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‘American Horror Story’ Season 4 ‘Freak Show’: Kathy Bates To Play Bearded Woman Ethel Darling

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By Anshu Shrivastava | August 29, 2014 5:33 PM EST

Emmy award winner Kathy Bates is returning in American Horror Story" Season 4, which is subtitled "Freak Show," to play one of the performers in a freak show that is managed by Jessica Lange's character, Elsa Mars. She is playing the much talked about bearded woman, Ethel Darling.

Ethel Darling is the mother to Jimmy Darling, played by Evan Peter, and is the ex-wife of the strong-man, Wendell del Tolito, played by veteran actor Michael Chiklis. Bates recently won the Emmy award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her role in "American Horror Story: Coven."  

The Hollywood Reporter [THR] has published the first poster of the upcoming season of this FX's anthology series. It features the performers of the show and Lange's Elsa Mars is also there. Sarah Paulson, who is playing conjoined twins, with two heads, Bette and Dot, Lange, Angela Bassett, who is playing Desiree Dupree, Peters, Chiklis, the smallest woman, Jyoti Amge, the tallest guy can be seen in the poster.

Set in 1952 in Jupiter, Florida, "Freak Show" is the "story of the performers and their desperate journey of survival amid the dying world of the American carny experience," according to official synopsis.    

Season 4 opens in a "quiet, sleepy hamlet of Jupiter, Florida" but soon "troupe of curiosities arrive." Their arrival coincides with the "strange emergence of a dark entity that savagely threatens the lives of townsfolk and freaks alike."

Murphy said to THR that "at every freak show, you have the tropes but there's some [that are] unique and weird. It's about something: It's about outcasts and how society at that time ... true stories about circus performers who were cast aside."

"The story in many ways dovetails with Asylum, because they leave one era and you can see many of them in real life were put into asylums. There's a great symmetry we've come up with that's rewarding."

Murphy also revealed that "Freak Show" is darker than the last season "Coven." He said to THR: "... It feels like a Douglas Sirk movie; it's very 1952 presentational and then the horror is an unexpected jab."

"American Horror Story" Season 4 episode 1, which is directed by Murphy, is scheduled to air on Oct. 08.   

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