Although it sounded like Sarah Paulson was going to sit out of the upcoming season of American Horror Story, new reports are claiming she will actually appear in Season 9, just in a much smaller role than she has had in previous seasons. Naturally, now fans are trying to figure out what this truncated American Horror Story: 1984 role for Paulson could be. One theory that is popping up among the fandom is that Paulson may reprise her Asylum role in the new season. So, will Sarah Paulson play Lana Winters in AHS: 1984? Here's why fans think she may be bringing back one of her fan-favorite characters.
Last week, news broke that Sarah Paulson would not be starring in American Horror Story: 1984 as she instead focuses on her other Ryan Murphy project, Netflix's upcoming One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest prequel series Ratched. However, just because she will not be starring in the new season does not mean she will not appear. Deadline followed up those reports with confirmation that Paulson does still have a role in AHS: 1984, but it is much smaller than her roles in past seasons. This will be the first time that Paulson has not had a lead role in a season of AHS since the show's debut season, in which she recurred as medium Billie Dean Howard.
The news of Sarah Paulson's smaller role in the season already has fans speculating about who she might be playing, and one of the predominant theories is that she may be returning briefly to her Asylum role Lana Winters.
Two of the most convincing reasons why Sarah Paulson might be playing Lana Winters in the upcoming season are the time period and Paulson's truncated role. Since it sounds like Paulson may only be in a few scenes of AHS: 1984 at most, it stands to reason that the best use of her would be to bring back a character that fans of the show already know and love. Plus, as the season's title reveals, the new season is set in the '80s, so Lana Winters would be a veteran journalist by that time, since her first appearance in Asylum was during the '60s.
One fan theory imagines that Lana Winters may show up at the end of the slasher-movie season to interview the survivors, and another guesses that the season may focus on a cast of actors turning Lana's book Maniac into a horror movie.
If Sarah Paulson does return to the show as Lana Winters, it would not be the first time that she will have revisited the character. Paulson originated the journalist character as a lead role in AHS: Asylum, and then reprised the role as a much older version of Lana for an episode of AHS: Roanoke. Lana is also mentioned briefly at the end of AHS: Cult, confirming she is still alive and selectively working as a respected journalist in 2017. With 1984 being set 20 years after Asylum, Lana Winters would presumably be in her 50s if she appears in the new season, and past appearances have confirmed she continues to work as a journalist well beyond that age.
American Horror Story: 1984 will premiere on FX on Sept. 18.