LOS ANGELES — Hollywood rolled out the red carpet on Sunday for the premiere of "Freak Show," the fourth season of the FX network's "American Horror Story" series.
Debuting Wednesday, this "AHS" chapter set in Jupiter, Florida, in 1952 revolves around one of the last touring companies of physically different humans. The attraction includes a bearded lady, a woman with two heads and another with three breasts.
The problem is that business is bad, forcing owner Elsa Mars (portrayed by Jessica Lange) to go to great lengths to assure that the show goes on.
The show's co-creator Ryan Murphy said Lange came up with the concept.
"I think back in season one, she said, 'We've got to do carnival, freak shows,' and she kept sending me books," he said.
With his creative partner Brad Falchuk, Murphy eventually embraced the idea. He wanted the show to imbue a spooky, early 1950s sci-fi feel, and he wanted to give Sarah Paulson an impossible role.
She plays the characters of Bette and Dot Tattler, conjoined twins who may be the star attraction that Elsa's show desperately needs.
Paulson called the roles "the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life."
She said the characters' heads can't turn to look into each other's eyes.
"And that's a hard thing to do, to act with yourself," Paulson explained. "I like to act looking at others' faces, like Kathy Bates'."
The premiere attracted almost all members of the large "AHS" ensemble, including cast members who are physically different in real life. They include the 2-foot tall Jyoti Amge, the world's smallest living woman, and Erika Ervin, who, at 6-feet 8-inches, is dubbed "the world's tallest professional model" by Guinness World Records.
And yet there's more to "Freak Show" than physical appearance.
"I have always felt like a freak, from two years of age on," explained the openly gay Murphy. "It really is a story of prejudice. And it is a story about people who are not the norm ... who just want to be appreciated and seen for who they are inside and outside."
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