‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Cast Talks Chopping Limbs, Making Out With Snakes

'American Horror Story: Coven' Cast Talks
Kevin Winter/Getty

Though the “American Horror Story” cast stayed mum about the upcoming “Freakshow” season, there were no limits on the happenings of “Coven”–including, but not limited to, cutting off limbs and the infamous Minotaur masturbation scene.

Castmembers Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare and Gabourey Sidibe and executive producers Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear gathered at the Fox Lot in LA Friday night to screen the “Coven” season finale for Emmys voters and to talk the previous season.


Many of the castmembers were veterans from previous seasons, but Sidibe and Bassett were two newcomers. For her part, Sidibe was excited to get on the show–maybe a little two excited.

“For me, I was a huge fan of season one and two, and mostly of Sarah Paulson,” she said, gesturing lovingly to Paulson. “How I got on the show, I don’t know. I sacrificed a virgin, my own virginity. It was long gone, I’m kidding!”

For Bassett, it was all about the subject matter. When she first got the call from Murphy and Fulchuk about being in the show, she thought she’d have to spend her weekend watching the first two seasons and “being frightened.”

“We started talking, and we started talking about New Orleans and witches, and they brought up the voodoo priestess,” she recalled. “And I just perked up immediately.”

Murphy, however, cut in by clarifying, “My first question was actually, ‘How do you look so amazing? What are your skin tips?’”

Even for the “AHS” veterans, there were some unique circumstances. O’Hare’s character, for one, hardly had any lines for the entire season, despite being a prominent character. That’s because his character had no tongue, but O’Hare didn’t see it as an impediment.

“When Ryan first told me what was the part, I was immediately thrilled because I’m lazy and I don’t have to memorize lines, which is fantastic,” O’Hare laughed. “But the other thing is that acting is reacting, and people are like, ‘What are you going to do? You have no lines,’ and it’s still acting, even if you’re not speaking. Just being in a scene, just to be present is powerful. I had the best time. I didn’t want my tongue back.”

When O’Hare started to question what body part the writers would remove from a character of his next (his character in season one only had half a face), Murphy playfully teased, “I’m adding.”

Fittingly for the show, that wasn’t the only talk of removing body parts that evening. Conroy spoke about a scene in which her character removed the eyeballs of two other characters, and it’s later revealed that she also butchered them.

“When I was chopping up their little limbs, I’m like, ‘Oh god! It’s so sick!’” she remembered. “I got home – we shot that at 1:30 in the morning and everybody was so excited—and I thought, ‘Oh god!’ I called my husband, and I’m like, ‘I’ve done something very sick tonight!’”

Paulson had to step outside her comfort zone as well. Paulson’s character struggled with her fertility, and in one scene used the aid of an ancient ritual that involved quite a few snakes crawling over her and her partner. Despite not being a big snake fan beforehand, she jumped right into it.

“One of [the snakes] French kissed me and I’m totally into it, just because I was in the scene,” she said. “I was trying to get pregnant and I was willing to make out with snakes. And these snakes are, I think, afraid of the fire, so they are kind of trying to take themselves from the experience … so I just starting grabbing snakes and throwing them on my body.”

Sidibe had made waves that season with a sexual scene involving an animal as well, in which she masturbated in front of a Minotaur. At first, she didn’t quite understand the scene.

“In reading it, I was like, ‘Wait, what?’” she laughed.

But, when they were actually doing the scene, Sidibe revealed that it all came to her.

“I was really, really, really proud of myself. I got it. I understood why she was doing it. I thought it was beautiful, so you’re welcome.”

For Lange, she was just happy to finally have a love interest, (“Finally, a man!”) as she had a romantic plot with a character named the Axeman. In fact, she didn’t see her character’s ending–with her in a country house with him–as too bad.

“It could have been worse,” she said. “There I was in this country house with this man I love, having sex. There’s nothing wrong with that!”

Murphy had his own version of Lange’s character’s personal hell. In fact, he had an episode planned around it, but it’s unfortunately one that he never got to do.

“We were going to do an episode called the ‘Go to Hell’ episode,” he revealed. “It was going to be Angela, Kathy [Bates] and Jessica just walking in a circle around a Sears store for all eternity. It would have been so good. Jessica Lange in Sears?”

Stevie Nicks also made an appearance at the end of the panel, where she described her beginning on the set of the show, and an encounter with Conroy after she had just shot a scene.

“She makes a beeline for the bathroom and I just go running at her,” Nicks said. “I just want to jump on her and hug her, and she’s totally in character and doesn’t want to break the character. I don’t know that. And I’m like, ‘Oh my god, that was so funny!’”

Conroy, staying in character, ignored her. Nicks, though, took it the wrong way: “And I finally go, ‘I don’t think she likes me.’”

After the panel, Nicks treated the audience to a special performance.

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  1. Sandy says:

    I absolutely loved the show, The Coven. I watched it religiously. I couldn’t wait for the next showing. Yes at times, it was hard to watch, but I knew when it became truly demonic, it was time to reconsider the program.
    But I must say, when a show starts to entertain Beastiality, Witchcraft & Sorcery; its time to part with my favorite show. It was nice while it lasted.

  2. jon m'shulla says:

    Probably the best show on TV. Mostly for the writing, the cast and the original use of the content. I’m always happy after I watch it. I’m usually surprised. The last episode of season 3 was a bit obvious but, still good. They did wrap it up already. It was sort of an entire episode of denouement. Still…outstanding year, just like season 1 and 2.

    Can not wait for season 4.

    • Roy Munson says:

      I always start out liking it but this season got so weak. Every time a character got killed (or blinded) a week or 2 later, they’d be fine again.
      Where’s the drama? You think that’s great writing?

      • Roy Munson says:

        If the character just comes back to life (or regains their sight) in the very next episode — NO, absolutely not.
        Why would I find that dramatic?

      • Matt says:

        So, to clarify, you think getting killed or blinded ISN’T dramatic?

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