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AHS Season 10: The Red Tide Character Kathy Bates Almost Played

Kathy Bates was originally slated to appear in American Horror Story season 10 before dropping out – here’s who she was supposed to play.

American Horror Story season 10 brought back many of its familiar cast members, but one popular Red Tide character was originally supposed to be played by Kathy Bates. While season 10’s alien story with Death Valley was largely hated by many fans for its underwhelming plot, Red Tide’s vampire premise was highly praised by fans and critics alike, partially for its incredible casting. Red Tide saw the triumphant return of AHS favorites Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters after being absent in season 9, featured beloved regulars Lily Rabe, Billie Lourd, Finn Wittrock, Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare, Adina Porter, and Leslie Grossman, while also recruiting new fan-favorite actor Macaulay Culkin.

Red Tide’s portion of American Horror Story: Double Feature included an incredible slate of familiar AHS actors, but one anticipated returning actress was missing from the cast. Upon joining American Horror Story in season 3’s Coven as Delphine LaLaurie, Kathy Bates was welcomed as one of the most praised actors on the series, even winning an Emmy for her Coven performance. Since season 3, Kathy Bates’ American Horror Story characters have included Ethel Darling in Freak Show, Iris in Hotel, Agnes Mary Winstead in Roanoke, and Miriam Mead in Apocalypse. After appearing in five American Horror Story seasons and a season 9 hiatus, Bates was originally slated to return for season 10’s Red Tide feature.

Before AHS veteran Frances Conroy accepted the role, Kathy Bates was initially tapped in to play Red Tide’s vampiric erotic author Belle Noir. The character is fairly present in American Horror Story season 10, serving as the first Provincetown creative that The Chemist’s black pills actually have a positive effect on. Belle continues to take the black pills and increasingly grows her confidence and mischief alongside her wealth and fame, eventually taking in playwright Austin Sommers (Evan Peters) under her wing. Frances Conroy’s character was protective over keeping the normal bloodsucking routine during the winters under control, and became gradually more frustrated as Harry, Alma, and Mickey disrupted the flow with their own black pill talents. Belle Noir was actually one of the first Red Tide characters to be praised by fans, with viewers particularly enjoying her multiple karaoke duets with Austin.

When American Horror Story season 10’s cast was first announced in February 2020, Kathy Bates was featured on the main line-up in an undisclosed role. Once further details became known, it was revealed that Bates would be playing the erotic author Belle Noir. Unfortunately, Bates dropped out of the season, with rumors linking her departure to health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic or scheduling conflicts (via E!). Frances Conroy wasn’t added to the cast until February 2021, so it appears that Conroy was recruited once Bates had officially stepped down. Interestingly, part of how Ryan Murphy convinced Macaulay Culkin to join Red Tide was a synopsis of his character relating to Kathy Bates. According to E!, Culkin was told his American Horror Story character had “erotic sex with Kathy Bates,” and this was a selling point for why he agreed to jump on board. Once American Horror Story season 10 actually premiered it didn’t seem like Conroy’s Belle Noir and Culkin’s Mickey were sexually involved, so this may have been a small rewrite once filming began.

Bates was certainly missed on Red Tide, but Frances Conroy stepped up to the plate and managed to deliver an outstanding performance in the role. With American Horror Story renewed for seasons 11, 12, and 13, viewers are still holding out hope that Kathy Bates will return with an exciting new character. The idea of Kathy Bates almost playing Belle Noir still leaves room for fans to imagine how differently the character and her storyline would have been had she maintained the role, especially her dynamic with Macaulay Culkin’s character.

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