For more than 30 years, PaleyFest has held panel sessions and screenings that connect the worldwide community of television fans with the casts and creators of their favorite TV shows. One of the evenings was to celebrate the success of the anthology series American Horror Story, both looking back on the most recent season, American Horror Story: Coven, and looking ahead to the next season, American Horror Story: Freak Show. Collider was there to attend the panel, and we’ve compiled the highlights about the upcoming season.
During the evening, executive producers/co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk were joined by newest cast member Michael Chiklis to talk about how he will be playing father to Evan Peters and ex-husband to Kathy Bates, that this marks the actor’s return to FX, that the season will be set in a freak show in 1950 in Florida (even though it will shoot in New Orleans), how this was a setting that Jessica Lange wanted, writing roles specifically for the actors playing them, and that some of the actors from Season 1 and/or Season 2 will also be returning, along with Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Emma Roberts, Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare, Gabourey Sidibe and Jamie Brewer. Check out what they had to say about American Horror Story Season 4 after the jump.
RYAN MURPHY: Well, the next season is called American Horror Story: Freak Show. It’s not a circus and it’s not a carnival. It’s a freak show, which is very unique. It’s set in 1950. And it was something that’s been Jessica Lange’s favorite thing to talk about, every season. She wanted to play this sort of character, and she really likes that milieu, so that’s exciting. We’re shooting it in New Orleans, but it’s going to be set in Florida, where all great things happen. And every person [here tonight] is coming back, in some capacity. This year, we’re adding somebody who I have loved for many, many years, and courted for many years. We finally found the right role for him. We brought him in, and Brad and I pitched him, and he said, “Yes, I want to do it.” He’s playing Evan Peters’ father, and he will be Kathy Bates’ ex-husband. He is an amazing Emmy-winning actor, and that’s Mr. Michael Chiklis. And it’s a doubly sweet thing because this is Michael’s return to FX.
MICHAEL CHIKLIS: Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to come back to my home network than to join this magnificent cast. [Ryan Murphy] and I do go back. We wanted to do this, and I’m so thrilled and so thankful. It’s going to be creepy, and we’re going to scare you.
CHIKLIS: I have no doubt. I’ve seen the show. I’m ready. I’m up for it, whatever comes my way. I’m game. I’m ready to go.
MURPHY: This show is so unusual. We love actors, and we write roles for actors. We write them specifically for the actor, with love and admiration. We always start off as fans, and then go from there.
CHIKLIS: When we met, Ryan pitched the idea and talked about what we were going to do. I said to him, “I’m terrified, and I’m going to do it. That’s just a bit of a tease because I would never divulge anything that he said. I’ll leave that all to him. But, I can say that my heart was pounding. It is a freak show. Oh, man! But as actors, that’s what we love to do. We love to take risks and take chances and do things that are challenging. I thought, “Oh, my god!” I’m going to be up to my eyes with this one. It should be exciting.
BRAD FALCHUK: It’s very fun to be in a room with somebody amazing like Michael and seeing his face genuinely challenged by the material. He can do anything, and do see his excitement and a little bit of fear, there’s nothing like that.
CHIKLIS: I said to a very dear actor friend of mine, “I’m terrified, but I’m gonna do it.” And he said, “Isn’t that fantastic?” That’s why we do it. We want to challenge ourselves. We don’t want to just walk through something. We don’t want it to be pedestrian. We want to do something that’s going to make us excited and walk a tightrope. In this case, it’s a freak show. It’s thrilling.
Will any of the actors from Season 1 and/or Season 2 appear in the next season?
MURPHY: Yeah. What’s amazing is that we really consider ourselves a family and a troupe of actors. I’ve always loved that Orson Welles/Mercury Theatre idea. So, I do speak to Dylan [McDermott] and I do speak to Connie [Britton]. It sometimes becomes about scheduling, but once you’re on, you’re on. It’s just about finding that right time and the right role. But yes, there will be some.