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Sarah Paulson talks two-headed role on 'American Horror Story'

"I was instantly excited, followed by total panic," the actress said of the challenging role.

By
Annie Martin
Sarah Paulson portrays conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler on 'American Horror Story: Freak Show.' (UPI/Jim Ruymen)
Sarah Paulson portrays conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler on 'American Horror Story: Freak Show.' (UPI/Jim Ruymen) | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- Sarah Paulson says her new role on American Horror Story is both difficult and exciting.

The 39-year-old actress has starred on three seasons of the FX series, and will portray conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler on season four, Freak Show. Paulson told USA Today she was excited when creator Ryan Murphy approached her about playing two characters, but admitted the nature of the role presented difficulties.

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"I was instantly excited, followed by total panic," she recalled. "I was thinking about the excitement of playing two people with distinct personalities who shared a body -- just the acting challenge of that was very exciting to me. And then very quickly, I [asked] myself, 'How the hell are we going to pull this off?'"

"Basically, I would shoot a wide shot as Bette, then move to Dot, and then they would change the camera lens," she revealed. "I would shoot as Dot and then go back to Bette. That was very hard and made me feel like I was short-circuiting my brain, because I had to go back and forth between each girl and was unable to concentrate on one."

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Paulson said she tried to keep her face "as still as possible" when portraying Dot, as the character is "not as welcoming of other people in the world" and less inclined to share her feelings. Bette, on the other hand, is "more expressive and warm," and craves social interaction and affection.

American Horror Story: Freak Show premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on FX. The new season also stars Jessica Lange as freak show manager Elsa Mars, Michael Chiklis as strongman performer Wendell del Toredo, Angela Bassett as three-breasted woman Desiree Dupree, Kathy Bates as bearded woman Ethel Darling and John Carroll Lynch as Twisty the Clown.

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