Jessica Lange's 'Surprising' Success on 'American Horror Story' �" and Why She Doesn't Watch It
Jessica Lange's 'Surprising' Success on 'American Horror Story' - and Why She Doesn't Watch It
Jessica Lange may be the only person who isn't enjoying her performance on "American Horror Story."
It's not that she doesn't enjoy the work, she says: She just doesn't like to watch herself. The two-time Oscar winner says she's never seen a full episode of the Ryan Murphy-Brad Falchuk hit on FX, except when she attended this season's premiere. Even then, she had to balance her enjoyment of the show with her discomfort in watching herself act on screen.
You can't argue with success. Lange won her second Emmy for the first season of "American Horror Story," after winning her first for HBO's "Grey Gardens" in 2009. More awards seem inevitable: She's nominated for a second Golden Globe this month for her second season on the series, which this time around is called "American Horror Story: Asylum." Lange already won a Globe for the first season.
If voters prefer sympathetic characters, her odds have only improved this time around. In the show's debut season, she played extremely creepy neighbor Constance Langon, who barks at her special-needs daughter and breathes bitterness. In "Asylum," she plays Sister Jude Martin, a former singer who becomes a nun after a drunken car accident. She's soon drawn deeper and deeper into a nightmarish asylum run by the Catholic Church.
We talked with Lange about how to look sane in an insane asylum, what part of her new role she opted not to do anymore, and what Pauline Kael saw in her at the very start of her career.
Congratulations on the Golden Globe nomination. It seems like you're getting any award they can give out lately. Lange: [Laughs.] The two seasons with these characters have been really surprisingly rewarding, let me put it that way. It's been great.
Are you surprised that people have liked American Horror Story as much as they have? Yes, I am, actually. I have to admit that I am not a television aficionada. I don't know how it all works. When I got involved in this it really was because Ryan sweet-talked me into doing this, which I think he has a certain talent for. I just kind of jumped in blindly. I had to idea what to expect. So when it became so wildly popular right from the beginning, that surprised me, and then when the performance got the kind of attention it did, that surprised me. And now it's repeating a second year is equally surprising. I really didn't know what to expect going into this. But it has been quite wonderful.
You've said you'll be back for season three. Any idea what's planned? There's been loose talk about what it could be, but I don't think anything is decided yet.
It doesn't seem like there are a lot of places where the show can go that would be scarier than an asylum. I think what they hit on this year -- in terms of scenes and threads that they could follow -- was much richer than the first season. Just because you were dealing with such huge subjects: the Catholic Church, psychiatric institutions, psychiatric treatment, madness, the warehousing of people, Nazis, aliens. They covered a lot of ground this year. I don't know how they're going to top it next year. [Laughs.] Ryan's amazing that way. He definitely finds something that he can pursue for that length of time and still find the novelty and the interest in it.