Lily Rabe on playing Eleanor Roosevelt’s companion in ‘The First Lady,’ dual roles on ‘American Horror Story’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

Lily Rabe takes on three very different characters this season between Showtime’s “The First Lady” and “American Horror Story: Double Feature.” In the former, the actress costars as Lorena Hickok, beloved companion of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, with the series exploring their well-documented relationship that turned romantic. “There’s this wonderful feeling of responsibility when you play anyone,” says Rabe in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby, “but certainly more so when you’re playing a real person.” Watch the full video chat above.

Rabe was surprised to learn just how much information there was on Hickok and Roosevelt’s relationship. Much of her research came from the letters they sent each other, which she describes as “some of the most romantic, gorgeous letters I’ve ever read.” The actress observes that the pair’s shared similarities as forward-thinking women likely drew themselves to each other. “They probably felt, I would think, partnered, to have someone kind of marching in a similar pace next to them and to be able to kind of invisibly hold one another’s hands through that time.”

She ultimately found a great working partnership with Gillian Anderson, who plays Mrs. Roosevelt. Rabe found that her process was similar to Anderson’s, with both of them digging deep into their characters even into the late hours of the night. “It’s all the things I would be doing by myself, but I got to do it with her because she was so available to that and I think sort of similar in the way that she just doesn’t stop.”

For “American Horror Story: Double Feature,” Rabe took on another famous figure from that time period, Amelia Earhart, with the show offering an extraterrestrial explanation for her famous disappearance. “She’s so incredible and mesmerizing and just herself at this time when it’s sort of jaw-dropping that she was so completely and fully exactly who she was,” the actress praises, admitting she didn’t want to stop exploring the character despite her screen time being brief.

The actress got more to do in the other half of the season as Doris, a pregnant woman who gradually goes mad in Provincetown. While the darkness of the material isn’t always easy for her to let go of, the reason she keeps coming back for more is the community she’s formed with her cast and crew. “It’s something that I always want to go back to because I think it leads to having a space to do, hopefully, your best work.”

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