Jessica Lange's fright-fest in "American Horror Story"

Reuters News

10/4/2011 6:13:49 AM - Reuters News

By Jill Jacobs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Veteran actress Jessica Lange will make her television series debut in "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy's latest project, "American Horror Story."

Lange, 62, will play the role of nosy neighbor Constance, a Southern belle with a mysterious past in "American Horror Story," premiering on Wednesday on the FX network.

Reuters spoke with the Oscar and Emmy winning actress about her upcoming series, haunted houses and her passion for photography.

Q: This is your first television series. Was this something you've thought about doing?

A: "No, I hadn't thought about it, although when Ryan Murphy called initially to discuss the project, I have to say he was extremely seductive. He made more promises than any man I've ever met. And what he has given me so far has been really great. The language is great, the moments are great, and as the episodes become much more emotional, we're into the realm of high drama and tragedy. It's been really exhilarating."

Q: So how did you prepare to play the role of a meddling neighbor shrouded in secrecy?

A: "It's really been an exercise in just allowing the imagination to take flight. Like when a child plays, where their commitment to the moment is just total, but they're making it up as they go along...I think she's really a throwback to another age. Like a kind of hard-boiled dame from the 30's, 40's; that plain spoken character who has no sense of political correctness or how they're going to be perceived and received, but just someone who is sometimes painfully honest, sometimes stupidly honest, but not concerned with all the things that affect our speech and behavior today."

Q: Do you believe in haunted houses?

A: "I've lived in my share of haunted houses, so I believe they exist. Most of them have been fairly benevolent, but some have been troublesome. Glad to say I've never lived in one like this."

Q: How is the house considered a character in the show?

A: "It is like a breathing living entity that holds all these secrets and sorrows and violence and betrayals and all of these enormous human emotions that are often too much for one character. But the house embodies them, the house holds them all."

Q: The scarcity of decent roles for women in Hollywood has been well-documented. How do you deal with this issue?

A: "It's tough...The parts are few and far between. I think the interest in women in film isn't where it was. When I was in my so-called heyday, we were all making great movies about women. I don't see that as much now. Not even in the younger generation. I regret that they're not going to have that same opportunity that we had when we were their age. And then when you're over 30, over 40, 50, then over 60, the fall off rate is fairly precipitous. But that's OK, because in some odd way, when you do have a part like Edith Beale in "Grey Gardens," maybe your work is better."

Q: You've recently taken on a different role on the other side of the camera, in 2008, publishing a collection of black and white pictures. What draws you to photography?

A: "I've been photographing for about 15 years...It's great exercise for me, and to a certain degree the exact opposite of acting. You are unobserved, you are solitary, and it's incredibly private, the opposite of when you're performing in front of a camera or on stage. The anonymity of photographing is one of the things I absolutely love most. I can wander the streets for hours and just see the world."

Q: If you weren't an actor, you'd be...?

A: "I think I would be a gardener or I would have started photography much, much earlier and done it much more completely."

(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Piya Sinha-Roy)