The fall of 2013 will see a wide array of new releases for television, along with the return of FX’s horror anthology series, American Horror Story. The storyline of season 3 – to be called American Horror Story: Coven – is still largely wrapped in mystery, with the majority of the news to date dealing with additions to the ever-impressive cast.
Now, however, we also have a tantalizing set of details about the third season’s characters. First though, a new teaser trailer for Season 3 has been released: an unsettling eighteen seconds showing us briefly how a coven of witches will handle detention, with a woman’s voice singing the first line of the song “House of the Rising Sun,” There is a house in New Orleans... Watch it above.
During an American Horror Story panel at the Television Critics’ Association summer press tour, executive producer Tim Minear joined stars Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett in providing new details about their characters for Season 3, which has just started filming in New Orleans.
First up, returning star Jessica Lange will be playing a witch named Fiona. Here are her remarks about her character:
“Some of us play witches, some of us play historical characters. I do play a witch. We move back and forth in time. It encompasses a lot of different stories. I’ve shot two days so far, one day entrances and exits, the other day a scene. I don’t know who the character is yet. It comes in little dribs and drabs.”
Kathy Bates joins the cast this season, and while we knew Bates would be Lange’s character’s nemesis somehow, now we know she’ll be playing a historical character, Madame LaLurie, “a Louisiana-born socialite and serial killer who kept slaves bound in her home.” Bates already played a weirdly similar character as the romance-author-imprisoning Annie Wilkes in Misery (for which she won an Oscar).
Angela Bassett is also a new addition to the cast and plays a character based on the legendary Marie Laveau, a Creole voodoo practitioner who styled herself a priestess and developed an underground multiracial following.
Besides noting that many of the New Orleans locals have come forward with plenty of information about Laveau (her daughter, known as Marie Laveau II, also became widely known and even feared in the community), Bassett had this to say:
“It’s been interesting being in New Orleans, there’s such a regard and respect for who she was. She was a woman in 1801 who lives to be 80 years old, who is a very influential person in the city. My character is based loosely on her.”
Sarah Paulson, who played Lana Winters, the reporter who ends up committed in Season 2, returns to play Cordelia, daughter to Jessica Lange’s character. Executive Producer Tim Minear noted that this season will touch on the oppression of minorities, and drew a connection between mothers and daughters:
“Within that idea, the idea of minority groups going after each other and doing the work of the larger culture for the larger culture [will be explored]. While there is a strong feminist theme that runs throughout Coven this year, there are also themes of race, oppression and there is a very strong theme of family, specifically mothers and daughters.”
While the subtitle Coven automatically conjures up images of witches and witchcraft, fans might also have assumed it would be set around Salem, Massachusetts, site of the famed witch trials of the 17th century. We know now that it’s set in New Orleans, but Minear also said Salem witches will flee to the South during the season, also noting that “there are two kinds of witches in the world.” There are no further details on what exactly that means.
After the thoroughly grim Season 2 – which despite throwing in “ghosts, demons, mutants, aliens, musical numbers, a killer Santa, the Black Dahlia and a Nazi” still lacked the first season’s sleazy, campy charm – Minear said to expect Coven to be “more fun,” stating:
“This year is a drama but there is a lot of humor, and we are embracing a kind of velocity and fun with the series. It’s not the same as it was the past two years, but I think it can be more fun for the audience.”
The revelation of Bates’ character gives us a good idea of the time period this time around: somewhere between 1775 and 1842, the birth and death year of LaLurie, respectively. Marie Laveau also lived during this period, which could place the series comfortably within the early 19th century. Lange’s comments about jumping back and forth through time is a signal that the audience should once again expect the out of nowhere plot twists the show has become infamous for.
American Horror Story: Coven premieres in the fall of 2013 on FX.