Sarah Paulson Talks 'Coven': You'll Find Out What's in the Jar in Episode 5

Maya Salam
Fall TV

Sarah Paulson's good-witch character, Cordelia, got a face full of something bad on this week's "American Horror Story: Coven." We caught up with the magnetic star of the hit horror series this week, but Paulson remained tightlipped regarding the mysterious contents of that jar — which were flung at Cordelia by someone disguised in all black — and precisely how the attack affects her.

"I want [the fans] to be like, 'What was that liquid? What's going to happen? What is it? Nobody knows," Paulson told us. But you won't have to wait long. In Episode 5, " Burn, Witch. Burn!" we will not only find out what's in the jar, we'll also find out specifically how it changes Cordelia.

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Paulson did share that the abrupt incident in "Fearful Pranks Ensue" was a major turning point for her character: "What happens at the end of Episode 4 with the liquid in my face sort of alters the course for Cordelia. Your life is irrevocably changed when somebody perpetrates a horrible act of violence towards you for reasons you don't know. You become a different person."

When asked what "Horror Story" creator Ryan Murphy told Paulson before shooting "Coven," she answered, "Ryan said, 'Oh, lady, it's gonna be fun! You're Jessica's daughter.'" The rest is top secret, but Paulson admitted that even if she'd gotten the full story, it's never really carved in stone in the "Horror Story" world: "We're filming Episode 8 right now, and so we have a long way to go. I think — and maybe this happens in a lot of writers' rooms, but I think in our show's writers' room, it happens a lot — where lots of ideas start in the season, like orange cones that mark the road and the direction you're going to go ... sometimes as you go on, they start changing them, and the road starts to look different. So everything Ryan says in the beginning is always a jumping-off place, and if I get half of what he says, I'm in really good shape."

[Related: Is Jessica Lange Eyeing an End to Her 'American Horror Story'?]

Another point Murphy made, when discussing "Coven" with Paulson, was that the current iteration of the franchise was definitely going to be more fun compared with its predecessor, the grim and disturbing "Asylum." Most fans would agree with that assessment. But the lighter, more easily digested tone of "Coven" doesn't mean that Paulson doesn't hold a torch for her reporter character in the second season of "Horror Story." "I have a very special feeling about Lana Winters. That was my favorite character I've ever played," Paulson said, adding, "I like to act, so I like whatever's in front of me. I'm happy to do it. Lighter, darker, absurd: I want all of it. I'm strapped into the ride, and I want a ride, goddammit."

And while the second and third seasons are seemingly different on the surface, Paulson touched on where they overlap: "['Asylum'] was really about something last year. It was about the forgotten, about the left behind. And this year, it's about the forgotten and left behind that are coming up to show everybody just how powerful they are."

 [Related: 'AHS: Coven': Who Should Be the Next Supreme?]

Speaking of everybody: What is the cast of the creepiest show on TV doing tonight for the spookiest holiday of all? Working, of course! But they did squeeze in some Halloween festivities last weekend. "All of us went out on Saturday. And our hair and makeup people — they are the most extraordinarily talented hair and makeup people working in television or really anywhere — they had the most magnificent costumes, and they were all dressed up." As for Paulson's costume: a sparkly tiara. But that doesn't mean she didn't enjoy the evening. "We had a very fun, active night here in New Orleans that ended very, very early in the morning, and that was superfun. In terms of Halloween, for me as an actor, getting dressed up and putting on someone else's clothes and pretending to be someone else is something I do every time I'm working."

Paulson's awesome takeaway from the night: "Ah, look at all the drunk people. I just wanna go inside and eat some Fritos."

Why New Orleans is the perfect setting for "Coven":

"American Horror Story: Coven" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.