‘American Horror Story: Cult’ – season 7’s theme, cast, release date and everything we know so far

Can't wait for the return of Ryan Murphy's cult show? Us neither

For the past six years, American Horror Story has paid homage to, altered and rewritten every rule in the horror rulebook. It is thoughtful, funny, self-aware and, most of all, pretty damn terrifying at times. It has spawned multiple spin-offs and sister-series (Scream Queens and American Crime Story) and launched the acting career of one Lady Gaga.

We can’t wait for its return and you shouldn’t either. Here’s everything we know about season seven of the FX anthology series.

When is American Horror Story season 7 out?

AHS will return in the US on September 5 and will run for 11 episodes. The UK can see the new batch of episodes on Fox every Friday from September 8.

What’s the title?

The title was revealed at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 20. AHS season seven will be called Cult.

AHS SEASON 7: CULT

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What’s the theme?

Creator Ryan Murphy said earlier this year that the new series will be based on the 2016 US election. “I think that will be interesting for a lot of people,” he said, calling it “a modern-day story.”

Murphy also revealed during a Twitter Q&A that the new episodes will be set in Michigan, a key state in how the US election panned out.

The series will also be more “grounded” according to Murphy – by which he means there will be no supernatural element in the episodes, as there has been in the other seasons. “The thing about this season is that it’s much more grounded. You’re with this family; you’re with the rise of somebody who seems very dangerous; you’re in Michigan,” he said.

Murphy also said the series explores “the rise of a cult of personality that can rise in a divided society” and said he had been considering how to tackle the phenomenon for a number of years before Trump’s rise. Explaining that he had previously considered making a season about Charles Manson, he said: “But it never felt right to me, because it’s been done a million times, and I didn’t know how to make it fresh. But I kept coming back to the idea of the cult of personality.”

How will season 7 begin?

Murphy told E! Online: “The first 10 minutes of this season, take place in a very eerie macabre way on election night and there’s something terrible that happens in the lives of our characters on election night as they’re watching it all go down. Which in itself was a horror story, so it’s like a horror story upon a horror story.”

Have we seen a trailer?

No full-length trailers yet, but there have been a couple of teasers. First, the below, which fans have speculated hints at a long-rumoured cruise ship setting or storyline coming up. It also flashes to the stick figures from season six, Roanoke, which suggests the possibility of the two series crossing over in some way. Of course, Ryan Murphy does seem to enjoy leading fans down the wrong path and this teaser was released before he’d even begun writing season seven.

The monsters are all gone. #AHSRoanoke

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Then there was this very short TV spot, featuring a seriously creepy clown. There’s been plenty of clown imagery in the reveals about the new episodes so far, so expect this clue to be a legitimate pointer at what to expect from the series.

And then there was the teaser that came with the title reveal. Over various shots of a horde of evil-looking clowns, an ominous voice whispers: “You will feel alone. It’s as if no one really understands you. Some people just make you sick. “Are you afraid? We can set you free. We will make you strong. We want you,” it adds.

The first official trailer showed how the series will start – on election night, with Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters’ characters having very different reactions to the selection of a new President. It also shows a hint of the return of Twisty the clown, as well as Billie Lourd’s debut in the show. It ends with Peters making the ominous observation: “If you get people scared enough, they will set the world on fire.”

What other hints have we seen?

Plenty. Ryan Murphy’s Instagram account is a trove of clues that will have you trying to figure out how they’re all connected. He recently posted this photo of a person covered in a swarm of bees:

AHS last clue before this week's TITLE reveal. Ideas?

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While he’s also teased new monsters, including this hole-filled creature with hands coming out of its head:

American Horror Story Holes

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AHS Season 7 clue: ambidexterity

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He also shared a photo of blue hair with caption “Red, white and blue clue.” How will that link up to the election theme?

AHS Season 7: Red, white and blue clue

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Continuing the bee theme, a new Twitter post shows a woman trying to escape hands grabbing at her from hive walls that are closing in on her.

Elsewhere, there’s a new website, AHS7.com, that’s been launched and will give fans new insight and clues to what’s to come in the new series each week until the premiere. The first week was the Cult teaser video, while the second introduced some of the cult members. What will the coming weeks hold? Sign up to get your cult ID number and find out – watch all the clips below in the meantime.

See the season’s official poster below:

Will it be a crossover season?

While Murphy has confirmed plans to produce a season which combines season one (Murder House) with season three (Coven), it won’t be for season seven.

“It’s not going to be next season, but we are going to do a season that’s a crossover between Murder House and Coven together, which is very bizarre,” Murphy has said. “There will be characters from Murder House and characters from Coven together. I’ve started going to actors from both of the seasons, quietly, saying, ‘I think in this window, if you could fit us in’. So yeah, it’s fun. It’s weird”.

However, in 2016 Murphy also told EW: “Next year, we will be going back to some Freak Show characters, deeper histories and mythologies. So we’re sort of still exploring season 4 in season 7.”

In the meantime, Murphy has revealed the context behind the franchise and its nine seasons’ individual meaning. On Instagram, he posted a list of the nine circles of hell with the corresponding series in brackets next to each that had already aired or been announced. The circle relating to Cult? Heresy. Sounds fitting for the political nightmare we’re in now.

Interesting

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Which cast members are confirmed so far?

Fan favourites Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters will return for the series and will play Ally Mayfair-Richards and fictional cult leader Kai Anderson respectively. Peters will also portray more characters throughout the season as Murphy has confirmed he will take on the roles of many more cult leaders including Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh and Andy Warhol.

Billy Eichner joins the cast as Harrison Wilton, while Carrie Fisher’s daughter and Scream Queens star Billie Lourd will play Winter Anderson. Leslie Grossman, who Murphy called “one of the funniest and most talented ladies I know”, will appear as Meadow Wilton.

 

Other AHS newcomers include Colton Haynes (Detective Samuels), Alison Pill (Ally’s partner Ivy Mayfair-Richards) and Lena Dunham, who will star in episode seven as Valerie Solanos – the woman who tried to assassinate Andy Warhol. Mare Winningham, Adina Porter (Beverly Hope), Cheyenne Jackson (Dr Rudy Vincent) and Frances Conroy will all return. Emma Roberts was a late cast announcement and will play a Michigan newscaster who is promoted ahead of Porter’s character “simply because she’s much more superficial and willing to do what it takes to survive”.

At present it is unknown whether series regulars Denis O’Hare, Lily Rabe and Angela Bassett will feature.

Kathy Bates won’t feature in the new season, having appeared in the past four seasons of the show. Lady Gaga, who won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of The Countess in season five, Hotel, will not return for season seven. Jessica Lange has also been confirmed not to return for Cult.

Actors introduced in season six, Cuba Gooding Jr and André Holland, could also feature again.

Creator Ryan Murphy has confirmed that neither Trump nor Clinton will be played by actors in season 7, saying: “We don’t have actors playing them. You’ll see them on television.”

Press

Is there any concept art for season 7?

You betcha!

There’s this freaky clown-elephant mask, presumably a reference to the Republicans’ elephant logo:

American Horror Story Season 7 tease.

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And there’s this doll version of Twisty the clown:

American Horror Story Twisty doll! Coming soon to haunt your nightmares.

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Scary.

Will Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson have big parts in this series?

Evan Peters is the only actor to have a main cast role in all six seasons of AHS so far. Fans were initially confused to why Peters was yet to appear in the opening episodes of Roanoke, but he later played two roles in the season: as actor Rory Monahan and as Edward Phillipe Mott in recreation sequences.

Although he and Paulson, who has appeared in all seasons of the show, but only played a minor role in Murder House, are again expected to feature heavily in Cult. They will play lovers Kai and Ally respectively, a relationship that Murphy has described as “a love story for the ages”. The creator has also described this series as Peters’ “heaviest season yet.”

Ally and Kai in CULT…a love story for the ages.

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When will filming start?

Production on this season of AHS began in June. Murphy said in January that he had “just started writing” for season seven.

How many more seasons will there be?

There are three more seasons commissioned for AHS – season seven, plus two more. Season eight will air in 2018, followed by season nine in 2019.

“We don’t know what the eighth and ninth seasons are about,” FX CEO John Landgraf says. “We’re extending it out of trust and goodwill but also, Ryan made a commitment that he would continue to run that show and that he would be involved as he has been in the past with… designing and building the show from the ground up.

“I’m utterly confident that seasons 8 and 9 will be equally original and interesting.”

Which UK channel will it be on?

Season seven will be aired on Fox in the UK.

How will the Roanoke backlash affect the next season?

Not everyone was a fan of the latest AHS season, the very meta Roanoke, which involved a fake TV show about a fake TV show on a real TV show.

But Murphy appears unfazed.”Last year was successful,” he recently said, before admitting: “[But] I don’t know that we’d do it again.”

Murphy has also teased the follow-up by saying: “We lay a lot of pipe, and you’ll see it explode in seasons seven and eight.”