'American Horror Story: Asylum': Franka Potente talks playing 'Anne Frank' and guest starring on TV's craziest show

american-horror-story-asylum-sarah-paulson-franka-potente-fx.jpgOf all the insane things we've seen so far in "American Horror Story: Asylum" -- aliens, Bloody Face, surgically-mutated Chloe Sevigny -- Franka Potente's character ranks right up there with the craziest.

Potente checked in to the "Asylum" this week as a mysterious new inmate claiming to be Anne Frank (as in the Anne Frank) and insisting that the asylum's creepy Dr. Arden ( James Cromwell) is actually a Nazi who performed hideous experiments in a Holocaust concentration camp. She's so convincing that even Sister Jude ( Jessica Lange) starts to believe her.

After that disturbing final scene revealing exactly what Arden had done to Sevigny's poor character Shelley, we're starting to believe Anne too. But the biggest twists are yet to come: all will be revealed in next week's episode, "I Am Anne Frank, Part 2."

On a conference call to promote her arc on the series, Potente spoke about her experiences working with Lange and Cromwell, what she thinks of the show overall and how there was little acting required for the moment her character sees Shelley.

Here are some of the highlights:

On playing the unusual role of "Anne Frank"...

"Anne Frank and the diary is known worldwide, probably one of the most famous books ever. Like every other high school student, I read it in school. I visited the Anne Frank house. She was Dutch but she spent a few years living in Germany. I knew things but I looked at the diary again, to refresh my memory a little bit. It's one of the landmarks of history.

"But I loved the idea of 'What if? What if she was still around?' She would be my age. What would that be like? To indulge in that for a little bit. There were a lot of women at the time who I guess did that."

On working with Lange and Cromwell...

"When I went to work I would tell my husband, 'I'm going to take some acting lessons now.' In the beginning it was a little bit intimidating. My first day of work was all with Jessica and I think I had 20 pages of lines, I really nervous didn't really sleep that well. It still happens after 16 years on the job. She was very sweet and kind, really embraced working with me on the scene. It felt really good. Jamie is just awesome, he's a very curious man, very knowledgeable man. He loves to talk, we talked about France and Germany."

american-horror-story-asylum-franka-potente-james-cromwell-fx.jpgOn filming her climactic fight scene with Cromwell...

"When you watch the show, it's edited so fast, it's probably a minute and a half but when we shot the scene it took six or seven hours. Jamie and I went to the floor, there were no stunt people involved. I went to him the next day and said please tell me you have bruises too. He said yeah totally. It was awesome and a lot of work. You have to plan these things, he's a tall, strong man. He can't just push me anywhere. The stunt people did coordinate that. It was written very violent in the script. I remember he was pushing me into a cart, you barely see it because it happens so fast, with scalpels and stuff on it. There's adrenaline and you get a rush from it. And at the very end with Chloe behind that door, it was like 'Jesus!' She's right there."

On her reaction to Sevigny's mutated appearance...

"Honestly I didn't see much of her before I opened the door. I knew she was there. They had to wheel her in because of the nature of her prosthetics she couldn't even walk. I knew she was there but I kind of avoided seeing her because I knew it was not going to be pretty and I saved that for the reaction. So when I opened the door, it was horrendous. In my mind I was like let your face do it, just breathe and take in what you see. I only had to half act it, it was kind of gross."

On her real life experience in an asylum...

"Many years ago for a German film I did with Tom Tykwer, 'The Princess and the Warrior,' I actually worked in an insane asylum for two weeks. I have many vivid memories of that very awkward time. But on the other hand this is set in the '60s so it's very different. The experiments that they conduct at the time with the patients were very new. But I've spent quite some time that was very intense in an institution like that. It's always nice to have a fresh take on it, this is at the end of the day a person. Nobody who's insane runs around thinking, 'Oh my god, I'm insane.' You have to play against that and be as normal as possible."

On the unique appeal of "American Horror Story"...

"If you commit yourself to watching something like this you want to be creeped out. This is not a cooking show or a book club! People like [the show] because it's this weird ambivalent feeling of 'I'm watching these sick things, there's sick stuff on this show,' but people are intrigued. And I think they feel bad at the same time, like 'I can't believe I'm watching this!' You know the scene with Lana [Sarah Paulson] masturbating and puking? People went crazy about that online. It's this weird feeling of 'I can't believe I just watched this' but you have to watch, you can't look away. It's the great attraction of it."
Photo/Video credit: FX
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