American Horror Story: Hotel’s latest castings haven’t done much to validate the series’ supposed Season 5 reinvention, but a new interview with Ryan Murphy might. Not only does the creator confirm that Denis O’Hare will return for Hotel, so too does the possibility of Jessica Lange’s return remain open, while a number of new Hotel details have emerged.

Speaking with Deadline, Murphy confirmed that O’Hare’s deal to return has nearly been finalized, ending one of the few franchise regulars not yet signed for Hotel. And while Murphy promises a more ensemble-based horror focus this year, both he and Jessica Lange expressed a possibility for future returns, as Murphy says:

I think if I came up with something extraordinary for her, if I could come up with a great character, she’s all about that, and she’s told me that, if you have something great after I sort of get my rest then let’s keep talking, so I’ll do that.

Something Lange herself echoed with The Wrap:

If Ryan came to me and said, ‘Would you want to do a small character for a couple episodes?’ I would absolutely say yes if I liked it. This was a great collaboration, so I would love to keep working with him.

In addition to previewing Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters playing against type as evil characters, and downplaying any musical numbers (despite the presence of several singers in the cast), Murphy spoke to some of the changes in tone this year:

The upcoming season that we’re doing is much more horror-based; it’s much more dark. It’s about a theme and an idea that’s very close to my heart that I’ve always wanted to do that’s a little bloodier and grislier I think than anything that we’ve done before; it’s straight horror this year. […]

It’s based in the hotel in horror movies and horror tropes. We’ve researched several real-live hotels in downtown LA where absolutely horrifying things happened. Murder House I thought was a very primal season because everybody’s great fear is about the bogeyman under the bed in their house, and this feels similar to me in that when you check into a hotel, there are certain things beyond your control. Other people have the keys to your room; they can come in there. You’re not exactly safe, it’s a very unsettling idea. […]

I also think that the thing that’s different about the season is that before we’ve always been very driven by the Jessica Lange character. She was always the lead character. This year, it’s a true ensemble and I think we have more male parts and more male stories. The Wes Bentley part is really big, the Matt Bomer part is really big; Evan Peters and Finn Wittrock are really big. That’s not to say that the women aren’t either; I mean Kathy Bates and Gaga and Paulson’s part and Angela Bassett’s part are great. But I guess it’s a different tone this year than we’ve had.

Following the additions of New Girl star Max Greenfield, Cheyenne Jackson and Lady Gaga, the Hotel cast thus far includes returning Coven alum Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Asylum star Chloe Sevigny, Freak Show guests Finn Wittrock, Matt Bomer and Wes Bentley. Season 5 production on American Horror Story: Hotel will commence in California later this summer, but what other surprises lie in store for the remaining cast announcements? Will we learn much more at Comic-Con?

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