American Horror Story, easily one of the most twisted shows on TV, is back for another season of fright—but no one ever said scary couldn’t be sexy. With Hotel’s premiere Oct. 7 set—just one of the many juicy details announced during the TCAs in Los Angeles—we’re finally beginning to understand what’s going to happen now that Jessica Lange is checking out and Lady Gaga is checking in.
INSPIRATION and PLOT
The idea for this season came from a surveillance video Murphy watched showing a woman entering a hotel and disappearing.
This is the same video of Elisa Lam, a woman who was discovered dead in a water tank atop of the Cecil Hotel—now called Stay on Main—in Los Angeles. She had been reported missing several weeks prior. Her last known whereabouts were captured on an elevator camera. Many believed her death was a result of paranormal act.
Hotels have become a part of the horror genre serving as a setting (or inspiration) for The Shinning and House on Haunted Hill. The show itself will be more closely related to Murder House and Asylum—and characters from previous seasons will be checking in.
While Hotel is reportedly going to be the sexiest season — thanks to the attractive younger cast and promise of plenty skin — it's also the most horrific yet. "We're shooting a scene where somebody literally comes out of a mattress. So that's been terrifying. We built a mattress that somebody has been sewed into, and is not dead, so things like that," Murphy revealed during the TCAs.
Murphy also said the show will deal heavily with addiction, as revealed in many of the character descriptions below.
LOCATION and TIME
Hotel will take place in Los Angeles and reportedly takes place modern day. While the horror will initially start in the hotel, it will seep into the outside world.
Of course, this being AHS, we know that timelines are often obscured and jumps to the past and future are always possible.
With Lange out, that means more of Murphy’s familiar faces are stepping up to fill the void left by the actress, while new, sexy players check in.
Lady Gaga (new): Elizabeth is a wealthy, bisexual social doyenne, who—according to Murphy—is consumed with art, fashion, and people. She has relationships with Angela Bassett, Bomer, Wittrock, and Cheyenne Jackson’s characters.
Matt Bomer (returning): Donovan engages in a relationship with Elizabeth (Gaga) and interacts with Iris (Kathy Bates), as well as Wittrock’s character. Murphy teased that Donovan, Elizabeth, and Wittrock’s character will be entangled in some sort of love triangle.
Sarah Paulson (returning): “Hypodermic” Sally is a drug addict who lives at the hotel. This is Paulson’s first villain on the anthology series, someone Murphy describes as “the baddest girl of them all.” Sally hates Iris in “a rather ancient way,” according to Paulson.
Kathy Bates (returning): Iris is a woman who runs the hotel and can’t stand Sally.
Cheyenne Jackson (new): Drake is a "fashion icon" and father who recently moved from New York City to Los Angeles. He’s described as “desperate.”
Despite the cast having serious theater cred, it’s still unclear if any singing or dancing will make it onto the show. Murphy did say that the season was at one point inspired by the comedy, Top Hat, which explained why a number of singers and dancers had been cast.
Angela Bassett (returning): Ramona Royale is a sexy actress who visits the hotel often and has a close bond with Elizabeth.
Finn Wittrock (returning): Tristan Duffy is a male model. Tristan is searching to fill a void that it seems only Elizabeth can fill.
Is anyone starting to get an Elsa Mars (Lange in Freak Show) vibe from Gaga’s character? Is she a collector of freaks — in this case, the rich and famous — or just obsessed with being a part of their world?
Denis O’Hare (returning): Someone who is inspired by Elizabeth Taylor and such films as Butterfield 8 and Cleopatra. According to O’Hare, he’s clean-shaven from head to “other parts.” He works for Iris at the hotel bar.
Chloe Sevigny (returning): Alex is a doctor and wife of Detective John Lowell (Bentley). She’s also mother and dealing with a substantial loss in her family that she’s coming to terms with.
Wes Bentley (returning): Det. John Lowell is a married man also suffering from a great family loss. His investigation into some murders leads him to the hotel.
Hey, when you start lining up all the guys in the cast, there’s a noticeable likeness. As Vanity Fair aptly put it, “maybe Ryan Murphy just has a preferred type.”
Max Greenfield (new): An addict who checks into the hotel and becomes entangled with Sally. He’s said to check in but never check out. Murphy also revealed his surprising transformation, which included dropping 30 pounds — down to a size 27-inch waist — and cutting off his hair.
Does Greenfield’s character remind anyone else of the sloth murder from Se7en?
Lily Rabe (returning): Aileen Wuornos is the real-life serial killer of seven men portrayed by Charlize Theron in Monster. Her character will be at the centerpiece of the two-part Halloween special.
Naomi Campbell (new): A fashion editor whose critiques may result in dire consequences. She’ll go head-to-head with Elizabeth.
Richard T. Jones (new): Detective Hahn is a member of the Los Angeles Police Department. Jones will have an eight-episode arc on the series.
Mädchen Amick (new): A mother whose son becomes ill. Her son is a patient of Alex's.
Evan Peters (returning): Not much is known outside the fact that he’ll be a guest "checking into Room 64."
Emma Roberts (returning): Her character is a mystery, but she’s expected to appear in the final episodes of the season after she’s wrapped on Scream Queens, Murphy’s other anthology horror series on Fox.
Helena Mattsson (new): Unknown; she’s checking in, but is she checking out?
Darren Criss (new): Nothing is confirmed—even if he’s signed on. Right now, he's reportedly in talks to make his AHS debut. If he does join, he’ll become the third major Glee crossover following Bomer and Jackson.
KEY ART and Teasers
There's only one official teaser, starring Gaga.
And the poster doesn't offer much else if not a very Gaga-inspired peek through a keyhole.
Prep your viewing parties for Wednesdays starting Oct. 7 on FX.