'American Horror Story: Coven': Ryan Murphy talks 'Boy Parts'
[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LATEST EPISODE OF AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN!!!!]
The second episode of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s American Horror Story: Coven was chock-full of plot developments, including the resurrection of seemingly dead Misty (Lily Rabe) and Kyle (Evan Peters) and the reveal that modern-day Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) has kept alive her minotaur lover! EW talked to Murphy about all the twists and turns as well as a preview of next week’s AHS: Coven.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I love that Misty is a big Stevie Nicks groupie.
RYAN MURPHY: She is obsessed with Stevie Nicks because I am obsessed with Stevie Nicks.
You actually asked Stevie to use her music on the show, right?
Yeah, the whole thing started with the fact that when I was growing up, I was always obsessed with those Stevie Nicks songs like “Riannon” and “Gypsy.” And I remember reading an article where Courtney Love called Stevie Nicks the “white witch” and Grace Slick the “dark witch.” And I have a good relationship with Stevie because of Glee. She is one of the few artists that have come to hang out. She had been writing Lea [Michele] and I regularly since the Cory [Monteith] situation, because she really loved Cory [who passed away in July]. So she’s just a wonderful, wonderful person.
When we got to this witch idea, I thought, if you’re Misty and you have grown up alone and you don’t know any other witches, there’s one witch you probably would know and that’s Stevie Nicks. So I called Stevie Nicks and first I said, “I want to use you in the show.” But she was very resistant because from the beginning of her career people who are in the Wiccan community had given her a hard time thinking she was a witch and she got a lot of scary fan letters. She didn’t like the darkness of that, and I explained to her the part and she’s like, “Aw f—, let’s just do it. OK, I love it.” She’s not a witch, but she has an attraction to those mystical creatures because they’re fun to write about. So she gave me the rights to her music and she and Lindsay Buckingham are working on a special sort of redo of a song they did about a witch.
In episode 3, Lily does a brilliant one-minute Stevie Nicks twirl. It’s all about my love of Stevie Nicks.
I love that Asylum ended with Mary Eunice perishing in the furnace and Coven began with Misty being resurrected after burning at the stake.
We thought about that. We wanted Sister Mary Eunice to die in the flames and we sort of wanted Lily this year to be born in the flames. It all was for the great symmetry. And of course I wanted Lily to play the opposite.
Is Misty romantically interested in Zoe? Or is she just looking for a friend?
I think Misty is just an asexual character. I think she just wants to be part of a tribe. I love what we’re writing with the witches being a metaphor for any persecuted minority group. She grew up not knowing or seeing anybody else who was like her. I think a lot of people can relate to that idea.
Will she start interacting with the Miss Robichaux women and leave the swamp?
Well, both. She loves her damp swamp shack. But we’re playing with a witch hunter idea this year. She at one point is discovered. She doesn’t want to live in this world; this world is too hard for her. But at a certain point she has to adapt or die.
Zoe and Kyle’s romance is similar to season 1’s doomed Violet and Tate romance.
It is doomed, but I think it is oddly more hopeful. I feel like based on what you saw in “Boy Parts,” I loved the creation myth of him. It’s like Build a Boyfriend Bar. I love that idea. And I just love that he becomes this monster who is only in love and can protect one person, his creator. So it’s sort of a reverse Dr. Frankenstein.
Will Kyle talk and seem normal again? Or will he be a grunting Frankenstein?
Well, that’s an interesting thing, because Evan is really killing this part this year. The next episode has an insane Kyle/Evan story. He’s such a great actor, and I love what he does physically. He really has risen to the challenge of the part. It’s really hard to not speak for a television show, because television shows are pretty much all about dialogue. The question is: Can he be rehabilitated? Can she help him move towards becoming a man? Or is he always going to be a monster? Or is he going to sort of be a combination of both?
In the next episode, he says his first word and then he pretty much stays in that mode for a while. I also love any opportunity to do a Pygmalion story.
Will we meet his mother?
Oh yes. The next episode. That is a great, great part. I went after Mare Winningham, who I have loved loved loved from afar and I want her to join the American Horror Story family, and I’ve always loved her work. So I wrote this part with the writers. She did it as a favor and she’s quite spectacular in it, I think. She’s some Ninth District white trash. Mare Winningham really knocks it out of the park and has to do some incredible things.
So the other thing that reminded me of AHS season 1 was Cordelia’s fertility struggles — will this be another dark pregnancy?
That is dealt with and put to bed in the next episode. I was not interested in doing another baby thing. We’ve done that a few years in a row. I thought, Let’s give that a break. I don’t love the baby storyline for Cordelia so much as I love the struggle. I thought that idea of, Would you even tempt the devil doing these black-magic spells? And I think a lot of women would. The in vitro is incredibly difficult and emotionally painful. Sarah and Angela Bassett have just a great scene in the next episode, which is sort of like, What is the voodoo version of in vitro? So we researched it and actually came across this insane, f—ed up spell that people do, that many celebrities supposedly have done, which I thought was also fascinating. And it’s not cheap! And it’s not cheap if you go to Angela’s voodoo queen. She’s not going to charge you $5. It’s a lot of money.
My favorite scene in the entire episode is the fight between Fiona and Marie in her salon. It’s like two lionesses squaring off.
I love that scene too. I think anytime you can get Jessica Lange with Angela Bassett or Kathy Bates doing these baroque arias, I love it. You can tell, I think, from Jessica and Angela’s performances that there was a lot of joy on set that day. They love those words and they loved going at each other because that’s a really rare thing. We’re doing a lot of those this year. We’re doing a lot of Jessica-Kathy-Angela scenes. Sometimes alone. Sometimes the three of them together, just because they are the best of the best of the best. The first time I saw that scene, I literally cackled with glee. I thought it was so fun. They had so much fun. They have admired each other for so many years.
The reveal at the end is that not only is Marie immortal, but she’s made her minotaur boyfriend immortal too.
Oh, yes. Well that’s the myth of Marie Laveau. Like, supposedly she really does walk among us. Jessica talks about it in that scene. There is a shrine to her, but it’s always rumored that she never died. They never found out what happened to Delphine LaLaurie. They never found out what happened to The Axeman who comes in episode 7. So I just find that whole myth of New Orleans — it’s the only city where the villains and the heroes just sort of disappear into the past.
Is the Minotaur sort of this season’s Rubberman or Bloody Face?
Yes. I don’t want to say too much about it. Yes, he is.
It seems like he’s her henchman.
Well, when your boyfriend gets turned into a minotaur, what are you going to do? I think she keeps him in that backroom and has great sex with him and takes him out to do her bidding. I think that’s what she does. I think he was near death and she gave him some of the immortal tears that she gave Kathy Bates. Then, she keeps him back there and talks to him and hangs out at Cornrow City.
Wait — her salon is called Cornrow City?!?!
You mentioned The Axeman and he’s played by Magic City’s Danny Huston. He’s also a love interest for Fiona, right?
Yes. It’s a really great, very adult love story. Both Danny and Jessica are incredibly gorgeous hot tamales. Constance had Travis the first year. Certainly Sister Jude had no love interest. I wanted to give her something with weight. I’m really interested in that idea of finding love in your second act. Then the question is, What do you do if you’re a witch and a serial killer? How do you make that work? It’s hard. It’s a lot of f—ed-up baggage!
Does she know he’s a serial killer?
Oh, I can’t say. I can’t say too much about that. But it comes out.
So he’s based on a real person?
The Axeman was the Zodiac Killer of his day. He terrorized New Orleans and he wrote letters to the newspaper. He was never ever found.
We got some of the origin story for Queenie in this episode. Will we see Nan’s origin story?
Yes. But we will do that much later in the season. It’s a great story. I think Jamie is really hilarious and good, and I love her. I love that character. I love her power. We’ll be getting to that, but later in the year.
And is next week when we meet Patti LuPone?
Yes! Patti LuPone!
And she moves in next door to Miss Robichaux’s with her son, right?
Yes, she does.
So she plays Joan Ramsey, a very Christian woman, and I’m guessing living next door to witches does not sit well with her.
Yeah, she doesn’t like it at all. Also, that’s an episode where there’s a great big scene between Patti and Jessica, who are actually friends in real life. So that’s another one of those, Wow, look at these two legends going after each other.
Patti has made a career of these almost operatic creations. Sweeney Todd. Gypsy. Evita. Patti is a great dramatic actress. I wanted for Patti to do something where she’s very controlled and very not like you’ve ever seen her before. Her character continues throughout the season.
And her son gets involved with the girls of Miss Robichaux’s?
You could say that, yes. The question is, Which one will he like?
What’s episode 3 called?
It’s called “The Replacements.” It has it all. It has Mare. It has Patti. It has a brilliant turn from Kathy Bates, where poor Delphine gets put through the wringer by Jessica Lange.
So what’s that relationship going to be like between Fiona and Delphine?
Well, she doesn’t wanna go back in the box. And I think once Fiona finds out her true crimes, Fiona isn’t really interested in anything but torturing her. Fiona is a very liberal witch. So what do you do? She can’t get a job. Marie Laveau is after her. She can’t leave the house. Her adaptation to society is a very rough one.
An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a haunted house, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, and a hotel.