Has your story line this season changed your opinion of ghosts? Do you believe in them?
I do think there’s a spiritual element in the world, yes. Have I experienced a ghost firsthand, per se? No. I guess I’ve experienced feelings or some kind of a presence. But I certainly haven’t seen any kind of transparent entity running around. And they certainly don’t fly in my mouth the way they do to Lafayette.
At the end of last episode, it seemed like Arlene had already forgiven Lafayette. Is that going to last?
I think for Arlene, she’s just relieved to have the child back; any ambivalent feeling she had about the child went away once that fire happened and she realized just how much she loved him and was going to do whatever she could to protect him. What I think has been interesting about my character this season is it also kind of taps into every parent’s fear that they might be raising some kind of demon child. Not a literal one — but, What if I don’t know how to raise this child? Or what if this child winds up having problems that I can’t handle?
Right. Somebody has to be the parent of a serial killer.
[Laughs.] No doubt.
As a redheaded source of comic relief on TV, to what extent are you influenced by Lucille Ball?
Obviously Lucy is amazing and brilliant, but the redhead who inspires me more is Carol Burnett. When I was a kid and watched her show, I thought she was the most tremendous character actor ever. I kinda wanted to be her. But it obviously wasn’t because of the red hair.
Having been raised in Georgia, can you confirm your co-star Nelsan Ellis’s claim that women down South call each other “hooker”?
Right! Yeah! We don’t have the “hooker” so much in Georgia [laughs]. That’s more of an Alabama thing.
Can you tell us about meeting your husband, Michael Emerson?
We met at the very end of 1994. I had just gotten out of Juilliard to do the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. I saw him in a play — they were doing, of all things, A Christmas Carol. And there he was, playing like four or five different characters. Every time he came onstage, he had a different accent. I just was taken with this guy putting so much effort and talent into A Christmas Carol, and making it so watchable. I turned to my mom and said, “You see that guy? That guy is brilliant.”
And since you were in Alabama, he called you “hooker.”
[Laughs.] Maybe behind my back!
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