The closing night of PaleyFest 2015 was an occasion to get freaky, as the cast of “American Horror Story: Freak Show” gathered with fans to celebrate the success of the past season and to look ahead to “AHS: Hotel.”
Prior to the panel, Ryan Murphy’s band of merry players walked the red carpet to the tune of hundreds of screaming fans. Some of the stars even revealed which possible season themes would most terrify them.
“I was thinking they should do ‘American Horror Story: Space,’” said Finn Wittrock, who played the twisted rich boy Dandy on “Freak Show.” Why? “Because that’s terrifying. No oxygen, no sound, dead in a second. It would be a short one.”
Sarah Paulson, who has starred on all four seasons of the anthology show, had also given some thought to how she’d live out her nightmare onscreen. She envisioned a season in which she was “trapped on an airplane pummeling toward the earth.” “Someone can stop it, but we don’t know who can do it!” she said. “The whole season is about the descent to the ground.”
Another four-season vet, Denis O’Hare, thinks a more cerebral setting would be just as scary. “Inside Sarah Palin’s head,” O’Hare suggested. “That would be terrifying.”
Political nightmares aside, O’Hare also took a moment to reflect on the series’ content and success with the fans. “With all things in ‘American Horror Story,’ there’s always a more serious subject going on than just the more frivolous subject on top,” he said. “I think that’s what makes the show satisfying to people. It’s messy, it’s crazy, things don’t get resolved, but you are fed in a way you’re not fed in other shows.”
Once cast and fans alike filed into the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, moderator Tim Stack introduced a screening of the Halloween episode. This happened to be the episode that deals with the death of the show’s character Meep, a timely coincidence that evoked reverent applause from the fans and cast members mourning the death of actor Ben Woolf, who portrayed Meep.
The panel discussion that followed the screening was a little like a carnival itself, with some actors bringing their drinks to the stage and even heckling each other during the discussion. The evident camaraderie among the actors was proof that they had developed the chemistry of an acting troupe.
Jessica Lange’s panel behavior elicited vocal responses from the audience, particularly when she confirmed that she was leaving the show. Lange also regaled fans with one of her favorite stories from filming: “I was walking down the street in New Orleans in raggedy jeans and a ripped T-shirt and it’s like 150 degrees,” Lange began. “I walk past this group of young boys who are sitting on the steps, and as I walk past, they say, ‘Holy sh–tballs, the Supreme!’ In my 40 years of acting, it’s never going to get better.”
Lange’s anecdote was upstaged only by the big announcement of the evening, which was that Matthew Bomer and Cheyenne Jackson would be the stars of “Hotel,” along with Lady Gaga.
(Actors Sarah Paulson, Denis O’Hare and Finn Wittrock at the PaleyFest “American Horror Story: Freak Show” panel)