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Interview with Angela Bassett of "American
Horror Story" on FX 11/7/14
I was on this call but didn't get a chance to ask a
question. That happens sometimes... especially if it's a
really big star. I enjoyed listening to her silky voice,
anyway. She does a fabulous job on the show.
FX NETWORK: American Horror Story
November 7, 2014/10:00 a.m. PST
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by.
Welcome to the FX Network American Horror Story: Freak Show
conference call. At this time, all participants are in a
listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question and
answer session and instructions will be given at that time.
(Operator instructions.) As a reminder, todayís conference
is being recorded
I would now like to turn the conference over to our first
speaker, Ms. Roslyn Bibby. Please, go ahead.
Roslyn: Hello, everyone. Thank you for being with us today.
The episodes for Freak Show have been just spectacular and a
real thrill to watch. Today, we are fortunate to have Ms.
Angela Bassett, whoís been turning in an incredible
performance as ďDesiree DuPree.Ē Welcome, Angela.
Angela: Thank you.
Roslyn: Thanks for this opportunity.
Angela: Thank you. Thank you.
Moderator: (Operator instructions.) Our first question today
comes from the line of Gary Nunn with Windy City Times.
Please, go ahead.
Gary: Hi, Angela.
Gary: We wanted to know if your character was based on any
real person in real life.
Angela: Well, of that Iím not sure, but I know that there are
instances of individuals who have this sort of
characteristic. What theyíre called is intersex, today. In
1950s, of course, the term was hermaphrodite, but today the
terminology is considered passť, especially in that
Gary: Yes. What was the makeup process like for you?
Angela: Well, I went to an FX studio, FX office and about,
letís 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 right, you know, 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 itís applied.
Gary: Yes, great. Well, comes visit us in Chicago. You have
tons of fans here. I just wanted to say thanks for the call
Angela: Thank you. I love Chicago.
Moderator: We do have a question from the line of Graham
Flashner with Emmy Magazine. Please, go ahead.
Graham: Hi, Angela. Thank you for doing this.
Graham: Iím writing a big piece on the FX Network, so Iíd
love to know if you could just talk a bit about what itís
like on the show working with FX. You know how you work with
them and also working with Michael Chiklis, who Iíve also
interviewed for this article.
Angela: Oh, well, yes. Well, the work environment is really
wonderful. I mean, itís a hectic, fast paced sort of work
environment, but the cast, the crew are tireless. Theyíre
dedicated. Theyíre talented as heck. We put hours and hours
in. Thereís nothing but support from the network, which itís
evident from being picked up for another season, I believe I
heard, after airing of the first show. Thatís just
indicative of the support that we experience.
Working with Mike has been a dream come true. Of course,
Iíve been a big fan of Chiklis from The Shield days, and The
Commish, and on, and on. Heís a lot of fun. Heís like a big
kid. Heís so encouraging and supportive of; you know, do the
scenes and finish the scenes. He just gives you props like
immediately after, which is beautiful. I love working with
him, kissing up on him.
Graham: Thatís great. Can I also ask you in terms of, the
material is extremely dark, correct?
Angela: You know, thatís what Chiklis says. I go, wait a
minute. Based on the type of shows that youíve done, you
consider this real dark and strange? I think he says dark
and strange. Yes, itís a little dark because itís dealing
with, I guess, how so-called normal folk view those who are
atypical or different. That can get a little bit dark. Iíd
like to think that whatís dark are the secrets of menís
Graham: Can you also talk a littleóthis is an unbelievably
talented ensemble cast, but even Michael said he was
absolutely blown away. He said it was insane. Can you talk
about what thatís like? Itís a very incredible collection of
all-star talent assembled for one show.
Angela: That was one of the prevailing reasons for me joining
the cast. I couldnít believe Iíd get an opportunity to work
with Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates in a lifetime, especially
at the same time. Itís wonderful. In some years, I mean,
well, last year most of my scenes were with Kathy and
Jessica. This year, mostly Chiklis and now Emma Roberts and
the like. Weíll see. Weíll see. Everyone is just an ultimate
professional. We have a good time. We have a good time with
it. We all have an appreciation for this crazy world and the
things that weíre 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. Itís thrilling.
Roslyn: Thank you, Graham. Guys, weíre going to have to limit
to one question. I understand we have over 50 people on this
call. We want to give everyone the opportunity to ask a
question in the timeframe that weíre given. Thank you. Brad,
Moderator: Sure. We have a question from the line of Dave
Walker from the New Orleans Times. Please, go ahead.
Dave: Hi, Angela. Thanks very much for doing the call.
Dave: Can you tell me a little bit about what kind of
interaction you have with folks here in New Orleans about
being on this show and also last season? What kind of things
do people say to you? Do they talk to you about Marie (Laveau)
and now, also about the new character?
Angela: Oh, yes. Yes. I love New Orleans and I love New
Orleans folk. I was really concerned portraying one of the
historical figures of this city whoís so beloved and
revered. I so wanted to get it as right as I could. I was
really happy with the comments that folk would make that I
was the best Marie or they really enjoyed my interpretation
of Marie. They were pleased by and large. I didnít run into
anyone who was displeased, so that made me happy.
A lot of new eyes came to the series based on it being set
here and based on those characters, Marie, Madame LaLaurie,
and the like. This year, you do run into, well, someone just
drove me to the airport and she said, ďOh, I canít watch
horror things.Ē You do from time to time run into folk who
just think, they imagine just because of the title that itís
a really, really scary show. It can be initially, but
thereís something about it that just grabs your imagination
and then you canít wait until the next week, and the next
episode. Letís see, what did they say? Sometimes I do get
comments that itísówhat do they say? Demonic. I said, oh,
no, no. Letís not look at it that way. Letís not look at it
Dave: Thank you.
Moderator: We do have a question from the line of Amanda
Steinmetz from TVGoodness.com. Please, go ahead.
Amanda: Hi, Angela. Thank you for speaking with us this
Angela: Good morning.
Amanda: My question is, we saw the beginnings of a friendship
develop between Desiree and Ethel this week on the episode,
can you tease anything about the possible friendship or will
they team up against Dell?
Angela: Thatís the thing. We really donít know whatís coming
in the subsequent episodes and the subsequent scripts.
Thatís the aspect of this that makes it a little bit
frustrating or difficult for us. I guess we donít have
input, but we might have influence. Weíve played it as good,
good friends. It remains to be seen. Maybe theyíll see that
in the writerís room and itíll take them down a different
road then they had anticipated. That can, and does happen,
and has happened in the past. Weíll see. Iíd like to be
friends with Ethel. We were such archenemies last year for
all eternity as it turned out.
Amanda: Thank you.
Moderator: Now, we do have a question from the line of Mark
Harris from Red Carpet Crash. Please, go ahead.
Mark: Hi, Angela. How are you?
Angela: Hi, pretty good. Thank you.
Mark: You seem to be enjoying the heck out of this role and
last yearís role. I was wondering when you signed on for
this yearís episode for Freak Show did you know what the
part was? What was your reaction when you found out what the
Angela: I didnít have a clue whatsoever what the part might
be, what it might encompass when I signed on. I just knew I
had a great time the previous year, and if that was any
indication, it was going to be a wild ride. 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, ďNow, how am I going to know who I am?Ē
Then you read the stage direction, ďAfrican American woman
in her 40s, hermaphrodite, three breasts, and a
ding-a-ling.Ē Youíre like, oh, my gosh. You immediately
close the pages, and have to walk around, and process that
for a minute. Youíre thinking, ďWhat does that mean?Ē Oh, my
gosh. If they thought I was crazy demonic last year, what
are they going to think this year?
Mark: So then, did you call Ryan up and say, ďoh, my God,
Angela: No. I wasnít scared like that. No. I just knew that
it was absolutely going to be something that I had never
done before. What does an actor crave, but new challenges?
This certainly was going to be one of those.
Mark: Well, thank you very much. Enjoying the heck out of the
role youíre playing so far this season.
Angela: Oh, thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Mark: Bye, bye.
Moderator: We do have a question from the line Diana Price
with Examiner.com. Please, go ahead.
Diana: Thanks for being with us today, Angela. I was just
wondering because this seasonís theme revolves around a
troupe of performers and do you feel like the American
Horror Story cast is sort of a family of performers as you
go from season to season? Do you feel like more of a part of
that now that this is your second time on the show?
Angela: Absolutely. I feel like it is a traveling troupe of
performers. Thatís true. This year I feel more a part of the
family. You know, having been here before, having
established those relationships, not the brand new girl.
Weíve got some other new faces. I feel like Iíve been around
the block at least one time with them. I feel more
comfortable. I was excited. Iím still excited, but I feel
more a part of the family this year, most definitely.
Diana: You get to be the veteran now. Thank you so much.
Moderator: We do have a question from the line of Angela
Dawson with Front Row Features. Please, go ahead.
Angela D.: Hi, Angela.
Angela: Hey, Angela.
Angela D.: I was going to ask you, today it seems like since
we donít have the actual freak shows, we have reality TV. I
was just wondering for you, do you think thereís something
kind of in our human nature where we want to see people that
are kind of worse off than we are and we kind of revel in
that? Do you think thereís some psychological basis for why
people have wanted to see that, apparently, over a long
period of time?
Angela: Our human nature? I think I would tend to agree.
There might be a little of that, where thereís a little
enjoyment in the misfortune of others. Not to their ultimate
detriment, but a little bit of enjoyment for them doing
worse off or getting into trouble; the whole thing about
like, watching a car crash or something, when we slow down,
and rubberneck, and look. I think it might be. There is, I
think, one freak show out in LA, out in Santa Monica, Venice
Beach, or something. I havenít visited there, but Iíve seen
some footage of that. I think they may even have a reality
show themselves. It's more like a tattoo thing and a sword
Angela D.: Okay. Well, thank you very much.
Moderator: We do have a question from the line of Niki Cruz
from The Inquisitr. Please, go ahead.
Niki: Hi, Angela. Thank you so much for talking to all of us.
I was wondering, everyone says how demanding television can
be as an actor with the hours, and this is your second
season on a show with a pretty big ensemble. How does it
feel to try on, I guess, another character? Is there a
learning curve? Is that the challenge within itself?
Angela: As an actor youíre used to putting on characters,
taking them off, becoming someone else, doing your research,
working on that. I think what I found most challenging about
television and shedding one character and having to come up
with another is that thereís this lag time before I get to
actually see what the characters are looking like, or
sounding like, or how theyíre coming across. We start
filming in July and maybe, the first episodeís in October.
As an actor who wonders if youíre getting it right because
you donít have the immediate reaction of the audience just
yet; thatís the little caveat. I canít say itís a real crazy
frustration. If there were something that you had to call
that, that would be it for me.
Niki: Are you pleased with the response so far?
Angela: Yes, absolutely. Definitely.
Niki: Thank you so much.
Moderator: We do have a question from the line of Rachel
Wharton with Televixen. Please, go ahead.
Rachel: Hi, Angela. How are you doing today?
Angela: Iím great. Thank you.
Rachel: My question is about the revelation of your
character from last weekís episode. Iíve really found
Desiree to be very sexually charged. I always kind of
thought that it was a survival mechanism due to her not
feeling like she was 100% a woman, but now that we know that
she is, is that going to change how you approach the
character and how Desiree acts?
Angela: No. I donít think itíll change how I approach or how
she acts. I think sheís comfortable. I think sheís
comfortable with who she is, by and large. I think sheís
just had to find a way to work and survive in a world that
sheís always been reaching for what she calls normalcy, to
have a family, a real family, and children of her own. I
donít think itís going to change and make her more feminine
or whatever it might be. No, I donít. They might write her
so differently, so Iím open. Iím open, but I donít
anticipate itíll change the way that she behaves. I think
what influences that is how sheís treated, how sheís treated
by others. [Indiscernible.]
Rachel: Do you think she might demand a different kind of
treatment now? I guess, especially from Dell?
Angela: Well, sheís walked out on him. She does demand a
different kind of treatment. I guess honesty. Honesty for
one, but thatís just not a desire of her as a freak, itís
just desire for her as a human being.
Rachel: Awesome. Thank you very much.
Moderator: We do have a question from the line of Taylor
Ferber with VH1. Please, go ahead.
Taylor: Hi, Angela.
Taylor: Iím such a huge fan of yours.
Angela: Thank you.
Taylor: I just wanted to ask about this past weekís episode.
We saw your character, actually from this season and last
season, kind of get really intimate for the first time, and
your scene with Evan Peters, which you both acted
beautifully. Would you say that that was awkward at all on
set? How was it shooting that?
Angela: Well, itís not too awkward. Heís a cute a little boy,
whoís engaged. No, it wasnít too awkward. I mean, youíre
playing characters. Heís quite a professional. I think the
most awkward part of it was he was so emotional, and just
tears, and things coming out of oneís nostrils. I think that
was the most awkward part, but sexually, it wasnít.
Taylor: Okay, well, it was awesome. You guys are great and
come visit us in New York City soon.
Angela: I would love to. Thank you.
Taylor: Thank you.
Moderator: We do have a question from the line of Robin
Gandyce with MovieHole.net. Please, go ahead.
Robin: Hi, Angela. Thank you so much for speaking with us
Angela: Hi, thank you.
Robin: I was curious to know, how does your character view
Michael Chiklisí character Dell? Does she really see good in
him in spite of him being this bully or does she just see a
monster? Does that conflict with how you as an actress view
Angela: Iím sorry, say that again. I couldnít follow.
Robin: Iím sorry.
Robin: How does your character view Michael Chiklis? Do you
think that she really sees the good in him in spite of him
being like this bully, this monster? Or does she him as a
Angela: Yes. I think she did find someone, you know, that
there was a time when he was kind, and good to her, and
believed in her, and made her feel valuable and special. I
think that there have been moments over those years when
theyíve been together where heís crossed the line with her
in his speak, and his speech, and the things that he says.
Heís begged for forgiveness. Itís that same old thing
sometimes it happens, when people are abusive physically. I
think thereís been maybe some emotional abuse throughout the
years, but always never crossing the line, and completely
crossing the line, or sheís weighing if I give this up, what
do I lose? Can I move on from this? Can we move on from
this? Can we remain together?
I think there has come a point in last weekís episode where
he crossed the line of no return. She thought she knew who
he was, but she found out she was living with the enemy.
Thereís something about him that was dishonest and disloyal.
They were there for each other. They told each other their
painful truth. I think he crossed the line. Sometimes that
happens and you canít go back. You canít make yourself go
Robin: Thank you very much.
Moderator: We do have a question from the line of Kyle Wilson
with Nerd Repository. Please, go ahead.
Kyle: Hey, Angela. Great to talk to you. One of the things on
the show, clowns particularly, scare everybody at the outlet
that I work for. I wanted to know, is there anything that
freaked you out on the show, this season or last, that just
kind of got to you?
Angela: Oh, freaked me out? 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 didnít 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 toó
Angela: óthat point. That was a lot for me. That made me very
sad. I guess not freak out, but really, really sad.
Kyle: Yes, it was very haunting. That was a big twist moment
for me. I appreciate it. Thanks a lot.
Angela: Thank you.
Moderator: We do have a question from the line of Jamie Blynn
with US Weekly. Please, go ahead.
Jamie: Hi, Angela. How are you?
Angela: Wonderful. Thank you.
Jamie: I wanted to know, whatís the process that turned you
into Desiree? How does she get that third breast? How long
does it take to put on?
Angela: Well, I go in. I go into my regular makeup artist.
She applies the appliance to me, so that itís there
basically. Then I go over to the special effects trailer
where her husband makes sure the edges and everything sort
of blend seamlessly. I guess I can say that. From there, he
and the other special effects gentlemen will begin to apply
the paint. Theyíll start with brown. They spray it on.
Theyíll start with the brown. Theyíll go to the red, and
yellow, and green. Itís amazing these colors and undertones
that they claim you possess. Youíre like, oh, those are
weird, weird colors. Then heíll take a photograph of it to
make sure that it appears as if itís my own and based on
that heíll maybe go in, and do so more painting, and carry
Jamie: What a great team.
Angela: Then I, you know? Thatís it. 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.
Jamie: What was your initial reaction when you first tried on
Angela: Well, I was glad it wasnít on my face. Iím
claustrophobic. Itís amazing. You can just a little after
about 14 hours of it being on. The initial appliance was
extremely heavy. I think it was made of silicon. It started
out fine, but after about hour number 12 and on it became
hot and heavy. I believe it started sagging, which Iím 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 itís the difference of
night and day. Still after about 12 hours that internal
heat, you begin to sweat. You begin to itch. You canít
really provide relief because you canít get to yourself, you
Angela: Youíre scratching foam. Itís much lighter. Itís much
more bearable. I guess Iíve grown accustomed.
Jamie: Wonderful. Thank you so much.
Roslyn: Brad, we have time for two more questions.
Brad: Okay. We do have a question from the line of Candice
Brock with toofab. Please, go ahead.
Candice: Hi, Angela.
Angela: Hi there.
Candice: Okay, so Ryan Murphy says that the seasons are all
connected. Any idea how Desiree or Marie will both fit into
the larger picture?
Angela: Not one, nor have I considered it. Is that right? The
only connection I was able to make was Pepper from Season 2
to Season 4. No, I havenít thought about that. That gives me
something to think about. Have you?
Candice: No, I havenít, but I am so excited to see how
everything connects and intertwines. I think weíll be all in
for a very big surprise.
Angela: Okay. Sounds like a great college term paper to me.
Brad: Then our final question comes from the line of Brittany
Lovely with Hypable.com.
Brittany: Hi, Angela. Thank you for speaking with us today.
Angela: Youíre welcome, honey.
Brittany: My question isóthereís a lot of really heavy
material going on throughout every story line and your
character, especially the last season and this season, is
responsible for delivering a lot of humorous lines that kind
of break up the episodeís really heavier moments. My
question was, since youíre dealing with such dark material
on set for 14 hours a day or so, are there any particular
people behind the scenes that provide a little bit of levity
to get you through those heavier scenes?
Angela: Letís see, well, Sarah Paulson can make me laugh
really easy, so can Gabby when sheís around. I havenít
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. Sheís pretty funny.
Brittany: Thatís great. Thank you so much.
Roslyn: Again, everyone thank you foró
Angela: Iím happy you think I provide some levity.
Roslyn: Iím sorry. Angela, did you want to restate that last
part? I think I was talking over you.
Angela: Oh, no. Thatís okay. I said Iím glad she thinks that
Iím kind of funny. Iím always the serious one. Iím glad to
provide some levity.
Roslyn: Well, okay. Again, everyone, thanks for being here.
Angela, thank you and have a great day of shooting. I know
youíve got to jump. American Horror Story airs on Wednesdays
at 10 p.m. and transcripts from this call will be available
24 to 48 hours and weíll send to those who request it. If
you have any other questions about the show, please let me
know. Iím happy to help. Have a great weekend, everybody.
Angela: You, too.
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude your
conference for today. Thank you for your participation and
for using the AT&T Executive TeleConference Service. You may
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