Whether it's explored secret-haunted suburbs, the heart of madness, or witches at war, American Horror Story has been anchored by a consistent core cast over three seasons. This central group includes Frances Conroy (How I Met Your Mother), Sarah Paulson (12 Years a Slave), Evan Peters (X-Men: Days of Future Past), and Lily Rabe (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay).
However, easily the most recognizable member of American Horror Story's cast is Jessica Lange (Grey Gardens), who has received many plaudits for her work on the ensemble series. Unfortunately, it looks as if Lange has decided to part ways with American Horror Story – but only after its recently announced fourth season.
Entertainment Weekly has shared the scoop that Lange will depart American Horror Story at the close of its fourth season. Lange cited a desire for more personal time as the primary reason for leaving the commitment-heavy production.
“It ends up being a lot of time during the year being committed to something... I haven’t done that for a long time. It’s like doing a stage play between the rehearsal and the run. This is a 6-month commitment every year. That will be four years in a row. I want to have more time to myself I guess. Once it’s over and I have a full year ahead of me with nothing to do, who knows? It might not have been the best decision. But I think four years doing something is a sufficient amount of time.”
In the same EW piece, American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy made it clear that Lange will be given a fittingly over-the-top final role in season 4. He also dropped vague hints as to this upcoming season's content, mentioning that (like season 2) it will be a period piece.
While fans of American Horror Story will surely be sorry to see Lange go, her departure is far enough off that it's hardly an overwhelming issue . . . for now. After all (though it is unlikely to be otherwise) one must wonder whether there will even be a season 5 of American Horror Story.
Given the show's heretofore skillful ability to craft twisting, complex narratives centered on sprawling ensemble casts, American Horror Story will no doubt adapt to Lange's loss between seasons. In this way, American Horror Story could show off its true strength as an annual anthology – kept consistent by creative teams and tone, but able to shift enough between larger stories that it could conceivably be a very long-term prospect. In this sense, Lange's departure could be as much a creative boon as it is a handicap.
American Horror Story: Coven continues its horrifying tale on FX on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST.