Season 4 of FX's anthology series American Horror Story: Freak Show won't premiere until this coming October, but that doesn't mean we can't start getting excited about it now. (Four months isn't even that long, really.) AHS star Sarah Paulson recently started stoking the fires of anticipation for the next installment by tweeting concept art for her new character(s). Turns out Paulson (who previously played medium Billie Dean, journalist Lana, and headmistress Cordelia) will next be tackling two new roles: conjoined twins Bette and Dot.
This freaky revelation got us thinking: what other famous sideshow archetypes can we expect to see pop up on Freak Show? Very little is actually known at this point about the casting for next season, other than which actors will be returning, like Angela Bassett (yay!), and which ones won't, like Lily Rabe (boo!). Here's what we do know: Jessica Lange will portray the manager of the titular freak show; newcomer Michael Chiklis and returnee Kathy Bates are playing ex-spouses; Evan Peters is their son; and Denis O'Hare is a "collector of freaks."
So in the absence of any official announcements from FX or showrunner Ryan Murphy, let's take a stab at predicting which oddities will make an appearance this fall, and which cast members will be playing them.
The Strong Man
No sideshow is complete without a freakishly able-bodied gentleman (like The Great Antonio, above.)
Good thing AHS already has a ridiculously able-bodied gentleman in its cast. Who better to play The Strong Man than Michael Chiklis (who previously starred on FX in The Shield)?
The Bearded Lady
Another popular staple of sideshows is the woman with copious facial hair, like Miss Annie Jones Elliot here.
Not only would Kathy Bates look great with a giant Dumbledore beard, but since she and Chiklis are playing ex-spouses, we love the idea of the Strong Man and the Bearded Lady as a couple.
The Lion-Faced Boy
Another popular stock character in sideshows were boys or men whose entire faces (and bodies) were covered in a thick coating of hair.
While some might consider it a crime to cover up Evan Peters' handsome mug with six inches of fur, it would make sense that the son of a woman with unusual facial hair would also turn out to have unusual facial hair.
The Four-Legged Lady
Myrtle Corbin's two inner legs were actually vestigial leftovers of a twin that failed to separate correctly in the womb. While she could move the limbs, they weren't strong enough to support her weight.
Emma Roberts did a stellar job playing bitchy queen bee Madison last year on Coven, but we'd love to see her tackle a totally different role this time around: perhaps as a timid girl embarrassed by her deformity?
The Half Lady
From the waist up, Mademoiselle Gabrielle was an exceptionally normal-looking human being. But her perfectly-formed body just so happened to end smoothly at her hips — she was born without any lower extremities.
Picture it now: Frances Conroy perched on a shelf, unable to move of her own volition, spouting acid-tongued witticisms at her fellow freaks.
The 161-Year-Old Woman
Joice Heth, a former slave, was paraded around the country by P.T. Barnum, who (falsely) extolled her as the former mammy to none other than George Washington himself. Though she looked older than her years due to being blind and almost completely paralyzed, she was in reality only about 80 years old when she died.
It would take some impressive makeup work, but we'd love to see the lovely Angela Bassett play the decrepit "oldest woman alive"... who's actually a spry and sassy spitfire in her downtime.
Mrs. Tom Thumb
The marriage between Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren (who was a mere 32-inches tall) in 1863 was presided over by President Abraham Lincoln himself, and signaled the height of the sideshow's popularity as entertainment.
We can just imagine a (digitally shrunk) pint-sized Gabourey Sidibe tottering around the set of Freak Show, her larger-than-life personality outstripping her smaller-than-life stature.
The Camel Girl
Ella Harper had a condition known as genu recurvatum, which allowed her knees to unnaturally bend forward so she could walk on all fours. In 1886, Harper declared her ambition to quit the circus and go to school. Sure enough, she disappeared from the public eye that year, never appearing in a sideshow again.
Jamie Brewer would be fantastic as an intelligent and sensitive girl with aspirations far outside of the humiliating freak show that circumstances have confined her to.
The Elephant Man
And then there's Joseph Merrick, AKA The Elephant Man. The man's sad life story has been adapted into books, operas, plays, and movies. (Bradley Cooper will be starring in a Broadway revival of the play by Bernard Pomerance later this year.) He's such a famous figure, no work tackling sideshows would feel complete without a nod to this pop culture phenomenon. Surely we can expect to see an elephant man of Murphy's creation at some point, right?
Thus far, Michael Chiklis, Evan Peters, and Denis O'Hare are the only announced male cast members of Freak Show. So who might play The Elephant Man? We'd love to see Zachary Quinto back after his terrific turn in Asylum. Coven was sorely missing the actor's magnetic presence, and we'd give anything to have him back on our television screen... even if he has to be covered in unrecognizable prosthetics to get him there.
Images: MsSarahPaulson/Twitter Lois Siegel/Wikipedia; The Man In Question/Wikipedia; Charles Eisenmann/Wikipedia; James R. Applegate/Wikipedia; The Thing/Sideshows.wikia; Iscamaya/Wikipedia; Matthew Brady/Wikipedia; Ella Harper’s 1886 Nickle Plate Circus Pitch Card; belovedfreak/Wikipedia; Getty