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Jessica Lange (born April 20, 1949) is an American actor of stage, film, and television. She portrayed Constance Langdon in "Murder House", Sister Jude in "AsylumFiona Goode in "Coven", and Elsa Mars in "Freak Show". Having worked in film, theater, and television, Lange has been the recipient of several awards, including two Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, and two Emmys. Moreover, she can be considered a singer as she has recorded multiple songs for Freak Show.

Background

Lange was born in Cloquet, Minnesota. She is of Finnish and German/Dutch descent. Lange studied Art and Photography at the University of Minnesota.

In 1973, Lange returned to New York and began supporting herself by becoming a waitress at the Lion's Head Tavern, while sharing an apartment with soon-to-be-famous fashion models Jerry Hall and Grace Jones in Manhattan. She was discovered by fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez and briefly modeled fashion for the Wilhelmina Models Agency before being discovered by Hollywood producer Dino De Laurentiis.

Since 1982, she has lived with playwright/actor Sam Shepard. She has three children: Alexandra (born in 1981) with dancer/actor Mikhail Baryshnikov (whom she met in 1979 and had a relationship with until after her daughter's birth), Hannah Jane (born 1985) and Samuel Walker (born 1985), who are both her children with Shepard.

Career

Lange made her professional film debut in 1976's King Kong. The film was a box office hit, but both the film and Lange's performance were dismissed by film critics and most of Hollywood. Despite this, her role would receive her the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year and the film became the fifth highest-grossing movie of 1976. Lange did not work on another film for almost three years, but still determined to become a professional actress, she continued to be a waitress at the Lion's Head Tavern while attending classes at the Actor's Studio in Greenwich Village.

In 1979, Lange portrayed the "Angel of Death" in Bob Fosse's semi-autobiographical film, All That Jazz. Lange and Fosse had carried on a short-lived affair after her film debut, but soon became close friends after Lange formed a relationship with Russian ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Later on, Bob Rafelson offered Lange the infamous lead role, opposite Jack Nicholson, in 1981's The Postman Always Rings Twice. During filming, Nicholson became quite enamored with Lange for both her "beauty and strength". He was quoted as referring to Lange as "a cross between a delicate fawn and a Buick." Lange was unanimously praised for her performance, some even citing it as her "true film debut". Major critical and financial success followed Lange throughout the next three decades, including today.

In 2011, Lange joined the cast of American Horror Story. The series co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk originally wrote the role of "Constance", a nosy neighbor, as a supporting character. After Lange acquired the role, they expanded it considerably. They finally categorized her character as a "third lead". Murphy has stated that he repeatedly saw Lange as "Blanche DuBois" in the Broadway rendition of A Streetcar Named Desire during 1992. Afterward, he grew "obsessed" with her and cited her and her performance as his ultimate favorites.

Since American Horror Story's debut as FX's highest-rated premiere (and becoming one of the network's highest-rated shows ever), Lange has seen a resurgence in her popularity and has received rave reviews for her controversial role.

She has won best-supporting actress in a television series at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards for her performance in American Horror Story.

In 2016 she returned to the stage in Broadway's revival of Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

Notes

  • Lange once performed with Sarah Paulson in a Broadway play - The Glass Menagerie.[1]
  • Although Lange stated in 2015 that she was "Done" with AHS she has since suggested she may be happy to play in a guest spot or minor role. This may allow for a potential crossover in a future season with one of Lange's previous characters as show-runner Ryan Murphy has done in the past.
  • Lange's name was always the last to appear in every season's title sequence.
    • Moreover, she was always credited with the honorary "and".
  • Season Four of American Horror Story marked her retirement from the series and she was planning to retire from acting in general, however, it appears that she has regretted that decision as she's staring in a new show created by Ryan Murphy called Feud which premieres on March 7, 2017. [2][3]
    • However, she has stated that she was most likely going to be in the fifth season which was originally a World War theme, however, once it changed to Hotel, she decided to leave, even though she was planning beforehand.[citation needed]
  • Jessica Lange's characters are more often than not antagonistic to Frances Conroy's. The first example is given by the animosity and constant bickering even after death between Constance and her housemaid Moira O'Hara, guilty of having been forced into an affair by Constance's husband, Hugo. Later in season three, the two actresses portrayed two rival witches, Fiona Goode and Myrtle Snow. In the fourth season, Fräulein Elsa Mars was openly criticized and despised by socialite Gloria Mott. Although not openly hostile, Sister Jude found death on the lips of Shachath in the second season.

Gallery

References

  1. New Glass Menagerie Revival Opens on Broadway
  2. Jessica Lange Leaving 'American Horror Story' After Next Season
  3. Jessica Lange reveals why she’s leaving ‘American Horror Story’ 
  4. Jessica Lange Takes on 'American Horror Story: Freak Show'