Kathy Bates will play Louisiana-born socialite and serial killer Marie Delphine LaLaurie in Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Coven debuting in October. Bates’ character was a big wheel in New Orleans until a fire broke out in her house in 1834 and people responding to help discovered bound and tortured slaves inside. Angela Bassett, meanwhile, will play Marie Laveau, a Louisiana Creole and Voodoo priestess who also lived in New Orleans in the 19th century. Jessica Lange will play a witch named Fiona, and Sarah Paulson will play her daughter, Cordelia. And no, it’s no coincidence Paulson’s character has the same name as King Lear’s good daughter — the one who winds up dead after Dad goes mad, AHS exec producer Tim Minear told TV critics at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013 this afternoon. Minear appeared onstage with Lange, Paulson, Bates and Bassett, and noted this is just part of the Coven cast, which he described as a “murders’ row of actresses.” Other names reportedly signed on for the coming season include Patti LuPone, Francis Conroy, Gabourney Sidibe, and Lily Rabe.
“The cast is off the hook — we could have gotten George Cukor to direct,” Minear joked — a reference to the director of classic late 1930s flick The Women with its all-female cast and based on the Clare Boothe Luce play of same name. This year’s AHS will look at “bigger themes” of oppression of minorities, and minority groups going after each other and doing the work of the larger culture,” Minear hinted. There is also a strong “feminist theme” running through AHS: Coven, he said. And a higher “fun quotient” this coming season than last, which has been set in an asylum. The fun quotient, he said, “might be a little more welcoming to an audience” than last season.