‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ Star Kathy Bates Talks Ethel’s Fate, the Supernatural and More!

(SPOILERS AHEAD!) American Horror Story: Freak Show star Kathy Bates may have already met her untimely end this season as the heavily-accented, kind-hearted, cancer-stricken Ethel Darling, but if she has any say, this won’t be her last appearance in the series in general.

The talented actress recently shared her feelings on being a member of the Horror Story cast, what it’s been like working closely with Michael Chiklis and Evan Peters, and whether or not she herself believes in the supernatural.

Ethel met an untimely demise at the hands of Elsa last week, so we asked Kathy how far in advance she learned her character would lose her head…again. “You know, I really can’t remember,” said Bates. “Somebody asked me that the other day. They must have told me, and then I read it in the script. I thought, okay, there it is in black and white. I thought, well, it’s been a good run and we’ll see what happens next; you never know with American Horror Story.” Hmmm, that last bit sounds like there could be a possibility for an Ethel return, in flashbacks or some other form.

When Ethel was alive, she shared many scenes with her ex-husband Dell Toledo, played by Michael Chiklis, and her son Jimmy Darling, played by AHS alum Evan Peters, and Kathy couldn’t help but gush about filming with her talented co-stars. “Well, I’ve shot a lot with Evan. I don’t know what it is, but I always forget my lines when I’m working with him. I don’t know if it’s because he’s so cute or when I just get lost in his eyes. When you look into his eyes, working with him, he’s just so real; it just knocks me for a loop.” With regards to Michael, Bates stated, “Michael and I just have a solidity there that I’ve appreciated with him. He’s a sweetheart of a man, and just the opposite of what he looks like. I’ve enjoyed that. I felt like I’ve worked with him before somehow.”

One of the reasons audiences are so attracted to American Horror Story is that the show has a way of bringing the deepest, darkest issues in society to the forefront and shining a bright spotlight on them. Taboo topics such as incest, rape, homophobia and more have already been touched upon throughout the series, so when Kathy was asked what subject matter she’d like to see tackled, she replied, “Self-image.” She explained, “How we worship beauty and how to explore that issue. Not necessarily, it could be modern day, it go across the decades; but to go to bed a Venus and then come back and have to deal with cellulite; something like that. They would have to come out in the world and be a size 14 instead of a size 2 and live with that reality and how that changes people’s view of you. [The show’s creator Ryan Murphy has] explored ageism last year a lot and in Jessica’s character this year. I remember years and years ago having dinner with Diane Keaton, and she said, ‘After 40, you become invisible.’ Jessica was saying the same thing the other night at this award thing that she received. She was the only woman to receive the Kirk Douglas Award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival; it’s all been men.

“She remarked that when she saw her film clips she could see that at about age 40 the films got fewer and far between, especially for leading ladies. I would love to see some exploration of that, and vice versa; what would it be like it you woke up and you were a Venus and having to deal with everybody’s attention and men coming onto you constantly and what that might be like. It’s always, maybe the grass is greener.” (That actually sounds like an interesting concept. I’d certainly tune in for a season that took so much of the narcissism that exists in this world and turned it on its head.)

American Horror Story usually includes an element of supernatural horror along with the real life horror it portrays, and as it turns out, Kathy does believe that there are forces out there that we may not necessarily be able to explain, thanks to experiences with her dearly departed Yorkie. “Well, my beloved Yorkie, Griffin died. He was a rescue, and he was just my heart dog. When he passed away, I asked him to wait for me. This is before I had gotten another couple of puppies, but I’d feel him jump up on the bed.

That wasn’t her only experience with Griffin however. “I was looking around to get another dog after him. At first I wasn’t sure and then we picked up a rescue and I brought him home and walked into the bedroom and Griffin’s picture fell off the mantelpiece. It was like he was saying, not here, not now. I did end up getting two puppies after my operation. I think he’s moved over to my niece, Linda, who he adored. Often times she’ll tell me that she’ll be driving and he’ll either be in the back seat or the passenger’s seat and she’ll just catch a glimpse of him and he’s there. I think he’s still hanging around, but he may be a little put out with me because I’ve got these other dogs.”

Now that Kathy’s second season on American Horror Story has come to an end (possibly), you know what that means….time to start asking about whether or not she’ll be back for season 5! “I really hope so!” said the star. “It’s just such a unique situation to be in as an actor for television that you’ve got a whole new character to create for the next year. I think Ryan really appreciates older actresses …He’s rejuvenated our careers, and he’s put us in front of the public at our best. We have a younger fan base now, and that’s all the reasons why I would come back. It’s a wonderful opportunity, and I can’t wait to hear what the next part he might propose would be.” Neither can we!

You can catch the newest episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show tonight at 10pm ET, only on FX. I’ll be live-tweeting the episode like I do every week, so join me to chat (@TheJasmineAlyce)!

Photo Credit: FX


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