There’s something captivating about Jessica Lange. The Academy Award-winning actress took last year’s awards season by storm, scooping up a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award, a Primetime Emmy, a Satellite Award, and a Television Critics Association Award in recognition of her work as Constance Langdon in the hit FX series, American Horror Story. And while some might argue that American Horror Story: Asylum isn’t as strong as the previous installment of the series, I think we can all agree that the one person that keeps the audience coming back for more is Lange. Watching her play Sister Jude this season has been pure bliss and has already garnered the talented actress nominations for both a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for her portrayal of the strict, no-nonsense nun.
It’s the unraveling of Sister Jude that has produced some of the best moments of the season. Episode three, “Nor’easter,” featured a drunk, rambling, and stumbling Jude introducing a movie for the Briarcliff patients and showcased Lange at the top of her game. The most recent episode, “The Coat Hanger,” finds Jude being accused of murdering Frank, the Briarcliff guard, and is now a lifetime member of the asylum she was once in charge of. The episode also highlighted a newfound comradeship with her former patient Lana (Sarah Paulson) is sure to keep the audience on their toes.
Recently, Lange took part in a Q & A session with various media outlets to discuss American Horror Story: Asylum. She spoke of the differences between her characters Constance Langdon and Sister Jude, what she thinks of being the fan-favorite of the show, and if a third installment of American Horror Story is in her future.
I was wondering if you could talk about the process you go through as an actress. You switched from such memorable characters as Big Edie to Constance to Sister Jude, what’s the process you go through?
It depends. I work differently on all of them, but recently, I’ve been trying to work in a very immediate fashion, so that I’m relying much more now on just pure imagination that comes up in a moment, and I just follow through rather than trying to plan anything or design anything. And I think that’s the biggest difference.
With fictional characters, you really rise and fall on the strength of your imagination, I think. With somebody like Big Edie, of course, I had a wealth of resource material to draw from. But the thing that I’ve been working on more and more lately is finding the character through the voice, and sometimes I would work on finding it through the emotional core, which is still the main element I work in, but the external instead of finding it through movement or body or whatever. Now, I try to find it through voice. And it’s been very interesting, because with Big Edie, every day I’d come to the set, I would listen to her voice, I would put on the DVD of Grey Gardens and not look at the image, but just hear the voice, and as soon as I found that voice, I could drop into the character.