What American Horror Story's second season will look like is beginning to come into focus as co-creator Ryan Murphy revealed where -- and when -- the sophomore year of FX's horror anthology series would take place.
After its freshman season ended with the deaths of its two lead characters played by Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott, the drama will be completely rebooted as an anthology series and feature a new cast, location and premise. While Season 1 cast members Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and Lily Rabe will return, they'll be playing the opposite of the characters they embodied in the first year of the FX series.
"[Season 2] is set on the East Coast at an institution for the criminally insane that is run by Jessica," Murphy said Wednesday during a panel promoting the series at the TV Academy in North Hollywood.
Murphy had previously teased that a clue to the second season location could be found in AHS' "Birth" episode and confirmed on Wednesday that the hint was "something that Sarah Paulson's character, Billie Dean, says to Jessica and Taisa as she's sage-ing the house and talking about places where evil collects: We talk about institutions and prisons and things like that. That was the clue."
Paulson told The Hollywood Reporter at PaleyFest last month that the telling scene featured her character, medium Billie Dean, who, in the episode in question, explained to Violet (Taissa Farmiga) that the house had a paramagnetic grip -- like a battery, with negative energy that feeds on trauma and draws things to it. Pressed at the time if the scene in question involved the energy that's often found in prisons or asylums, Paulson added: "I can't say the answer to that but I think you're warm."
In addition to the East Coast institution for the criminally insane, the second season will also find the cast in a new era, Murphy said. "It's a completely different world and has nothing to do with Season 1; there's not a mention of Season 1," he noted. "The second season is set in a completely different time period."
In addition to the five returning cast members, Murphy teased that there could also be more familiar faces from Season 1 set to take on new characters when the series returns in the fall, with a few possibly in attendance Wednesday. "The idea is to work with actors that you love and are excited by. The second season, everybody who was announced, there will be other people up on this stage who are not announced who will also be in it but are playing the polar opposite of what they were in the first season in every way," he said.
Murphy was joined on stage by cast members including Britton (Vivien), McDermott (Ben), Alexandra Breckenridge (Moira), Denis O'Hare (Larry), Peters (Tate), Quinto (Chad), Lange (Constance), Rabe (Nora) and co-creator Brad Falchuk and exec producer Dante Di Loreto.
The producers were also tight-lipped on whether or not Quinto could play one of the criminally insane, only saying "maybe," while the Star Trek actor -- who was sporting Spock eyebrows -- embraced the opportunity to do something new. "The notion of coming back and playing something totally different and in a totally different world with many of the same actors, it's probably one of the more exciting things that has come across my plate in recent years," he said. "I'm really looking forward to it."
As for new cast member Adam Levine, Murphy revealed that The Voice judge signed on immediately after hearing of the role. "He's a sexy guy so he needs to play a sexy guy, but the guy that is different than who you think he would play," he said. "I pitched him the part and he listened, slack jawed, and simply said, 'I'm in.' The second season is fun, sexy and baroque. It has a lot of meat to it; it's a really gritty part. He's with a girl and they play characters called The Lovers."
More details -- including whether or not French actress Lizzie Brochere will play a nemesis for Lange's character -- could emerge soon as producers are set to present their vision for Season 2 to FX next week.
What do you think of the premise for Season 2? Who else would you like to see return? American Horror Story will return in the fall on FX.