It’s no secret: Women have always run “American Horror Story.”
Whether they were in charge of covens or performing as freaks, the women of “American Horror Story” are a force to be reckoned with. The ladies of the show were celebrated by the Television Academy Tuesday night with a special panel, including cast members Kathy Bates, Jamie Brewer, Connie Britton, Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe and Gabourey Sidibe, along with executive producers Jennifer Salt and Alexis Martin Woodall.
Some of the women, like Paulson and Rabe, have been part of the show for several seasons; Britton, however, was only in the first, dubbed “Murder House” — but she hasn’t ruled out returning to the show.
When asked by moderator Debra Birnbaum, executive TV editor at Variety, if she would return to the show, she didn’t miss a beat before answering, “Of course I would,” eliciting a roar of excitement from the audience.
“I would love to come back, but scheduling is tricky,” clarified Britton, who currently stars in ABC’s “Nashville.”
Still, Britton looked back fondly on her experience on “American Horror Story,” remembering the show before it became an Emmy-winning hit.
“The thing that [creator Ryan Murphy] said to me was, ‘You can take my word for it that you will not be doing anything that you’ve been doing for the last five years on this show,'” said Britton, who had been doing “Friday Night Lights” before “American Horror Story.” “And that appealed to me a lot.”
Bates, who first appeared in the show in season three, “Coven,” and would go on to star in season four, “Freak Show,” also looked back on where she was in her life when Murphy’s offer came up.
“My show got kicked to the curb, I had a double mastectomy and I needed help!” said Bates. “And thanks to my friend Jessica Lange, she got an appointment with me with Ryan, and he pitched Delphine LaLaurie, and I came to life after all those difficult months.”
Even though Lange — who recently announced she won’t be returning to the show after being a staple on it for four seasons — wasn’t at the panel, her presence was certainly felt. The cast and exec producers sang her praises, spilling details on what it’s like to work with the actress.
“She, to me, is like a cat on a wire,” said Paulson. “She’s very alive and incredibly present and totally scary as hell, because there’s something very unnerving about someone who’s that alert in a scene with you. You kind of can’t get away with anything.”
“Being her only daughter was a thrill in itself,” said Brewer, referring to her character and Lange’s mother-daughter relationship in season one.
As far as future seasons go, the women were tight-lipped. None of them would even confirm that they would be in season five, “Hotel.”
Paulson, however, did drop a little scoop on “Freak Show.” The actress is the only one to appear in every season and never have a character die, but she said she thought her most recent characters, conjoined twins Bette and Dot, wouldn’t live to see the end of the season.
“I think it wasn’t always the plan for the twins to survive,” said Paulson. “I don’t think it was always the plan. And I think I was a little excited that I was maybe going to get to do a big death scene or something. Then I was always happy to hold onto my title as the only person who’s never died on the show.”
Though the night was focused on the women of the show, there were two men that the panelists wanted to praise. One of them was creator Murphy.
“Ryan Murphy is more enthralled with women and strong women and tough women and gorgeous women and glamorous women,” said Salt. “Every single kind of woman is what he lives for, and bringing them to screen and giving them great things to do is what he lives for.”
Sidibe declared that the highlight of her six-year career as an actress to date was a scene in which she got shot in the stomach, fell on the ground, crawled along the floor until she picked up the gun and shot herself in the head. “I’m never going to get to do that again,” she predicted, appreciating that Murphy let her be a “creep.”
The other man that was brought up was “Murder House” and “Freak Show” cast member Ben Woolf, who died last month after being hit by a car. Bates asked for a moment of silence for the late actor.
Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.