you expect” after all Lana had been through. At the start Lana wanted more than anything to be “taken seriously” as a writer, and “she was redeemed by the end of the season.”
Lange said she’s done accents – a lot of variations on southern, English, Scottish, but that she had to work hard on her Boston accent for Asylum. She said it was “so integral to finding this character … that once I got the voice with the sound then I could slip into it.” Peters said he worked on his by watching “a lot of ‘The Departed’.”
Rabe also talked about the unique idea of Murphy’s to do a sort of repertory theater on TV, with the same actors each season doing different characters in different stories. She said, “For an actor, it’s a dream come true, to be in the safe company of these great writers and actors” and know “you’re never going to get bored.”
Click here to read what the show creators had to say during the PaleyFest panel.