Exclusive Interview: Angela Bassett on ‘American Horror Story: Coven’

Angela Bassett

When FX presented “American Horror Story: Coven” to the Television Critics Association, all I knew about the new season was the title, and that Angela Bassett is playing New Orleans voodoo priestess Marie Laveau.

They’re still being very secretive. I did know I wanted to interview Angela Bassett though. I solicited some fan questions from Twitter, so thank you readers for those. And I got to ask a few of my longtime fan questions when I got to sit down with Bassett one-on-one. 

CraveOnline: You’ve used French before. 

Angela Bassett: Very little.

Have you had to brush up on your language skills for New Orleans?

Yes. Yes, I have. A little bit, yeah. Yeah, I did a little bit of French in Jumping the Broom. I think that was it, right? That’s the only place. I grew up speaking Spanish and this is a little Creole French.

Are you going to be speaking French a lot?

Yes, I’m trying to put a little bit into the first episode, a little mon cheri, a little bit of that.

Well, mon cheri we all know. Do you have some specific French words?

Oh, on and on and on? Let’s see, just how you would say “my name is” but in the Creole. It’s not high high French. It’s the French of Louisiana, the Creole French. It’s a little different, which they wouldn’t understand in France. It’s a language that’s sort of dying off, but someone I just met last week who is of Creole descent, a lot of them have grown up with certain phrases all their lives. We’re trying to sprinkle a little of that in it. Not so much that they’ll have to do subtitles for you guys. 

Are you playing a good or evil character?

I think I’m playing an evil character with good intentions. No, that’s the question. I don’t know which way it’s going. Right now, starting off this week, in my mind, she’s good. She’s doing what’s good, what’s right. I don’t know where she’s going to take the turn, but what she’s doing is good. She’s not evil for evil’s sake. She’s righting some wrongs.

Did you know anything about voodoo before Marie Laveau?

No. I’d heard of her. I was familiar with Marie Laveau so I was familiar with her as an individual person, esteemed highly in Louisiana culture but I didn’t know anything about voodoo.

Had you shot films in New Orleans before?


What are the pros and cons of working in New Orleans?

From my point of view, the actor’s point of view, the music, the food, the people. I think the people number one [are pro]. They’re very warm. That whole idea of southern hospitality, “I certainly hope you enjoy the rest of your day.” Just the things they say to you, it’s just very colorful and very sincere. I love that. 

Did you ever get spooked on the set?

No, not yet. Not yet. I did go to her tomb yesterday. I mean, I walked in there gingerly and with respect, but that’s as close as I came to being a little bit spooked. But not on the set.

Can you believe it’s been 20 years since What’s Love Got to Do With It? How do you reflect on that film?

I don’t really think about it too much. I was told this year that it’s the 20th anniversary and it was like, “What? The hell you say. Are you sure about that?” I remember it fondly, I remember it like yesterday, I remember it proudly but I can’t believe it’s been 20 years.

I can’t either. Did you ever hear from Ike Turner over the years?

I ran into him once a couple years after that. Degnan, down there off Crenshaw. 

How did that go?

He was like, “Hey, girl. I’m going to make my own movie. I want you to be in it.” I was like, “I think we already did it. You’re going to do it again?” From his point of view, of course. He was eye of the tiger and positive. I may have had a little trepidation, but he was warm to me. 

It’s been 21 years since Malcolm X and 22 since Boyz n the Hood.

Okay, what are you trying to do? You trying to make me feel good? [Laughs]

Reflect on the classics. It’s only been 15 years since Stella Got Her Groove Back.

Oh, wow, really. I guess I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, just keep striving, keep trying to find new and great women and roles to play. That’s what it’s about. Leave the reflection to others. I take a moment now and say, “Yeah, I’ve been blessed to be able to do some good stuff.” There are some highlights there that have touched people and they were well drawn, well written, well performed. People are still enjoying them today.