'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy on latest 'Coven'
[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LATEST AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN!!!!!]
The “White Witch” finally made her much-anticipated debut last night on American Horror Story: Coven. Yes, the one and only Stevie Nicks popped up as a pal of Fiona’s and gave the Miss Robichaux ladies a little private concert. Elsewhere, Nan, Joan and (maybe?) Misty perished. Plus, Marie did an awesome thing her tongue. EW talked to co-creator Ryan Murphy about all this and more, like which witches are gone for good.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s talk about Stevie first. Did she have a blast? How did she feel about the experience?
RYAN MURPHY: She did have a blast. She was nervous because she’s never acted. But it’s one of those weird things where you mythologize somebody for months and months and months in the scripts and then you tell the actors “Oh by the way, that person is coming.” So the anticipation for her on the set with the cast and the crew was great and everybody wanted to meet her and take pictures with her and talk to her. She’s one of those ladies that’s so gracious. She’s just an amazing soul and kind. I love that she did those songs. She just had a ball. She was also very interested in the acting part of it so she spent a lot of time on set watching them and really getting into it. Everybody couldn’t say enough good things about Stevie Nicks nor could I. She’s a great person.
How did you come up with which songs she sings?
I chose “Rhiannon.” At the end, I definitely knew I wanted her to do “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You” which is one of my favorite songs. I thought it oddly applied to the Jessica Lange character where Fiona has had all these great opportunities and squandered them and is just looking for some peace after her horrific acts. So that was great and Stevie loved that idea. And “Rhiannon,” we put that in the script months ago and at that point I hadn’t even imagined Stevie could do the show. That song is very witchy and fun.
Now, everyone at home can learn to twirl like Stevie Nicks.
I’ve seen her in concert and Stevie Nicks is famous for her twirling and her shawl changes. I said to the writers, “Do you think Stevie would have a sense of humor about this?” Knowing her I thought I think she’ll go for it and she did. Nobody twirls like Stevie Nicks.
Lily is a pretty good twirler.
All the girls watched Stevie Nicks on repeat to get that twirl down, believe you me.
And she’ll be back still?
Yes, she’s the complete cold opening of the last episode.
Can you say if she sings?
Oh yes! Yes! It’s a Stevie Nicks music video extravagaaaaanza!
Misty sort of had the best day and the worst day. She met Stevie and then was buried alive by Madison. Is that the last we’ve seen of her?
Well there’s two things going on with Misty Day. How does one get out of a tomb? Can she get out of it or is she buried alive? We’ll revisit her torment as the clock is ticking.
I think that might have been one of our favorite scenes we’ve ever done with Lily and Emma. I love how Emma twirls away. It was great fun!
Speaking of people dying, is Joan really dead? Also, I love that you got Patti LuPone to drink bleach. Only you, Ryan Murphy!
[Laughs] I know. God bless Patti LuPone. Yes that is the end of Patti LuPone’s character this season.
Have you talked to her about coming back for season four?
You know there’s always a place for Patti on the show. I wanted her to do more episodes. The thing about Patti is she has such an extensive life as a concert vocalist and she travels all over the country. We were just lucky to get her for the number of episodes we did. Everybody knows she’s a great singer but I thought her acting was incredible. I thought she took a very big character and made it very real and relatable and not insane. I think she’s fantastic.
What about Nan? Is she definitely dead?
Nan is sadly gone for good. I can confirm that Nan is no more.
So Marie gives Papa Legba a baby each year to maintain immortality? Does he like eat that baby? What does he do with them?
It’s not always a baby—it’s an innocent soul. I just think he takes them, he collects them. That’s based on a long myth of that character. I like that there’s a voodoo version of the devil.
His look was great. He was sorta like a scarier Rob Zombie.
We worked on his look. He’s a very fascinating character. There’s a lot of pictures of different versions of what he looked like. So we looked a lot of them and took a bit from this and a bit from that but he does have sort of a great Rob Zombie style.
He’s back for more episodes, too, right?
Oh yeah. Papa is back.
One of my favorite moments all season is Angela Bassett sticking out her tongue rapidly and screaming in the opening sequence. Who came up with that?
Alfonso [Gomez-Rejon] is such a great director. I think that’s something that he and Angela came up with together. She’s come up with her own Marie Laveau vernacular and we’re glad she has!
Will the truce between Marie and Fiona hold?
Well we have been building towards a truce and I think the viewers want there to be. If you’re watching the show, you’re very invested in these two powerful women joining forces because then they would be unstoppable. But Fiona is not to be trusted and neither is Marie. Is it real? Do they have an agenda and what is that agenda? We explore that in the next couple of episodes.
We didn’t see LaLaurie in this episode. Will she be back next week?
Yes. Next week is Kathy’s heaviest episode that we’ve ever done with her on the show. It’s a great episode for her. It’s really upsetting because a lot of it is about the origin story for Madame LaLaurie. We read a lot about her and the question I always had is How does this woman who’s a cultured socialite and someone educated become such a brutal serial killer monster? Where does that come from? What was the first moment where she did what she did? We see that, we explore that. It’s a great Kathy Bates gets her revenge moment.
We didn’t see Queenie either. Is there a chance we’ll see her again?
Yes Queenie is in the next episode. We find out what happens to her.
It seems to be building to a battle between the witch hunters and the covens. Will that happen sooner rather than later?
That’s next week’s episode which is called “Protect the Coven” so all the stories in that are about different people having their own agendas about having to protect that sect of witchdom. There’s a great, great scene that is a big stand-off that we do in there that I give Jessica Lange complete credit for.
Cordelia had such a bummer episode. Will she figure out her place?
I don’t know that she’s so much lost as she doesn’t have a belief in her powers. The question is Can she come into her own? Will she come into her own?
So will things get better for her?
It gets much worse before it gets better, in typical fashion. The next episode Sarah had to do one of the most upsetting things she’s ever had to do on the show but it’s great. She’s really desperate to get that power back and what lengths will she go to do it?
What was Myrtle playing?!
A theremin. If you’re a fan of science fiction films of the ‘50s, it’s connected to horror/outer space movies usually. It’s just a very odd instrument that’s very specific to the sci-fi horror genre. I just thought Myrtle would definitely play and instrument and it had to be the theremin.
One of my favorite images—and this is what the spin-off should be—is Myrtle’s suggestion that Cordelia become a cruise director.
Right? I love that. Poor Myrtle. I thought that was really funny. Myrtle means well but her advice is terrible.
American Horror Story
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.