Here’s Your Handy Guide To Who Plays Who In ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’

As you’re probably aware by now, American Horror Story: Freak Show centers on a group of freaks who arrive in the small town of Jupiter, Florida, led by Jessica Lange’s character. Previously, we got a glimpse of the characters via the official series poster as well as some information garnered from “leaked” call sheets. But now Entertainment Weekly has released an entire TV preview in cooperation with Ryan Murphy and the cast to learn more at length details about the roles each of these characters will be playing. So I thought I’d break the whole thing down for you character by character in this convenient, easily digestible guide.

Jessica Lange — Lange will play the character of Elsa, a former German cabaret star who both formed the freak show troupe and leads them.

“My character is very manipulative,” says Lange. “She understands what’s needed and she provides it. However the thing I want to be very clear that Elsa really loves these people. She truly cares for them in her own selfish narcissistic way. It’s not just exploitation.”

Sarah Paulson — To boost her show’s attendance, Elsa recruits the two-headed conjoined twins Bette and Dot. According to Sarah Paulson, the two personalities are very different but “It’s not as simple as nice and evil.”

Kathy Bates — Bates will play bearded lady Ethel, who serves as Elsa’s “right-hand woman” and helps run the camp of freaks. Ryan Murphy says:

“She helps run the camp, and she’s sort of the guardian of the law. She had a real tragedy in that she was a real circus star in the ‘20s and 30s and then she had her baby and she became a down-and-out drunk, and Elsa saved her.”

Evan Peters — Peters will play the character Jimmy, who we already knew is Ethel’s son, who has lobster hands. I guess once you know, you can see it in the image but it wasn’t that obvious before.

Michael Chiklis — Michael Chiklis is playing Dell Toledo, Ethel’s ex-husband and Jimmy’s father, who is a “strongman on the run from the law.” When Dell arrives at camp, Jimmy is the alpha male and the two will engage in a power struggle of sorts. Sounds like one of those peeing races to me.

Angela Bassett — Three boobs, all you need to know. Alright, her character plays Dell’s new wife, Desiree Dupress. Bassett is said to have worn a prosthetic for the role that covered her entire chest.

“Angela likes to flash them,” jokes Paulson. “She’s like, ‘Look at my 3 boobs!’”


Frances Conroy — She’ll be starring as a yet-to-be-named wealthy woman whose son, played by Masters of Sex actor Finn Whitrock, wants to join the freak show. Kid’s gotta have a dream.

Emma Roberts / Denis O’Hare — These two will be playing “a pair of con artists,” but nothing more is known about their characters.

John Carroll Lynch — He’ll be playing the villain clown named “Twisty the Clown.” Nope, nothing serial killer-sounding about that name. Twisty is a retired murderer/clown living in Jupiter who is not amused with the arrival of the freak show.

“He’s out to make their lives a living hell,” explains Murphy. “He’s wearing a mask on the lower part of his face and there comes a point in the season where takes the mask off and when you see what’s under you will faint in terror.”

So basically this teaser, then?

Gabourey Sidibe — Sidibe will be playing a socialite who returns to Jupiter when her mother, played by Patti LaBelle, goes missing. I loved her attitude in Coven and I think a socialite role will suit her well.

Wes Bentley — The Hunger Games star will be appearing in the usual American Horror Story two-part Halloween episode (I think they’ve done them every season now, haven’t they?) playing Edward Mordrake, a notorious horror trope.

“He is a very famous horror myth,” explains Murphy. “It was a man with two faces. A normal face and then a face on the back of his head that would whisper evil things and force the forward-facing entity to commit horrible crimes.”

Because I guess a murdering clown with a horrifying face wasn’t enough? Who are we kidding, it’s American Horror Story, OF COURSE having one main villain isn’t enough. So anyway, there you go. A couple more big previews and reveals like this, and you might be able to just skip out watching altogether.