Returning shows can say they’re starting again new, but “American Horror Story” can claim that literally.
Executive producer Ryan Murphy’s eerie-by-design FX series has told a different story with different characters each season, and it reboots itself again as its fourth round — “American Horror Story: Freak Show” — begins Wednesday (Oct. 8).
The new subtitle also is literal, since the drama revolves around an early-1950s troupe of unusual performers including the smallest woman in the world, played by Jyoti Amge … who actually has that title in the Guinness Book of World Records. Michael Chiklis, returning to FX after his Emmy-winning-run on “The Shield,” also joins the cast as a strongman.
His character has past and present wives, respectively played by recent Emmy recipient Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett, both returning from last year’s “American Horror Story: Coven” in new roles. Emmy-honored again in August for her work on the series, founding cast member Jessica Lange also is back, as is Evan Peters (now as Chiklis’ son, who’s also in the freak show).
Apologetic for being unable to delve into “Freak Show” in much detail, secrecy being standard operating procedure for “American Horror Story,” Chiklis does report he was compelled to refine his physique for it.
“The strongmen in the shows then,” he tells Zap2it, “were innately powerful guys. They were just thick, burly guys who didn’t have sports medicine or performance-enhancing drugs, and I just wanted to make sure the look was right. I hit the gym hard for the last few months and lost about 35 lbs., and I’m glad I did because it’s been very good for my life, too.”
Filming “Freak Show” in New Orleans (as “Coven” was) though it’s set in Florida, Chiklis is proud to be in what he terms a “murderers’ row” of actors: “Every time I make an appearance or give any kind of a performance, I’m nervous … but add to that such incredible, extraordinary talents on the set, and you just want to bring your best game.”
The first scene Chiklis shot was with Lange and Bassett, “and both of those women are extremely impressive,” he confirms. “They’re powerful presences, and they’re prepared and ready to go. The bar is high, but this is what we all do, and I have to say I’ve been having a lot of fun with them.”
Check out this preview of “American Horror Story: Freak Show” now: