This story about Jessica Lange first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
Jessica Lange made her long-awaited return to Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story” last year, after leaving the FX anthology series at the end of its fourth season in 2015. And while Lange — a fan favorite in the franchise — hadn’t planned on coming back to the show, she couldn’t resist the opportunity to reprise her Season 1 role as failed actress-turned murderer Constance Langdon.
Because “Apocalypse” brought back characters and story lines from the “Murder House” and “Coven” seasons, it pushed “AHS” from the Emmys’ limited series to drama series categories.
To bring her back, she added, Murphy made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
“It was like all conversations with Ryan,” Lange said. “He is extremely … Can I use the word seductive? He knows exactly what to say to whom. I think he knows me so well by now that he hits all the key phrases right off the bat. So, for instance, he’s talking about the relationship with the children and a 10-page monologue, the drunkenness and the death. He hits all the scenes that would make it interesting for me to come back to play this character. And he usually catches me when I’m sitting out here in the middle of nowhere, doing nothing and I think, ‘Oh, yeah, maybe I should work. Maybe I shouldn’t quit quite yet.’ That’s how it happens. He knows what I like to do and what appeals to me as an actor to play.”
And by returning to her role as Constance — the mother of Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) and grandmother to his son, Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), who happens to be the Antichrist himself — Lange got to die as Constance, in a scene that featured her seeing her dead children while slipping slowly toward an overdose.
“To play a part like that, to play a scene like that, I find deliriously fun because it’s total abandon,” Lange said. “There’s no reason, there’s no logic. It’s just about the physical and emotional. So the idea that she is basically OD’ing and having these — are they visions, her children come to see her? It was my favorite scene to shoot, because there is a physical abandon to it that I always like to investigate.”
Lange said she had to watch a few episodes from “Murder House” to get back into character, but that it came naturally. “To find her mannerisms and her voice, it’s amazing how quickly that comes back,” she said. “It’s stored somewhere in your psyche or your marrow. It’s funny, but once you’ve played a part there’s something that’s left inside. And as soon as you reimagine it, it’s like it never left you.”
Read more from the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.