The American Horror Story Paleyfest panel just came to a close after revealing lots of tantalizing details about the past three seasons of the hit anthology series, among them the title and theme of next season’s installment! Read on for a summary of everything we learned from tonight’s panel and speculation on what it means for the next season.
Let’s start off with the details that everyone has been waiting for! Ryan Murphy confirmed that next season will indeed be about witches and provided next season’s title: American Horror Story: Coven. Murphy appeared reluctant to use the word “witches” himself, but did not correct panel moderator Denise Martin (Vulture Senior Editor) when she repeatedly used the word to discuss the season. Murphy did say “covens” as in plural, which got me quickly speculating about next year’s plot, but more on that in a bit. When asked what inspired the title, Murphy said he’s been considering the idea of writing about a coven for a couple of years now and this felt like the right time to go ahead with the concept.
Murphy also revealed Season Three will be shooting in several locations, one of them being New Orleans, a change for the show which was mostly shot on a soundstage in the past. Murphy also said they will be shooting in “real locations” and that he spent a lot of time researching the most haunted places in America and found some “doozy” places for the show.
One can only assume from tonight’s panel that returning star Jessica Lange and new addition Kathy Bates will be playing witches in a coven (or perhaps opposing covens) in one of those real life locations. Bates revealed that she had been a fan of American Horror Story since season one and asked Lange to talked to Murphy about snagging her a role in a future season. Murphy added that within an hour of offering Bates a role in season three he described as “coo coo for cocopuffs” she confirmed she was in. Murphy teased that he wants to see a lot of seasons Bates and Lange going head to head, and both actress expressed excitement about duking it out on the show.
When asked how he decides who to bring back to the show, Murphy stated he always wanted a repertory concept and that he has a “great family” of actors” involved in the show who are all happy to return. He said it’s a very fluid process figuring out who will fit into the characters who are returning and that he likes mixing things up.
We didn’t get much more info about season three except the humorous revelation by Lange that she has no idea what the description “Glamour Cat” (previously used in reference to her character next season) is supposed to mean, but is excited to do it.
The producers and cast did have a lot to say about the previous seasons including the following:
- According to Murphy, American Horror Story was always meant to be an anthology series with a repertory cast
- Co-Creator Brad Fulchuk revealed Bloodyface, played by Zachary Quinto, was an homage to Ed Gein
- The “Name Game” musical number, came about after Jessica Lange asked for another musical number for the show.
- Lily Rabe’s musical number, “You Don’t Own Me” was mostly improvised
- Jessica Lange’s favorite scene from season two was the one in the diner with Francis Conroy. Lange said acting with Conroy is effortless an very organic.
- When asked about the now infamous first day of shooting spanking scene, Evan Peters appeared somewhat embarrassed and simply said “Yeah, it was good.” Paulson joined in complimenting his derriere and jokingly saying that the first day of shooting gave the “what the [expletive] are we shooting” impression.
- Lange was asked if she ever received a script and decided there was something in it she refused to shoot. After a comedic pause, she replied no. When the rest of the cast was asked if they are afraid to receive a script because of what might be in it, Peters said “Every week you’re terrified, you don’t know what you’re going to have to do.” The quickly added “But it’s good to stretch your wings.”
- Lange revealed she was disappointed a sex scene between Sister Jude and the Monsignor had been cut. After, Lily Rabe jokingly interjected that she got to have sex from the monsignor, Murphy explained the scene was cut in editing based on the tone they wanted to take for Sister Jude towards the show’s end. Murphy also said there will be lots of extras on the DVD/Blu-Ray.
- Talking about the final episode, Murphy said it was originally going to be Lana shutting down the asylum, but they changed it to give the characters some happiness in the end.
- When asked if there is any topic he would not include in the series, Murphy said he use to say vampires, but now his view is “never say never.” He was quick to add there won’t be any vampires right away though.
- The cast and Murphy debated just what happened to Lange’s character when she was taken out into the woods by the Walker children, after an audience member commented saying he believed she had been taken to an alien spaceship. Lange replied, that she didn’t even know she went on a spaceship, they just walked her outside and yelled cut. After a laugh, Murphy said they always intended for the children to seem like they had other worldly abilities, and then jokingly added that yeah she did go on a spaceship.
- The cast was asked by audience member if they preferred their season one or season two characters. Lange started off the discussion saying she preferred Sister Jude, because as an actor “you’re greedy” and there was so much more to work with in season two as far as back story and trajectory. She said she’ll sign up for any role where the character goes mad, but then added that Constance was also a “great broad” from another time who had wonderful monologues. Paulson said she too is greedy, so she preferred season two which felt large and epic, but loved all three of her season one episodes as well. Rabe added “ditto” in response to season two being a favorite, as did Peters who also add Tate was really fun to play. Last, but not least, Conroy said both characters were great to “inhabit” since the writing was so wonderful.
- The panel also boasted some other humorous moments, with Lange having a real life flashback to the “Name Game” episode, asking who Betty Drake was, when a question referenced the name given to her character later in the show leading to light-hearted bickering among the cast if it was her or not, the whole cast seeming puzzled about what Comic Con was, and Paulson’s interaction with a fan screaming out their adoration to her was priceless.
The most interesting thing to come out of the panel in my opinion was Murphy’s statement about possible companion pieces for American Horror Story. Murphy said a couple different incarnations of companion pieces are currently being discussed, but he can’t say too much about them now. Sounds like even more AHS is on the way to be excited about.
In attendance at the American Horror Story Paleyfest Panel were Co Creators and Executive Producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, Executive Producers Dante Di Loreto and Tim Minear, and season two stars Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Frances Conroy, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Naomi Grossman, and next year’s new addition, Oscar Winner Kathy Bater. Vulture Senior Editor Denise Martin served as the panel’s moderator.