Zachary Quinto American Horror Story Season 2EXCLUSIVE: Another key piece of the upcoming second season of FX’s hit drama series American Horror Story has fallen into place. Zachary Quinto, who did a scene-stealing four-episode arc on the first season of the Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk drama as the Harmon house’s doomed former co-owner Chad Warwick, will be back as a series regular in Season 2, joining Jessica Lange. Like Lange, he will play a brand new character next season, which is set at an East Coast institution. What’s more, I have learned that Quinto will play one of two male leads and the nemesis to Lange’s character, which will be at the center of the Season 2 storyline. The part is sure to draw parallels to Quinto’s breakout role as uber-villain Syler on Heroes.

While Lange had been expected to return — she confirmed ongoing negotiations at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, where she won for her performance on the show, Quinto’s return had been kept under wraps until now. Quinto and Murphy are friends; that’s how Quinto’s original stint on the show came about. After the critical praise Quinto received for his arc, he was open to coming back. “I had an amazing time and I only did four episodes of the season, so it was just a little bit of an appetizer for me; I would love to work more,” he said in an online interview last month. An anthology series like AHS is perfectly suited for Quinto, who wants to keep a hand in television but, busy as an actor and producer on the feature side, can’t make the 5-6-year commitment required on a regular series.

In addition to Lange and Quinto, three other actors from Season 1 of AHS will return next season. Murphy is expected to announce their names at the show’s panel tonight, which will open this year’s PaleyFest. Additionally, AHS is casting several other roles, including the male co-lead opposite Quinto. Quinto, repped by CAA and Untitled, won’t be attending tonight’s event because he is in production on Paramount’s Star Trek sequel, in which he reprises his role as Spock. He recently did the awards circuit with the indie Margin Call, which he starred in and produced through his production company, Before the Door. The film won the Best First Feature and the Robert Altman Award at the Independent Spirit Awards, received a best original screenplay Oscar nomination and was named Best First Film by the New York Film Critics.