When it first hit the small screen in October 2011, American Horror Story may have seemed like a risky prospect. Conceived as an anthology horror series featuring a repertory cast, the subject matter was necessarily dark and challenging. Against all odds, however, it quickly became a critical success, enjoying impressive ratings and much excitement surrounding the premise of each new subsequent season.
Season one was set in the present day in a haunted house, season two in 1964 in an asylum for the criminally insane, and season three took place in the present day, the 1970s and the 1830s, as it followed the descendants of survivors of the Salem witch trials. Now, writer Douglas Petrie has confirmed the rumoured premise of the upcoming fourth season, while addressing the Nerdist Writers Panel Podcast. When asked by panelists Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett (Syfy’s 12 Monkeys), and Moira Kirland (Arrow, Castle, Medium) if the new season would focus on a Carnival theme, Petrie replied:
“Very roughly, that’s the idea.”
This snippet, confirming the overall theme of the season, gives us a more complete idea of what to expect when added to snippets from the showrunners of American Horror Story – notably that of Ryan Murphy when he confirmed to Entertainment Weekly:
“It’s either going to shoot in New Orleans, or it’s going to shoot in Santa Fe… Jessica Lange has always wanted to play a Marlene Dietrich figure, and now she gets to.”
“It’s set in 1950. 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!”
And what of the indomitable Jessica Lange? Having been in the show from the start, in the first regular television role of her long and distinguished career, she soon became the heart of each new season, effectively leading the repertory cast. Over the years, she has been joined by such sterling supporters as Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Taissa Farmiga, Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Emma Roberts and James Cromwell – many of whom have repeatedly returned in a variety of roles across multiple seasons. For her part, however, the award-winning Jessica Lange has confirmed that she will be taking a deliberate step-back for Season 4:
“It ends up being a lot of time during the year being committed to something. 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.”
While Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett are both set to return for Season 4, additional casting has yet to be officially announced. With its custom of setting familiar faces in new roles, however, we can assume American Horror Story will continue to feature many favourites from its previous casts. Though the glorious Jessica Lange has dominated the show with her performances thus far, her reduced role may well give her cast-mates even more room to shine.
American Horror Story is set to return to FX in October.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter