For weeks now, FX and Ryan Murphy have been relentlessly teasing the upcoming creepfest American Horror Story: Freak Show. And while ghastly clowns and sword-swallowers are a treat, these teasers aren't really a part of the show itself, and only a few actual details about the Freak Show plot and characters have emerged. Until now. Cue the slo-mo calliope music.
As a part of the upcoming EW Fall TV Preview, Murphy and the cast divulged a big top full of information about what we can expect to see this season. Assuming you aren’t hiding your eyes behind your lobster hands or anything.
Emmy winner Jessica Langue will star as Elsa Mars, a former German cabaret star who brings her financially troubled freak show to Jupiter, Florida. (Expect to see some cabaret flashbacks.) In true Lange character form, Elsa is definitely manipulative in achieving her goals, but the actress emphasizes this isn’t all about exploitation and that she loves her employees and “truly cares for them in her own selfish, narcissistic way.” But times are tight, and she is rounding up a few new faces for her crew, some of which spark controversy.
She brings in Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis), a muscle-bound strongman who is trying to evade capture by the cops, and his wife Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett), a performer with three breasts, in full Total Recall style. Sarah Paulson, who plays new conjoined twin recruits Bette and Dot, says that Bassett was a fan of flashing the prosthetics around the set.
Dell attempts to become the big man in the ensemble, but he has some competition from someone very close to him, as Elsa already employs Dell’s son Jimmy (Evan Peters), a performer who was born with misshapen hands, and Dell’s ex-wife Ethel (Kathy Bates), the bearded lady who is basically Elsa’s second-in-command. Murphy shared Ethel’s past was a bright one, as she was a legit circus star in the 1920s and 1930s, but “then she had her baby and she became a down-and-out drunk, and Elsa saved her.” But not “shaved her,” thankfully.
On the dark side of things, we have Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch), an evil bastard who isn’t too pleased that the freak show has arrived in Jupiter, where he is now retired. His goal becomes terrifying the performers, and Murphy makes a particularly vivid promise. Twisty wears a mask over the lower part of his face, and whenever that mask finally comes off, Murphy says that the reveal of what's beneath it will make audiences "faint in terror.” Considering I’ve never fainted in my life, I’d have to expect to see my dead grandfather on the lower part of his face in order for that to actually happen.
For the series’ annual two-part Halloween episode, Wes Bentley will take on the role of Edward Mordrake, a man who has another face on the back of his head that tells him to do evil things. Emma Roberts and Denis O’Hare play a pair of con artists, while Frances Conroy is an affluent woman whose son, played by Finn Whitrock, wants to become a part of the freak show. And then there’s Gabourey Sidibe, a socialite who returns to Jupiter after getting word that her mother (Patti LaBelle) has gone missing.
Buy a ticket to the freak show when American Horror Story returns on Wednesday, October 8. Make sure your fainting pillow is fully fluffed.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper. Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.