Jessica Lange announced to screaming fans at the American Horror Story PaleyFest panel tonight, “Yes, I’m done.” She will not be joining Lady Gaga in American Horror Story: Hotel, the fifth season of the Emmy-winning FX series next October.
“We’ve had a great run here. I mean, I absolutely love doing these four characters, and in all the madness, I love the writers and Ryan (Murphy) and the insanity of shooting it,” Lange told a full, top to bottom, Dolby Theatre.
During her four seasons on AHS, Lange played a washed-up Southern belle in season one, an acerbic nun in American Horror Story: Asylum, a dominant witch in American Horror Story: Coven and a German carnival ringmaster in last season’s American Horror Story: Freak Show. During her tenure on AHS, Lange won two Emmys, a Golden Globe and a SAG award for her alter egos.
Tonight’s AHS panel closed out this year’s PaleyFest in Los Angeles. Joining Lange (Elsa) tonight on stage at the Dolby were castmembers Finn Wittrock (Dandy Mott), Evan Peters (Jimmy Darling), Denis O’Hare (Stanley), Kathy Bates (Ethel Darling), Michael Chiklis (Dell Toledo) and Sarah Paulson (Bette and Dot Tattler), executive producer Tim Minear as well as new AHS: Hotel cast members Matt Bomer and Cheyenne Jackson. Both worked with AHS co-creator Ryan Murphy previously, Bomer on The Normal Heart and Jackson on Glee.
Bomer said he was still unclear about what character he was playing. “I can’t confirm or deny that there might be a love interest,” he said regarding his character’s connection to Lady Gaga’s. Jackson told the crowd he is not aware of what character he is playing either on AHS: Hotel. Unlike last year’s AHS PaleyFest panel when Murphy (who was a no show this year) confirmed that the actors on stage were returning, Minear and AHS castmembers did not confirm who might be back.As the cast took the stage, Lange, holding a glass of red wine, was the last to enter. She was welcomed with an earth-shattering scream from the cast and she took a graceful bow toward them.
A fan question asked whether Lady Gaga’s addition to season 5 of AHS: Hotel would convince Lange to stay on the show, to which the actress responded, “What does that mean?”
When asked by a fan if Hotel would be shot here in Los Angeles, Minear’s only response was, “Oh, it will be filmed.” Regarding whether Peters’ character would have another love triangle on Hotel, Minear answered, “We’ll think of something.”
While the cast teased each other and continually laughed at their zany experiences on set from Paulson’s Siamese twin sex scene to Chiklis’ shock over such memories of spotting a sweaty clown-clad John Carroll Lynch, Lange took the time to give a heartfelt shoutout to late actor Ben Woolf who died in February after being hit by a car. “We had amazing people who worked with us,” said Lange, “We got to know people that we wouldn’t normally in our own lives, and that was a blessing for us. If I take away anything, it is that.”
The actress expounded how it was she who suggested the idea to Murphy to set AHS: Freak Show at a carnival. “I always loved the idea of a carnival and traveling troupe. I remember going to dusty small town carnivals as a child and seeing these freak shows. No live freaks, but weird things,” said Lange.
Murphy has mentioned to the press how he leaves clues in the current season which are hints to the following season. The image of a top hat on a coffee cup was not only an homage to the 1935 film Top Hat, but also a wink that season 5 would be set in a hotel like that film. Peters, Paulson and Wittrock told Deadline prior to tonight’s panel that Murphy and co-creator Brad Falchuk always keep the cast in the dark about the ‘next season’ clues and their meanings.
One of many hysterical moments in the panel was when O’Hare explained how he had to sign a nudity rider for a scene he was doing with Chiklis. “We did one take,” said O’Hare then adding, “with Ryan (Murphy), you don’t negotiate. You open the page and say ‘I have to do this now.'”
To which Lange quipped, “Or you can just refuse…”
At which point the cast extended their hand toward her, gesturing in silence the great creative collaboration she had with Murphy and Falchuk on AHS.