American Horror Story Season 2 Interview: Franka Potente Discusses Playing Anne Frank

TV Equals was happy to get the chance to learn more about American Horror Story‘s latest episode, “I Am Anne Frank, Pt. 1,” from the actress portraying Frank, Franka Potente. From the conference call with Potente, it was revealed how Potente landed the role, what it’s like to work on such a creepy set, what she’s afraid of and more.

How Potente was approached

Potente said she was approached by the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy about the role of Anne Frank.

“I got asked to take a general meeting with Ryan Murphy so I went to the Paramount lot and met him in his very nice office,” she said. “And I didn’t really expect anything and he went right ahead and was talking about a really awesome cool part he had for me.”

She said he didn’t tell her too much about the role, but she was excited to be working with Murphy. “I was a fan of the first season of American Horror Story and of course, said I would be part of anything he was envisioning for me,” she said.

What it’s like to play Anne Frank

During the conference call, Potente talked about her connection to the historical Anne Frank.

“I think Anne Frank and her diary are known worldwide. It’s probably the most famous books ever. And like every other high school student, I read it in school. I’ve visited The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. She’s Dutch, but she spent a few years living in Germany,” she said. “So, I knew things, but I kind of looked at the diary again to refresh my memory a little bit. [The book is] one of the landmarks of historic…heroes.”

Being on set

“The set is pretty eerie, which is great for an actor, because we basically need to step on,” she said when discussing working on the scary set. “The mood is already created; we say our lines and that’s that. That’s only half the magic. It’s so cool and creepy…It’s really Catholic. It’s really intimidating and dark and regal. Very impressive.”

Working with James Cromwell and Jessica Lange

“When I went to work I would tell my husband ‘I’m going to take some acting lessons now,'” she said, jokingly when discussing her acting days with James Cromwell and Jessica Lange. “I think in the beginning it was a little bit intimidating. I remember my very first day at work was only scenes with Jessica and I think I had about 20 pages of lines. I was very, very nervous, didn’t want to mess it up, didn’t really speak that well–that still happens after 16 years on the job–and…she was very sweet and kind, very focused, really embraced working with me and…it felt really good. We worked together, made it happen, really brought something to the table and [James] is just awesome. He’s a very curious man, very knowledgeable man, he’ll talk with you…I had an awesome time with the two of them.”

Filming the fight scene
In last night’s episode, Potente and Cromwell have a short, but intense, fighting sequence. As it turns out, it wasn’t so short.

“When you watch the show, the way it’s edited so fast, it’s probably a minute and a half. [When] we shot that scene, it probably took us about six or seven hours…We were sweating. It was awesome, it really was a lot of work…There was so much adrenaline going, with the scenes like this, you get rush from it.”

The possibilities of an older Anne Frank

Potente said that thinking about what Anne Frank would have been like is one of the things that she loves about her role.

“I love the idea, and this is what movie magic is all about, [of] what if? What if she were still around? She’d be my age, and what would she be like?” she said. “And to indulge in that for a little bit, until we learn…it’s not Anne Frank, it’s a person who took over that [persona] in a frantic episode…[T]here might be a lot of women I guess at the time that did that, but for that moment to indulge in the possibility–that’s what movies are made of.”

What scares Potente

Even though she’s part of a very creepy show, there’s not much that scares Potente anymore.

“I used to be really afraid of flying…it would creep me out, make me very tense…I was very scared of dying and all that stuff, but I’m not anymore, because I’m traveling with a small child, and I really realized that certain fears are like a luxury,” she said. “They need to be indulged in order to exist. To be very honest with you, these days I don’t have much time to indulge in any fears and stuff like that, but I’m not very good with watching scary movies. I’ve certainly seen The Exorcist, the classics, but I’m not very good with watching that kind of stuff.”

She’s also not good with the title sequence from American Horror Story.

“Even just the title sequence from Season One I remember was so–I don’t even know what the word for that is–it really gets you,” she said.

“I Am Anne Frank, Pt. 2” airs November 14 at 10/9c on FX.