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Lily Rabe to appear on 'American Horror Story: Freak Show,' reprise 'Asylum' role

The American Horror Story installments of Asylum and Freak Show just became even more connected: EW has exclusively learned that Lily Rabe will be appearing on Freak Show and reprising her Asylum role as nun Sister Mary Eunice. The actress, who has appeared in every season of AHS and is currently starring in the ABC midseason series The Whispers, will shoot her spot this weekend.

The reason for Sister Mary’s return involves Pepper (Naomi Grossman) and how she ended up going from the freak show to Asylum‘s titular institution, Briarcliff. Rabe’s appearance will be on AHS‘ 10th episode, which is their big winter cliffhanger.

EW has also confirmed reports that Neil Patrick Harris and his husband, David Burtka, will indeed appear on Freak Show this season but in separate episodes.

'AHS' star Sarah Paulson calls conjoined twins her 'craziest' role yet

In the three previous seasons of American Horror Story, Sarah Paulson has played a medium, a reporter targeted by a serial killer, and a witch blinded by acid. Clearly, Paulson loves a challenge…which brings us to this year’s Freak Show. Playing conjoined twins Bette and Dot, who are discovered by freak show manager Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange), Paulson admits it’s been her most difficult AHS character to date. But the actress is also finding the fun in it. “Now I’m really overusing the twin emoji on my iPhone,” Paulson jokes on location in New Orleans. “Boy, do I use it a lot. That thing was invented for me.” EW talked to the Emmy nominee about playing two very different ladies and whether she’ll ever get to play Asylum‘s Lana Winters again.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So where does Elsa find you? Are you at, like, a Starbucks?
SARAH PAULSON: Well let’s just say they didn’t see the light of day very often.

Ryan said that Bette and Dot might be responsible for dark things.
Yes. Bette and Dot might be responsible for some dark things. When they’re discovered, Elsa in a way, even though it may not appear to be that in the beginning kind of saves them from what may befall them because of their dark deeds. Elsa at least in the beginning seems to be offering them an alternative to what would have happened if they were left where they were found.

Are their personalities different?
It’s not as simple as nice and evil. It’s more complicated in true Ryan Murphy style. One has more darkness in her but not darkness of evil—darkness of depression, of knowing what’s out in the world. The other one is more of an innocent. It’s innocent and more cynical. Even though they share a body, they have different brains and different hearts. They experience everything differently from each one another.

The process to create these twins sounds so intense.
There are so many ways that we’re making this happen that it’s not any one thing. It’s not just a visual effect, it’s not just the other head effect. This is a combination of 9,000 things. The part that’s the most hardest is when we’re doing the visual effects. I think I thought when I was going to do it was I would do all of Bette, in all camera sizes, and then switch over to Dot and vice versa. But what happens is because the effects have to be the same, the camera has to be locked off. Basically, I have to do Bette and Dot within each camera size and so I’m going back and forth with each girl, every time they change the lens and go tighter. So I don’t get like nine takes as one person. I have to go back and forth and back and forth. They have the same hairstyle but they wear different color headbands. So every time we go back and forth, five people descend upon me. We’ve gotten it down to a science—I can practically do it in my sleep. But there’s 9,000 things that happen as we change everything over, not the least of which is what goes on with me internally to play both of them.

Is this the most challenging AHS role you’ve had so far?
It is the most challenging so far. There’s the inherent reality that everyone knows that I do not have two heads. So we’re asking the audience to go with us on this journey. We’re asking everybody that’s a fan of the show, like people who are with the show, so I have anxiety because I just want so much for everything about it to work that people forget that they’re watching something that they know isn’t real and that they buy it and they believe it. I think that’s why these two girls seem like two different creatures. It’s hard to find to find all the color and variation and nuances. It’s hard to play one person with all of those things going on. It’s obviously doubly difficult to do it when you are trying to give shading and characterization to two people. And I have a southern accent also.

So is the Elsa and twin relationship maternal?
It’s more reminiscent to me of Jude/Lana, certainly between Dot and Elsa. Between Bette and Elsa, Elsa represents so much glamour and so much beauty that Elsa to Bette is like the most glamorous thing she’s ever seen. Bette is such an innocent. There’s so much wonder in her. It’s a very different kind of relationship.

What is Bette and Dot’s relationship to the group? Are you a threat to the other freak show people? Are you welcomed?
The troupe is in need of a real jolt of energy and a new attraction to make people in the town come and see it. The show is not in its heyday. It’s definitely on the downward spiral. I think because they all want to be employed and all of them recognize a kindred. When they see the twins, they’re hopeful and excited that we’re going to bring about a certain kind of change that’s going to be good for the group.

Do you deal with Twisty the Clown?
I think he’s watching us. But as of right now there’s no story there with that character.

Have you had to do crazy stuff yet, like snakes covering you or more goat’s blood dropped on you?
Yes. In the first episode. I mean I’ve got two heads, Tim. It’s almost like there’s no event that needs to happen for it to be the craziest thing I’ve done. But there is something that happens in the very first episode that’s crazy, that sets the scene for the rest of the season for them. It happens in episode one.

Everyone keeps telling me it’s the best one yet.
I think it is. I don’t know that I always have a finger on my pulse. I certainly didn’t think Coven would have the reaction it did because it was so much lighter in tone than Asylum.

I do know from an artistic standpoint both as a reader when I read the scripts the stories are so rich and complicated and it’s just so fascinating. I can’t imagine it not being something that people embrace. I think from a creative standpoint it’s got that feeling of Asylum, in that it’s really about something: this idea of being a forgotten soul in the world that’s just been cast aside. Everybody feels like that at some point in their lives. It’s something that I think has a tremendous amount of currency. It feels very honest about what it means to be a person. I also just think I don’t know how you’re not going to fall in love with everybody and root for people and there’s terrible things happening to people. And the way it looks! The set design! The costumes! The stuff that’s happening this year with the sets and the costumes it is so beyond. And Ryan’s going very different with the style of the show in terms of the way it’s being shot.

He said the look is different in terms of the camera movement.
It’s very different. There’s a stillness to it comparatively. I’m not saying it’s going to be still because it’s American Horror Story. But you think about the defining things of the show and you think about fish eye lenses and rapid fire editing. It is my understanding from working with Ryan the way it was being shot there weren’t a lot of Dutch camera angles, there were no fish eyes, no high and wide in the corner like the view of a spider. It wasn’t like that. I think it’s a very unique visual style and very different than what we’ve done. And I think that’s what’s so exciting about it. The minute you think you can figure out what you think we can expect from the show, it’s Ryan turning it on its head and going, “No I don’t think so.”

Have there been crazy moments in the make up trailer where it’s like “Oh, Angela’s got three breasts and Kathy’s wearing a beard”?
Oh my god. There’s nothing more insane than walking into that trailer. Jessica’s over there getting her hair, freaky make up done. Kathy’s next to me getting her beard put on. And Angela likes to flash them. She’s like, “Look at my three boobs!” Because they’re covering up everything. She can walk around with her three t*** hanging out and everybody is very happy that she’s doing so even though we’re not looking at her real boobs. It’s amazing.

This year in particular like you walk out of a trailer and you’re like Oh Jesus. You really feel like you’re at a sideshow. So many of the people there are really people with special abilities from that world. So many of our extras and background artists are like, “Oh I play at this show” or “I work in this circus.” It’s incredible and it gives it such a feeling of authenticity.

I know Pepper is back. That must be so exciting to you that this is sort of like an Asylum-prequel because I know how special that season is to you.
I love that idea. Maybe season five will be Aslyum the sequel! I just wanna play Lana Winters again—is that so bad?

Like old Lana?
No I think it should be Lana in the ‘70s. That was my favorite look in the world.

Do you know Bette and Dot’s arc? Like do you know what happens in episode 13?
Nope. It always changes. Ryan has told me what he plans for me. But I refuse to believe it until it’s here because I’ve done this long enough with him to know that he’s a man of fever dream inspiration and things come to him out of nowhere and all of a sudden things take a hairpin turn and it ends in a different way than expected. I do know sort of where I’m headed.

Jessica Lange: 'AHS: Freak Show' 'will surpass anything we've done before'

Despite changing plots and wild twists, one of the constants of the four seasons of American Horror Story has been star Jessica Lange, who has now won two Emmys for AHS. The actress is back for this year’s Freak Show (premiering Oct. 8 at 10 p.m. on FX) to play the maestro behind the titular group of performers, an ex-German cabaret star named Elsa Mars. Lange, who has said that this will be her last AHS installment, talked to EW about about bringing the concept to co-creator Ryan Murphy, musical numbers, and what else is in store for this year’s epic Show.

EW: So Ryan said you brought this to him, right?
JESSICA LANGE: Yeah this had been in my mind for a long time. I have forever been fascinated and I photograph it a lot myself—small-time kind of carnival, sideshow, things like that. I mean I started kind of looking into freak shows. It is an amazing history and I’ve always been fascinated by a community of people living like gypsies, on the road and traveling from place to place and, in this case, heightened to the degree that they’re all extremely special.

So it was something I suggested to him a year or so ago. I had originally imagined it like a traveling freak show, maybe Dustbowl, with that kind of desperation. Ryan has set it in another time, which I think is clever, actually.

With the time setting and the return of Pepper (Naomi Grossman), it’s almost like a prequel a bit to Asylum.
Well, with that character, yes. For all the outrage at exhibiting freaks at the time, the fact is they had community. They had family. Some of them made quite a bit of money. They were extremely popular in Victorian times. Yes, they were being exhibited, but when you look at the other side of that, they were cared for. The most important thing—and I think this is what people don’t understand—is the idea of community.

I think what will be revealed with Pepper is that when these freak shows were finally closed down, in a lot of cases they were closed down without the consent of the performers. And a lot of these people ended up in asylums, alone and isolated. So you’ve got many facets to this topic.

You play Elsa Mars, a German lady. And you’re sort of the owner of the freak show and it’s on its last legs.
Yeah, it’s kind of that thing of the end of one popular entertainment and the beginning of another. As Ryan likes to say, “The end of one freak show and the beginning of another.”

And you arrive in this town and you discover conjoined twins Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) and they become the new star of your show?
Yeah, that was a way a lot of these people were found. They would find them in hospitals or jails or wherever and recruited. So that’s how Sarah is introduced into the story. I hear something about her, she’s in the hospital, and I go there.

Is it a maternal relationship between Elsa and the twins?
Well, maternal would be putting it very generously. My character is very manipulative. She understands what’s needed, and she provides it. However, the thing I want to be very clear in this is that my character Elsa really loves these people. She truly cares for them, in her own selfish, narcissistic way. But they mean a great deal to her. It’s not just exploitation. She’s tough, and she’s mean sometimes, and all of that, but she really does love them.

Is she not as villainous as Fiona or Constance?
I don’t see her as villainous. She’s delusional—let’s put it that way [laughs]. But it’s fun to play a delusional character. But she came out of the Weimar Republic, out of that just the s–tstorm between the two wars in Germany and was at one moment a very successful cabaret performer and then everything dissembled. And this is ultimately where she ended up: in a freak show, small town circuit in the south in the early ’50s. So it’s been a wild ride for Elsa. I don’t see her as villainous. I see her as delusional, as narcissistic, as ruthless in her ambition. But her ambition is all tied up in her delusion.

I heard you get to sing again.
Oh my God! Singing, yes! In the first four episodes, I sing three numbers. Which is nuts!

How was that?
Well, actually, it was great. Ryan is a little more than usual playing a little loose with time and genre. So we’ve got a couple really big production numbers that I think if they work are going to be very unique.

You perform in the freak show?
Yes.

And there’s a flashback?
Yes there’s a flashback to the cabaret, to the late 1920s, early ’30s.

Well, “The Name Game” performance was one of the highlights of Asylum, so I can’t wait for more Jessica Lange singing.
Yeah, well, you’re gonna get it, for better or worse!

And Kathy Bates basically plays your henchwoman/right hand gal, Ethel Darling.
Yeah that’s another character I kind of save. We have a long history and bond together. We’ve got some amazing characters I think this year. The actors, of course, are all great.

I heard the sets are phenomenal too. Ryan said you actually got emotional when you walked on.
Well I walked onto our big set, the big compound where all the tents are set up and the trailers and everything. I mean I told our art director it was like a poem. It was like you are inside this poem. Incredible. I’ve never seen a set like that.

Have you had to do any scary stuff yet, like deal with Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch)?
No. Ryan always keeps me out of that fray because he knows that’s not my favorite part. I think this is very different, certainly very different from last year. I mean, I don’t know where this is going, so there’s always that! But I don’t forsee any real slasher moments.

Has Ryan told you what the end of Elsa’s arc will be?
Yeah, he has. He just came up with it the other day.

And what did you think of his plan?
I thought it was kind of brilliant.

You had said previously this would be your last AHS. Has this made you want to sign up for another season?
I haven’t reconsidered. I’m just trying to get through this year, and I think this year, without a doubt, will be my favorite. In a way, it was an idea that I had wanted to explore for a while. I think just the richness of it and the time and the place and the characters. I just think it’s going to be unique. And I think, to my mind, what I’ve seen already and what we’ve done, it will far surpass anything we’ve done before.

Yes, fan favorite Pepper will return to 'American Horror Story'

This season of American Horror Story: Freak Show is shaping up to be one of the most memorable so far, in part due to one majorly terrifying clown, conjoined twins, and a gal with three boobs. But now EW can exclusively confirm a rumor that fans have been buzzing about for months: AHS: Asylum fan favorite Pepper, a Briarcliff patient played by Naomi Grossman, will indeed appear on Freak Show. READ FULL STORY

'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy on the Supreme reveal and plans for season 4...and season 5! -- EXCLUSIVE

[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE SEASON FINALE OF AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN!!!!]

The Supreme has been crowned!!! On the season finale of FX’s American Horror Story: Coven, Cordelia was named the Supreme, following in the footsteps of her mother Fiona. But people with M names had a rougher night with the deaths of Myrtle, Misty, and Madison. EW talked to co-creator Ryan Murphy about the wrap-up plus his plans for season four…and five!
READ FULL STORY

'American Horror Story': Season 4 will be set in the year [SPOILER] -- EXCLUSIVE

American Horror Story: Coven is beginning to wrap up its phenomenal season (Wednesday’s episode is a doozy) but co-creator Ryan Murphy has already begun plotting and planning his fourth installment of the FX franchise…as well as peppering the final episodes with tiny hints as to next year’s plot. “It’s set in 1950,” Murphy reveals exclusively to EW. “If you look historically what happened in the year 1950, there’s some more clues in that year. It’s a period piece. We try and do the opposite of what we’ve done before. Jessica Lange has already started practicing her German accent so I’m very excited!”

Hmmm. 1950. German accent. Start guessing, AHS fans!!!

Check back to EW.com after tonight’s West Coast airing of AHS: Coven for more from our weekly chat with Ryan Murphy.

'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy on the latest 'Coven' and whether [SPOILER] is dead -- EXCLUSIVE

[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE LATEST AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN!!!!!!]

The dead bodies are starting to pile up on American Horror Story: Coven. As is typical for this franchise, characters begin to get the ax as the season winds down and last night was no exception.
READ FULL STORY

'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy on chopping off [SPOILER]'s head and even more Stevie Nicks -- EXCLUSIVE

[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE LATEST AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN!!!!!]

It was teased on EW’s recent American Horror Story: Coven cover but last night we saw Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) literally lose her head. Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) lopped off her archenemy’s noggin and sent it in a box to Fiona (Jessica Lange), payback for the death of her minotaur boyfriend. But that was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of dramatic events. Joan (Patti LuPone) gave her son a toxic enema. Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) cut out the heart of a homeless man. And Fiona wore some really fabulous turbans. EW talked to co-creator Ryan Murphy about the latest AHS: Coven developments, including more Stevie Nicks!

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you decide to chop off LaLaurie’s head? Was that decided from the beginning?
RYAN MURPHY: Well the interesting thing about that story was basically we’ve established that LaLaurie’s punishment is that she can live forever so she’s a character who can’t be killed. So at a certain point, as she even says in the episode, she learned like, “F*** you. You can do whatever you want.” So you’re like What could Marie do to her that would be heinous? And then what could we follow with that to make it even more heinous? So when we came up with the idea that she would definitely cut off her head, we decided that wasn’t enough and that Gabourey Sidibe had to do something that would make it even worse. Then we came up with that which is one of my favorite things we’ve ever done. Then we came up with a whole episode which is the winter cliffhanger called “Head” where we follow the travails of Kathy Bates’ head and things happen to other characters’ literal heads or intellects or brain power. She’s such a villain yet Kathy’s so empathetic so it’s become this weird thing where I’m shocked that people are rooting for Madame LaLaurie. I think what happens in the winter cliffhanger “Head” is beyond hilarious. READ FULL STORY

'American Horror Story': 'Fringe' star Lance Reddick joining 'Coven' -- EXCLUSIVE

The supernatural world of American Horror Story: Coven just got a little more crowded: EW has learned that Fringe‘s Lance Reddick will be joining the FX show as Papa Legba when the horror anthology returns in January. The character, described as Coven‘s version of “voodoo Satan,” plays a pivotal role in the life of Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) and will be an important figure in the series’ remaining four episodes. Show co-creator Ryan Murphy teased Legba’s involvement in our recent EW AHS: Coven cover story: “You find out that’s how come Marie Laveau looks so good — because she sold her soul!”

'American Horror Story': Watch Cordelia and the 'Coven' plot Fiona's murder -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

It’s survival of the fittest witch on Wednesday night’s American Horror Story: Coven. With Fiona (Jessica Lange) killing anyone in her path, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) and the rest of the coven — Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), Madison (Emma Roberts), Nan (Jamie Brewer) — plot to take her down. Miss Robichaux’s also gets a visit from a surprise guest. Watch this exclusive clip from tomorrow’s “The Sacred Taking” below…
READ FULL STORY

'American Horror Story': Jessica Lange on why next season will be her last -- EXCLUSIVE

It’s hard to imagine American Horror Story without Jessica Lange—she has appeared in all three seasons after all. But Lange has confirmed that next year’s fourth season will be her last. “It ends up being a lot of time during the year being committed to something,” admits the actress. “I haven’t done that for a long time. It’s like doing a stage play between the rehearsal and the run. This is a 6-month commitment every year. That will be four years in a row. I want to have more time to myself I guess. Once it’s over and I have a full year ahead of me with nothing to do, who knows? It might not have been the best decision. But I think four years doing something is a sufficient amount of time.” READ FULL STORY

'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy on the latest 'Coven' and what's next for Madame LaLaurie -- EXCLUSIVE

[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE LATEST EPISODE OF AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN!!!!!]

The latest installment of American Horror Story: Coven (which also happens to grace this week’s cover of EW) saw an immortal sadist having her first hamburger, a dead-dead-alive menage-a-trois, Angela Bassett handling fish heads and Denis O’Hare in a kimono. But there’s still even more to talk about so EW chatted with co-creator Ryan Murphy about the latest Coven developments and how Stevie Nicks fared with her guest-spot.
READ FULL STORY

'American Horror Story': Find out where and when next season will take place -- EXCLUSIVE

fall-tv-coven-the-originals

As American Horror Story: Coven begins to wrap up its bold and brilliant season, fans are starting to wonder what next year will be like. Co-creator Ryan Murphy tells EW that he will begin dropping hints about season 4 around episode 11, but he will say that, “It’s not contemporary.” He adds: “It’s either going to shoot in New Orleans or it’s going to shoot in Santa Fe.”

One thing viewers definitely won’t see is a rumored spin-off of Coven. Murphy told reporters earlier this fall that he and FX had discussed an AHS spin-off, centered on this season. But that project is dead as of now. Reveals Murphy, “We were starting to break episode 8 or 9 and we were like, ‘Well, we can’t kill that person off because we need them for the spin-off.’ As soon as those words were said, I was like, ‘There is no spin-off.’ Because it took away from the joy of the show. The reason the show is successful is no one is safe ever.”
READ FULL STORY

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