Jessica Lange will not be returning for American Horror Story: Hotel. Let us lament that fact, and move on as best we can. It's funny that her departure is such a blow to the American Horror Story fandom, but it's interesting to question why her absence is one felt so strongly, that can't be filled by anyone else.
Having an anthology show, where each season involves a completely different subject and characters, is perhaps the best way to endear your audience to your cast, especially when we're seeing them in different roles over and over. It becomes so much easier to enjoy an actress like Sarah Paulson when we're constantly seeing different facets of her performance, stretched right across her range. American Horror Story benefits the most from this format, rocking a cast that appears a bit more like an amateur dramatics club than an all-star line up.
Series regulars like Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson, and recently Kathy Bates, give American Horror Story the sense of being an institution that our favourite actors return to. It's almost like a hotel for great performances, which funnily enough, is the exact premise for American Horror Story Season 5. But out of all the actors we've seen over four seasons, who isn't returning for Hotel, but really deserves to join the regulars?
Quinto has only appeared in two seasons of American Horror Story, and has since made his presence scarce, probably because his being in Star Trek 3 makes him too big a name. It's a pity, because as an actor, he has this sense of warped beauty, just like the show itself. Although he has a slight sinister air about him, I believe he works better as a good guy, as Heroes took so long to realise. He's strangely relatable amongst the morbid subject matter this show deals in, and would provide a great emotional core to American Horror Story: Hotel. Alas, he will not be returning.
Lily Rabe is a veteran of American Horror Story, appearing in every season since murder house. In my opinion, she embodies the wild swings in tone and style the show is capable of. I watched Asylum and Coven simultaneously, and for some time, was unable to tell that she starred in both. She can go from sweet and wide-eyes to deranged and lurid as fast as the writers require. Allegedly, Rabe simply has not been contacted to reappear, but could well show up if the story requires it.
American Horror Story: Asylum ruined Babe for me. James Cromwell embodies such a wholesome image (the guy became a vegan because he co-starred with a pig!), then this show has to come along and trash it! The man who, in my brain, was once the stubborn but sweet farmer Hoggett is now the despicable, insane, downright monstrous Dr Arthur Arden. Bringing Cromwell back for American Horror Story: Hotel would no doubt give him the chance to expand his range a little. He can just as easily be a sweet old man as he can be a deranged cartoon scientist. Or he could be a wizard... just make him a wizard and Hotel will be the best season yet!
This one is also up in the air. Despite only appearing in the two most recent seasons, Emma Roberts has somehow managed to become a staple of American Horror Story. Appearing as the ruthless and fabulous Madison in Coven, and the comparatively chastise Maggie in Freak Show, she brings a sense of both modern confidence and classical style to the show. It seems Emma Roberts is unable to appear in Hotel due to her headlining Ryan Murphy's other show, Scream Queens, in which the maniacal murderous lust of Glee is taken to it's logical conclusion.
It would be great if any of these names could make a return in American Horror Story: Hotel, and since the loss of Jessica Lange, we need to savour anything we can get! Still, American Horror Story is nothing if not unpredictable, so we shouldn't be surprised if any of these actors do in fact screw with our expectations come October!