Hypable had the opportunity to speak with AHS: Freak Show star Angela Bassett! Find out what she had to say about working on the show and what it’s like wearing that prosthetic!
Angela Bassett has five episodes and a season under her belt as an actress on American Horror Story. First introduced to viewers last year as the immortal Voodoo hairdresser, Marie Laveau, in her sophomore season, Bassett plays Desiree Dupree, a hermaphrodite with an extra breast who joins Elsa Mars’ freak show with her husband.
On a conference call with many news outlets, Angela Bassett answered all your burning questions, including one from Hypable.com!
On the makeup process:
Contrary to what each episode of Freak Show portrays, Bassett does not naturally have an extra breast. Coming up with a functional prosthetic to wear for over 12 hours per day was only one step of the process. Bassett elaborates on the initial fitting, saying, “I went to an FX studio, FX office and about, let’s see; I think it was three women and three men that took to cast a mold of my chest area and then attempt to get the color, the tone, that sort of thing. Of course, the tone is very difficult and it still takes about 30, 40 minutes to paint it once it’s applied.”
But once the prosthetic was made, there were a few problems the team ran into! “The initial appliance was extremely heavy. I think it was made of silicon. It started out fine, but after about hour it became hot and heavy. I believe it started sagging, which I’m like, what is the point of having three sagging breasts? No, this is not good. They reworked it and made it out of foam, which I was so, so pleased about because it’s the difference of night and day.”
Splitting her mornings between a tag team husband and wife and the special effects team, the entire process takes about an hour. So what does Bassett do to pass the time in the makeup chair? “It takes maybe from start to finish about an hour, just enough time to check out a Netflix episode of Orange is the New Black or something.”
On her relationship with her cast mates:
Though this is only Bassett’s second season with the AHS company, but her performances on the show add a flare that kicks the series acting prestige up another notch.
“I feel like I’ve been around the block at least one time with them. I feel more comfortable. I was excited. I’m still excited, but I feel more a part of the family this year.”
Looking back to her freshman season, she mentions the decision to join Coven largely had to do with the opportunities that came with the role. “That was one of the prevailing reasons for me joining the cast,” she says. “I couldn’t believe I’d get an opportunity to work with Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates in a lifetime, especially at the same time.” Joining her for round two is newcomers, Michael Chiklis, someone with whom she shares a majority of her screen time.
“Working with Mike has been a dream come true. Of course, I’ve been a big fan of Chiklis from The Shield days. He’s a lot of fun. He’s like a big kid. He’s so encouraging and supportive. He just gives you props like immediately after, which is beautiful,” she says of her co-star.
In response to Hypable’s suggestion that Bassett often provides a bit of levity to the darker situations her character winds up in, she offered a bit more insight into the humor that lurks behind the scenes. “Sarah Paulson can make me laugh really easy, so can Gabby when she’s around. I haven’t gotten the opportunity to spend any time with her this year. But, Sarah is pretty funny to me. Michael is light-hearted. Emma is pretty crazy, especially last night, it was she and I till midnight outdoors in the cold. She’s pretty funny.”
To most viewers, the material of Freak Show may be considered “dark.” Bassett, however, has a different opinion of where the darkness lies. “I’d like to think that what’s dark are the secrets of men’s hearts; envy.”
On working in Ryan Murphy’s landscape:
There is a lot of trust placed on a show’s creator to make the best possible story that brings out the strengths of everyone involved. But how about when she took this role without knowing all the details? Bassett recalls the first moment she read the script, “I think it was about two weeks before I was scheduled to come down to start shooting that I got the, you know, the hot off the press script. I sat down to read it to see and I remember wondering, ‘Now, how am I going to know who I am?’ Then you read the stage direction, ‘African American woman in her 40s, hermaphrodite, three breasts, and a ding-a-ling.’ You’re like, oh, my gosh.”
Bassett is not immune to the affects of the stories that we watch week in and week out. When asked to speak of the material she chose that of Twisty’s fate saying, “I think, well, when he took that mask off, and I saw where he had put a gun in his mouth, and shot half his face off, you know? The way the little people treated him, which spurred him on to do that. I didn’t like that. That sort of freaked me out, just how people treat one another. He was innocent in his mind, so taking advantage of that. Pushing him to that point.That was a lot for me. That made me very sad. I guess not freak out, but really, really sad.”
Her own character, Desiree Dupree, has a whirlwind of changes coming her way as the season approaches the midway mark. At the close of last week’s episode, Desiree discovered that the identity she carried her entire life, as a hermaphrodite, was not the biological case.
Moving froward with the role from there, Bassett says that it will not change how she plays the character. “I think she’s comfortable. I think she’s just had to find a way to work and survive in a world that she’s always been reaching for what she calls normalcy, to have a family, a real family, and children of her own. I don’t think it’s going to change and make her more feminine or whatever it might be. No, I don’t. They might write her so differently, so I’m open. But I don’t anticipate it’ll change the way that she behaves.”
Will we see her in future seasons?
Though not specifically asked if she is set TO return for season 5, Bassett’s enthusiasm certainly seems promising for future appearances should she be asked!
She says, “Everyone is just an ultimate professional. We all have an appreciation for this crazy world and the things that we’re asked to do. It stretches us and grows us. The fact that we get to come back year after year and they fashion some completely new insanity for us to play out is a plus. It’s thrilling.”
Sounds promising to us!
Watch AHS: Freak Show episode 6, “Bullseye,” tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET on FX.