Being one person playing conjoined twins can understandably be a heady experience. For Sarah Paulson, who had just such a task in the fourth installment of “American Horror Story,” it brought out the tears too.
Paulson dropped by the L.A. Times to discuss her double-duty role in last season’s setup of “American Horror Story” -- the one known as “Freak Show” -- and spoke of the challenge in trying to control all the moving parts involved in playing conjoined sisters and circus performers Bette and Dot Tattler.
“I did cry -- I had a breakdown one day on set,” Paulson said of a scene she shot with Kathy Bates, in which she has to throw an object at her.
“I had to throw a roll with my right hand at Kathy while playing Bette, who was on the left side. I had to throw the roll at Kathy and then I go down and write with my right hand as Dot, but Bette was playing the scene ... [Ryan] took me for a walk around the stage and was like, ‘no one has ever done this before. No one has ever done what we’re trying to do.’”
Paulson revealed, though, that she did get in touch with someone who could empathize with her situation: “Orphan Black’s” everywoman Tatiana Maslany, who plays multiple clones.
“I actually had a conversation with Tatiana Maslany at Comic-Con right before we started ‘Freak Show,’” Paulson said. “We emailed a little bit. I just said, ‘This is really scary.’ She didn’t really offer me tips, but she gave me a lot of solidarity and sort of said, ‘It will be the most rewarding thing you do, but it’s going to be really hard.’ And it was. And it is.”
It turned out to be rewarding in other ways: Paulson nabbed herself an Emmy nomination for supporting actress in a limited series or movie for her portrayal.
And the double duty, she said, has helped ease her into her current situation: She’s shooting another Murphy anthology creation, “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson,” in which she plays prosecutor Marcia Clarke, while also shooting the next “American Horror Story” season, titled “Hotel.” This time around, she’s playing a drug addict named Sally.
The season has already caused a flurry with the announcement that pop star Lady Gaga has joined the cast. Paulson said her first introduction was a bit of a drive-by.
“I had a really lovely encounter with her yesterday when I couldn’t figure out how to park my car,” Paulson said.
“American Horror Story” co-creator Brad Falchuk was talking to the songstress when Paulson pulled up, lost about whether she was on the “American Horror Story” set or the “American Crime Story” set -- we’d be confused too!
“This vision in a turban in this outfit was like, ‘Hiiiiii!’” Paulson recalled. “I was so excited that I forgot to put my car in park.”
To hear more about the encounter, or to find out what five words Paulson would use to describe the forthcoming season of “American Horror Story” -- or, even better, to hear her sing a bit -- check out the video above.
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