Returning “American Horror Story” actress Angela Bassett is in her second season with the show, as one of many actors who have returned for new characters in new seasons. Bassett sat down for a media conference call Friday to discuss her role on the show, and in particular, what it was like becoming part of the ongoing cast of the popular series, which features different stories and characters each season.
Diana Price: This season’s theme revolves around a troupe of performers and do you feel like the “American Horror Story” cast is sort of a family of performers as you go from season to season? Do you feel like more of a part of that now that this is your second time on the show?
Angela Bassett: Absolutely. I feel like it is a traveling troupe of performers. That’s true. This year I feel more a part of the family. You know, having been here before, having established those relationships, not the brand new girl. We’ve got some other new faces. I feel like I’ve been around the block at least one time with them. I feel more comfortable. I was excited. I’m still excited, but I feel more a part of the family this year, most definitely.
Q: I’d love to know if you could just talk a bit about what it’s like on the show working with FX.. and also working with Michael Chiklis.
AB: Oh, well, yes. Well, the work environment is really wonderful. I mean, it’s a hectic, fast paced sort of work environment, but the cast, the crew are tireless. They’re dedicated. They’re talented as heck. We put hours and hours in. There’s nothing but support from the network, which it’s evident from being picked up for another season, I believe I heard, after airing of the first show. That’s just indicative of the support that we experience.
Working with Mike has been a dream come true. Of course, I’ve been a big fan of Chiklis from “The Shield” days, and “The Commish,” and on, and on. He’s a lot of fun. He’s like a big kid. He’s so encouraging and supportive of; you know, do the scenes and finish the scenes. He just gives you props like immediately after, which is beautiful. I love working with him, kissing up on him.
Q: The material is extremely dark, correct?
AB: You know, that’s what Chiklis says. I go, wait a minute. Based on the type of shows that you’ve done, you consider this real dark and strange? I think he says dark and strange. Yes, it’s a little dark because it’s dealing with, I guess, how so-called normal folk view those who are atypical or different. That can get a little bit dark. I’d like to think that what’s dark are the secrets of men’s hearts; envy.
Q: This is an unbelievably talented ensemble cast… Can you talk about what that’s like? It’s a very incredible collection of all-star talent assembled for one show.
AB: That was one of the prevailing reasons for me joining the cast. I couldn’t believe I’d get an opportunity to work with Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates in a lifetime, especially at the same time. It’s wonderful. In some years, I mean, well, last year most of my scenes were with Kathy and Jessica. This year, mostly Chiklis and now Emma Roberts and the like. We’ll see. We’ll see. Everyone is just an ultimate professional. We have a good time. We have a good time with it. We all have an appreciation for this crazy world and the things that we’re asked to do. It stretches us and grows us. The fact that we get to come back year after year and they fashion some completely new insanity for us to play out is a plus. It’s thrilling.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about what kind of interaction you have with folks here in New Orleans about being on this show and also last season? What kind of things do people say to you? Do they talk to you about Marie (Laveau) and now, also about the new character?
AB: Oh, yes. Yes, I love New Orleans and I love New Orleans folk. I was really concerned portraying one of the historical figures of this city who’s so beloved and revered. I so wanted to get it as right as I could. I was really happy with the comments that folk would make that I was the best Marie or they really enjoyed my interpretation of Marie. They were pleased by and large. I didn’t run into anyone who was displeased, so that made me happy.
A lot of new eyes came to the series based on it being set here and based on those characters, Marie, Madame LaLaurie, and the like. This year, you do run into, well, someone just drove me to the airport and she said, “Oh, I can’t watch horror things.” You do from time to time run into folk who just think, they imagine just because of the title that it’s a really, really scary show. It can be initially, but there’s something about it that just grabs your imagination and then you can’t wait until the next week, and the next episode.
It seems a whole lot of fans agree. To tune into the next episode, check out “American Horror Story: Freak Show” Wednesday nights on FX at 10 p.m. ET.