The cast that plays together, stays together.
That seems to be the case with American Horror Story: Coven, the third season in Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology series on FX and the subject of a panel during the final night of this year’s PaleyFest. Though we won’t get another season of Coven witches, Murphy unveiled new details about the freaky next season, while the cast — including Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, and Angela Bassett — revealed how they got caught up in the revelry of New Orleans while filming there. Here’s what we learned from the panel, which provided further proof that the Coven fans are some of the most loyal around.
New to the Horror Story
Murphy’s rotating troupe of actors boasts quite an impressive resume, but he didn’t have to work too hard to gather such talent. “I’ve been a fan of the show since the first episode,” said Coven star Emma Roberts. Other newcomers this season, such as Gabourey Sidibe and Bassett, were also fans of Murphy before they were asked to join the show. Sidibe admitted that she was excited when she got the job, though she “didn’t know what I was getting into.” Bassett saw the show as an amazing opportunity to work with great actors in creative ways. “Reading the script, you’re excited about what you’re going to be doing, but you get jazzed about what others are doing when you’re not in the scene with them. It’s like three shows in one to me,” she said.
“The great, fun thing about the show, it’s always the opposite of the year before for me,” Murphy said when asked about the different look of the series each season. So after the dark and grim Asylum, why witches? “The idea of this year was that we wanted it to be more modern and contemporary and glamorous,” he said.
Series co-creator Brad Falchuck further explained: “Each season is about something behind the genre. This season, the idea became about women and mothers and daughters.”
And when it comes to ladies on the small screen, AHS has put together “the most amazing group of women that has been on TV” — at least according to Murphy. But the show is still created by men, and there are two in the cast: Evan Peters and Denis O’Hare. And what about the fact that both of their characters can’t speak? “It’s a coincidence at the end of the day,” admitted Murphy. “The boys did an amazing job and they were very, very good. It’s hard to make guy characters pop in a sea of so many iconic female actors.”
So what was it like acting without words? Pretty easy if you ask O’Hare. “Half of acting is not speaking,” he said. “The hardest thing to do is reaction shots. Not speaking is one of the great ways of communicating. I loved it and had the best time.”
Party all the time
The panel served as a reunion in many ways for the cast, and they were eager to share stories about their time working together on location in New Orleans. And most of those stories, it turns out, involved being more than a little tipsy. “We were drunk a lot!” joked Paulson.
A highlight: Sidibe told the story of she and Paulson wandering the streets in search of a mystery bar the writers had told the cast to visit. Paulson was glitter-bombed, which led to a brawl of sorts.
The cast quickly learned the city by living in different neighborhoods and visiting each other around town. Bassett said New Orleans food is divine, but can’t be outdone by the cocktails. Bates said she had a great view of the pool at the hotel next to hers and really enjoyed the “Southern decadence” of the men in Speedos she saw (she took pictures and sent them to her friends back in New York). The cast also had some fun at the expense of Jessica Lange — she missed the panel to spend spring break with her grandchildren — claiming their co-star was a kleptomaniac with a drinking problem!
The best fans in town
Each panel at PaleyFest features an audience Q&A at the end, but this one got pretty interactive. Paulson appeared to be the fan favorite in the room. She was blatantly hit on by one female audience member (“Sarah, call me”) and was given letters written by two young fans, who were just as excited to see their faces on the Dolby big screen as to meet Paulson herself.
But it was a group of fans from Mexico who stole the show. Wearing homemade “On Wednesday We Wear Black” T-shirts, one overwhelmed male fan could not contain his excitement about that one time Paulson replied to his tweet — by calling him nuts. Well, he clearly took that as a compliment, and created a shirt with the tweet silkscreened on the front. Paulson signed the shirt, which will surely never be washed again.
Get your Freak on
After months of speculation, Murphy confirmed that the next season of American Horror Story would be titled Freak Show. In a PaleyFest tradition, he also revealed details about what fans can expect. The show will once again shoot in New Orleans, though it will be set in 1950 in Jupiter, Fla. As EW previously reported, Freak Show will find Lange as a German ex-pat managing one of the last freak shows in the U.S.
Murphy also confirmed that everyone who was on the panel would be involved in the new season in some way. That added Sidibe, Roberts, O’Hare, and Jamie Brewer to the already confirmed Paulson, Peters, Bates, Bassett, and Frances Conroy. But the big news of the night was the announcement of Michael Chiklis joining the cast as Peters’ father and Bates’ ex-husband. Chiklis said he signed on for the show because he was terrified of it and, as an actor, felt like that was an exciting thing to do. Murphy also revealed that some actors from the first two seasons of AHS will also return, noting that their participation is just a matter of scheduling at this point.