'American Horror Story: Asylum': Interview with Jessica Lange
'American Horror Story: Asylum': Interview with Jessica Lange
Carla Day
Carla Day
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
American Horror Story would not be the same show without Jessica Lange. She was perfect in the award winning role of Constance in the first installment of the series. And, now in Asylum, she plays the troubled nun, who has tried to come to terms with her mistakes. Lange spoke with reporters about both roles and season of the show.

American Horror Story: Freak Show is available on Amazon Prime.


In the previews, we see that Sister Jude is tied down in a bed and is now a patient at Briarcliff. What can you tell us about tonight's episode?

Everything gets put in motion now as far as Briarcliff and the demise of that institution and everybody's departure from it, except mine. Yes, she actually does now try to right the wrongs that she has done, but of course she's totally trapped within her own making, in a way. 

How are the scares on American Horror Story different from last season to this season? 

I think it's darker. I think the whole story is darker this time. It deals on a much darker psychological level. You've got human experiments. I think in some way last season was a ghost story, and this season it really is the darker parts of the human psyche that Ryan [Murphy] is exploring.  

I think the affect is that it's hard to watch, I hear that from people a lot. "I can't watch it, it's too horrifying," or whatever. I don't know, I think you have to strike a balance. I think this season became darker than anybody anticipated, just because of the subject areas that they laid out in the beginning, I mean, the thing with the ex-Nazi SS doctor and human experiments, and the serial killer based on this character Ed Gein. Yes, the warehousing of human beings in these institutions, madness, I mean, yes, there's a lot of subjects that they're covering, the Catholic Church, that lend themselves to great horror stories.

Can you talk about the scene between Sister Jude and the Dark Angel (Frances Conroy)? It seemed like it was the pivotal scene for Sister Jude because she finally bares her soul and comes to odds with what she's had in her life. 

Well, first I thought it was really well written.  If you've got it on the page, then you can find a way.  ...  I just felt that that scene is the turning point for my character, because after this she becomes entrapped, and it's such an honest and vulnerable moment that it shifts the playing field, in a way, from who she was up until that point and who she's going to become.  

But, I don't know, every once in a while, and I don't really know how to describe it, something just happens within a scene and it feels right. It feels honest. It feels pure. And it feels like it's elevated the character to something else. So, yes, it's a mystery to me why some things work and other things don't. But, yes, I really felt that that scene was kind of the crux of the character.

How different are Jude's intentions to Constance's? And, what did you really want to bring to Jude that you may not have been able to do with Constance?

The thing that I found, kind of the spine of the character of Constance, was that this was a woman who had basically lost everything and had nothing left to lose and also was extremely, what can I say, unafraid, so she just manipulated her way and put herself in situations that probably other people would not have. 

With Jude. she has a lot to lose because she's holding on to something that she feels has saved her life and redeemed her. And then when it all becomes clear that everything was false, from the idea that she did not run over and kill this child, which is what sent her on this whole path, trying to find some kind of life, some redemption, some spiritual life, that when she discovers everything is false from the beginning, there's a descent into madness that is completely different and for me much more interesting to play. 
 
I thought Constance was a wonderful character, she was kind of a throwback to the '40s, kind of tough dame, sweet talking but with a real edge, she did not suffer fools, nothing went past her, she had a way of moving through everything and getting what she wanted. [Jude] is much more vulnerable and I think in some way tragic. She's destroyed her life. She's an addict.  She's an alcoholic. She's had bad luck with men, a lot of bad men in her life. And she's come to the end of the road with the hopes that this church, that this man, the Monsignor, is going to save her, that she'll become something else, that she'll make her life worth living.

And of course that all comes down, crashing, and she's left absolutely alone, completely and totally alone, and those are two things I love playing because you also find them in Williams' characters, the thing of aloneness, the idea of being completely alone in the world and couple that with madness, and it's a really potent combination to play.  

For season 3, what would be something different that you would want to play?

I don't know yet.  I haven't really thought it through. When we started talking about Season 2 I had very clear ideas of what I wanted to play.  I had never played an alcoholic before.  I wanted to play a great drunk scene.  I remember I asked Ryan for that.  I wanted to play somebody who was really down and out, and also the whole area of madness.  So those were things that I specifically had in mind when we talked about the character of Sister Jude.  

American Horror Story: Asylum airs Wednesdays at 10 pm ET on FX.

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(Image courtesy of FX.)

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