Jessica Lange won an Emmy for her performance on "American Horror Story's" first season and in the FX's series second season, "Asylum," she could win gold again for her portrayal as the alcoholic Sister Jude who found religion after a hit-and-run and now runs the rehabilitative ward at Briarcliff.
Lange spoke with a group of reporters on Friday about Sister Jude's descent into madness, her feelings about Season 3 of "American Horror Story" and about what to expect as "Asylum" comes to a close.
This week's episode ended with Sister Jude stabbing Leigh, who'd posed as a murderous Santa Claus (played by guest star Ian McShane), and in the previews for the upcoming episode, Sister Jude has seemingly become a patient at Briarcliff, after Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) and Dr. Arden (James Cromwell), turned against her.
"Everything gets put in motion now as far as Briarcliff and the demise of that institution and everybody's departure from it, except mine," Lange said. "She actually does try to right the wrongs that she has done but of course she's totally trapped within her own making in a way."
Lange said a turning point for Sister Jude was the scene was in Episode 7. "I think one of my favorite scenes that I've played this year is in the diner ... After this, she becomes entrapped. It's such an honest and vulnerable moment. It shifts the playing field in a way from who she was up until that point and who she's going to become."
Though Lange said it's been a pleasure to work with James Cromwell, Sarah Paulson and Lily Rabe, she particularly enjoyed working with her diner scene partner Frances Conroy. "One of my favorite actors that I worked with in these episodes last year and this year is Frances Conroy ... When we're on screen together, something happens," she said. "There's a connection that you can't really describe. But certain actors I think just find something when we're working together and that's how I felt in these scenes with Franny."
"American Horror Story: Asylum" delves into some very dark places, but Lange said there haven't been many scenes that went too far. "There are times when I've said I think this is too much, but that's not been too often because they tend to write, for me, less kind of action and more psychological." One thing that did make her put her foot down? Those caning scenes. "I've done two, I will not do anymore," she said.
Lange added that working on "American Horror Story" is also more collaborative than other projects. "Sometimes I ask them specifically for stuff like I want to sing or I want to dance ... or I want to play a lounge singer from the '40s."
Perhaps partially because of that collaborative process, Lange has agreed to take part in Season 3 of "American Horror Story," but said there hasn't been much discussion about it yet. "All that stuff is still kind of under discussions. I will try it again, depending on what the story is and who the character is and all of that." When asked if there's anything that would prevent her from being a part of show's third season, Lange said, "Unless we really sink the ship, I can't imagine that there would be something that Ryan [Murphy] came up with that I would not want to be involved with."
Lange has particularly enjoyed playing Sister Jude this season -- as opposed to Constance from Season 1 -- and said she told Ryan Murphy she always wanted to do a drunk scene. "The spin of the character of Constance was this was a woman who had lost everything and had nothing left to lose ... and was extremely unafraid," Lange said. "With Jude, she has a lot to lose because she's holding on to something that she feels has saved her life and has redeemed her ... When she realizes that she did not run over and kill this child ... when she discovers everything is false from the beginning, there's a descent into madness ... and for me, much more interesting to play.
"This woman is much more vulnerable and in a sense, tragic," she added. "She's kind of come to the end of the road."
In a way, Lange feels similarly. "Now, I feel like I have nothing to lose so I don't mind putting myself out there in the most kind of raw, naked, exposed way. I also am able to do that because I really feel like Ryan would protect me somehow," Lange said about her nearly 40-year career. "I feel like at this point now, I can take any chance that I want, I can go as far as I want because judgment doesn't matter to me anymore."
"American Horror Story: Asylum" airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on FX.