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The American Horror Story Character Kathy Bates Nearly Played In Red Tide

"American Horror Story: Double Feature" premiered in August with a first-time premise for the show — instead of the usual anthology format, wherein each season offers a new storyline, Season 10 was split into two halves. The first half was "Red Tide," about an author and his family moving to Provincetown only to discover secrets and bloodthirsty mutants lurk around every corner. The second half was "Death Valley" which told the story of the government's involvement with aliens and their abductions leading into the modern day. This half mirrored the double feature concept of the season on a deeper level, as it also had two storylines — one from the past and one from the present. 

"Red Tide" was originally supposed to air in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed back production on the show. Ryan Murphy, the creator of "American Horror Story" posted back in February of 2020 that the cast of "Red Tide" would be featuring the likes of Billie Lourd, Finn Wittrock, Angelica Ross, and Kathy Bates. 

Viewers may have noticed though, when the show eventually aired in 2021, Bates was no longer in the cast lineup (per E! News) This was reportedly due to health issues Bates was experiencing (Bates is a cancer survivor and has lymphedema, per Today). Bates appears to be okay now, as she has maintained an active Twitter presence, but in light of her absence, many fans have wondered who she would've played in Season 10, if things had gone according to the original plan.

Bates was casted to play Belle Noir

Based on the fact that the character Kathy Bates was meant to play was instead taken on by Frances Conroy (per E! News), it seems clear that she would have been taking on the role of Belle Noir.

Belle Noir played a major role in the "Red Tide" narrative, as one the season's main antagonists. As revealed over the course of the season, Belle first comes to Provincetown on a small book tour with her husband, whereupon she ends up coming into contact with the Chemist, and is the first person to test out the infamous black pills. The pills are successful on Belle, as she writes her first hit novel — and murders her husband. She then joins forces with the Chemist to distribute the pills, while using them to become a famous, wealthy, and acclaimed author.

When the season's protagonist, Harry (Finn Witrock) and his family come to town, Belle Noir and her sidekick Austin (Evan Peters) get Harry hooked onto the black pills. However, Harry accidentally allows his daughter Alma (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) to use the black pills, which angers Belle Noir, who now wants the whole family dead. The conflict becomes a focal point of the season and leads into the season's finale. 

It certainly would have been very interesting to see how Bates would have taken on this lead role in the season, especially considering Belle Noir ended up being one of the more popular characters of "Red Tide." However, Ryan Murphy is known to keep actors within the "American Horror Story" family around for new seasons, so it's likely that viewers will get to see Bates return in the next season.