PaleyFest 2014: ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Cast Interviews

Emma Roberts

Emma Roberts
Photo Credit: Michael Bulbenko ​for Paley Center for Media
For the rest of the interviews, I had to share the stars with the good folks at Zap2It and HitFix, but we all wanted to know the same things about “Freak Show.” Emma Roberts was a new addition to “American Horror Story” in “Coven,” playing queen bee Madison Montgomery. 
Did you know anything about Florida in the ‘50s and the circus?
Emma Roberts: I don’t know anything about it. I think it’s so cool that it’s going to be period. I thought “Asylum” was so interesting that it was period and I think it’s so cool how they keep going to different time periods. I think it keeps it fresh and fun and interesting. 
Is there any freak in the freak show you’ve been interested in?
Emma Roberts: I don’t really know anything about freak shows. I have to do some research. I don’t even know who is in the freak show, especially in that time period. 
What was your favorite Madison moment from “Coven?”
Emma Roberts: For me, Jessica Lange’s character slitting her throat was just the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me and I was so excited to get to work with her, so that scene to me just really stuck in my mind. Then obviously the other scene where I’m like, “Surprise, bitch” because that GIF will never go away. 
It’s so funny because you shoot things and you never know how people are going to react to it, and I literally woke up to e-mails being like, “Have you seen this?” And then I was like, ha ha. I still get it tweeted at me now. I can try to think of a clever way to do a new Instagram video about it, but there’s just lots of duds in my phone. 
Did you base Madison on anyone you know?
Emma Roberts: I love movies like Mean Girls and Jawbreaker and those kind of roles that became cult icons of the mean girl. So I definitely watched those and what I love about those characters was as much as they were so awful, you just kind of loved them and wanted to see more of them. So for me I wanted Madison, even though she was bitchy, I wanted people to still want her around. So it was fun to get to play. 

Angela Bassett

Angela Bassett
Photo Credit: Michael Bulbenko ​for Paley Center for Media
Angela Bassett was another new addition to “Coven,” playing real life New Orleans voodoo legend Marie Laveau. It sounds like she’s now part of the returning ensemble of “American Horror Story” for “Freak Show.”
Did you get any feedback from the New Orleans community for your portrayal of Marie Laveau?
Angela Bassett: Yeah, they weren’t horrified. They were very embracing and they liked it, it was okay. It was important to me that I did them proud because she means a great deal to that community and to me as well. She was an astounding woman in history, especially a woman of color in the 1800s and the influence she had across the cultures throughout the town. She saved people, she had influence, a great deal of influence and is still so well regarded.
Have you done any research on the ‘50s, the circus and Florida?
Angela Bassett: No, I knew nothing about it. When Ryan said, “We’re going to go to New Orleans and dig into voodoo,” I was a little bit on top of it, but I knew nothing about “Freak Show.” Many, many years ago a script came across my desk where I would have been the bearded lady. That was early on, I’m not trying to do that, but I would welcome that today. 
Are there any prosthetics you would like to wear for a character on “Freak Show?”
Angela Bassett: Oh, anything they put me in. I guess I could be the Elephant Woman or Man. Those guys are amazing. That stuff takes time so I would like not to have too much of that. 
How do you feel about Jessica Lange bowing out after next season?
Angela Bassett: Whatever Jessica wants to do, I’m behind her. She’s amazing and I know, given this season, we’re all going to miss her but you best believe that she’s going to give you her best any time she gets up there. She is astounding. She’s queen bee.

Gabourey Sidibe

Gabourey Sidibe
Photo Credit: Michael Bulbenko ​for Paley Center for Media
Gabourey Sidibe was another new addition to “Coven” as one of the young witches, Queenie. A breakthrough from Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire and regular on “The Big C,” Sidibe speculated on what “Freak Show” may have in store for her.
Would being part of the ‘50s circus be something you’re interested in?
Gabourey Sidibe: I’ve never done a period piece like that. The closest I’ve done to a period piece was a movie set in the ‘80s. 
Have you been aware of the circus before?
Gabourey Sidibe: I’ve seen circuses, yeah. I’ve seen a freak show or two before though. 
Was there any member of the freak show you thought you could play?
Gabourey Sidibe: I don’t know that it was a real freak show. It was in Coney Island. I don’t even know that freak shows even really exist anymore because then you’d have to sign up for being a freak. It’s definitely something that would exist in the ‘50s. 
What do you find scary about an American Horror Story “Freak Show?”
Gabourey Sidibe: I think what will be scary is figuring out how people even became freaks in the first place. 
What was your favorite Queenie moment from “Coven?”
Gabourey Sidibe: I liked the burning of the witch. I love when she shoots herself, when she gets shot in the stomach and then she falls on a chair, falls on the ground, sees the gun, picks up the gun, crawls, army crawls to the hallway, shoots herself in the brain and then dies. You don’t know what happens to her for a whole episode. That was probably my favorite.