‘American Horror Story’: Is Kathy Bates the New Jessica Lange?

Ben Mueller | Nov 1, 2013

Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates is stealing the show on FX’s sweepingly successful third season of American Horror Story: Coven. She kicks off the season with a very heinous bang playing the fictionalized version of real-life Delphine LaLaurie, notorious for the murder and torture of her slaves in New Orleans. But before we ever saw Bates’s blood-soaked face, the announcement of her casting seemed to parallel series favorite Jessica Lange, who took home an Emmy for her role in season one. Both women are in their 60s (their ages just one year apart) and both have lead wildly successful careers. So, what is it with series creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s love for the more mature ladies?

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First off, it’s not to say that either actress needed buttressing of their lengthy, impressive acting résumés. Yet, you may be surprised to know that before discussing her American Horror Story debut, Bates’s career was at loose ends. She told The Huffington Post that NBC had recently canceled Harry’s Law—a legal drama in which she starred—after just two seasons. The actress was also recovering from a double mastectomy. “I wasn’t really sure where to put my foot next in the business,” Bates said.

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As luck would have it, the actress is great friends with Jessica Lange. The two actresses initally bonded while filming Men Don’t Leave back in 1990 and again in 2006′s poorly recieved Bonneville. Lange made mention of Bates to Ryan Murphy—”She never misses an episode,” she told him—and after Murphy pitched the role that she could fill, Bates called him back within 45 minutes to say she was in. The rest is gory, slightly inaccurate and sensationalized history.

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Although it’s usually just a burst of PR and a bit of hooey when an actor announces their “retirement,” Lange told the Los Angeles Times last week that she plans on winding down her acting career and sees only one more season of AHS left in her. Bates, on the other hand, confirmed a year and a half ago that she was not planning on retiring any time soon (although she was cheerleading a bit before Harry’s Law was canceled). We may be witnessing a passing of thetorch, from one scary talented lady to the next. Afterall, American Horror Story—and horror in general—always needs a seasoned lady to fill the shoes of a haggy but sultry type. If so, the exchange is in a friendly and personal way that you may not see that often—especially from a show that’s really into violent sex-deaths. Judging from Bates’s performance so far, if this switcheroo is actually going down, it gets a big old CableTV seal of approval.


How is Kathy Bates doing on AHS? What are your favorite moments so far? Share in the comments below!

 

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