After a long career on the big screen in movies like Waiting to Exhale, What's Love Got to Do With It, and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Angela Bassett has become one of the most recent additions to the troupe of actors that go from season to season to season on American Horror Story. We first saw her in Coven as the snake-charming, witch-cursing New Orleans voodoo queen Marie Laveau, and in this season's Freak Show, she plays the multi-breasted circus performer Desiree Dupree.

We caught up with her to talk about subversive horror, playing against type, and shaking her head at the suddenly sensitive Michael Chiklis.

I love that you’ve chosen to work on American Horror Story. Does working with an ensemble cast feel very different from some of your other work?

I think the great pleasure about it for me is that I started in theater, and I love theater, and this gives me more of that feel. When you’re working with an ensemble, you’re all in it together, you know? And all of the parts are lifted up. It feels like every part is interesting and important and exciting, and there’s that intrigue of “Oooh, what’s she doing?” You sit in the makeup room just gobsmacked, reading the scripts.

How far in advance are you getting the scripts? When you’re about to film crazy scenes are you prepared?

We don’t get them that far in advance. Which I guess is kind of interesting, because we are as surprised as you are; we know a little bit more, but we are equally surprised. This season I have my relationship with Dell [Michael Chiklis], and it could go either way — am I going to leave him, am I going to kill him? Anything could happen in this world, and anything does happen. I mean, you could get your head cut off and come on back! [Laughs.]