'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy on latest 'Coven'
[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LATEST AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN!!!!!]
On the latest American Horror Story: Coven, we learned what makes Madame LaLaurie tick, and it wasn’t pretty. Meanwhile, Spalding introduced her to the magical powers of antihistamines, and Fiona got all ax-happy on the witch hunters. EW talked to co-creator Ryan Murphy about the latest Coven as well as the easter eggs for season 4 he’s begun hiding in these episodes.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tonight we learned that LaLaurie’s gruesome torturing of slaves was inspired by her interest in people’s biology. Was that something you all invented? Or was that inspired by the real LaLaurie?
RYAN MURPHY: That was based on stuff where we read about her fascination with peeling people’s faces off. She was fascinated with anatomy and she was fascinated with how things worked. So with that research in mind, we did make that conclusion that’s probably why she did it. But also historically with a lot of crazy deranged serial killers, a lot of that behavior starts with a desensitization that starts when you are 10-14 and you see something die and you cut it open. [Jeffrey] Dahmer started that way. There are a lot of male serial killers that had that fascination with killing little pets and birds. So we applied that stuff that we know now to the LaLaurie psychology. Nothing that we did with her could we prove 100 percent. We just tried to get inside her head and figure out like “My God, what a monster, and how could anybody do that?”
She was starting to get a little likable for a while, and now she is definitely not.
I never thought that. People said that, but I think she’s likable only because Kathy Bates is so charming. When I saw Misery, I loved that character. Kathy is a real genius at getting to the heart and humor of someone and that goes a long way. We got a lot of comments about that.
We also got a lot of comments about people really misunderstanding Kathy Bates’ head crying [after Queenie made her watch civil rights footage]. She was not crying because she was moved; she was crying for another reason that she reveals in the next two episodes. I always thought she was one of the most dastardly people we’ve ever attempted.
I do enjoy that LaLaurie and Spalding are like a duo now.
My favorite part of that is the magical elixir known as Benadryl. The Benadryl people were really cool about it. We could show the box, but we couldn’t say the word. I was like, “Okay, we’ll take that.”
I don’t think Jessica Lange has ever done something so gruesome in her AHS run than taking an ax to someone’s head.
Well, that’s a good story, because we originally wrote that a completely different way. I’ve always been very conscious of the fact that two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange sometimes does not enjoy the gore of the show. So we wrote that scene originally with Angela and Jessica on Skype and that they refused to show up. The entire scene was going to be them on this big TV screen, watching the guys being massacred and thus being protected. Jessica read it and said, “Well why does The Axeman get to have all the fun? I want to be in that room.” So we rewrote it, and I think she was right.
I love that Marie Laveau requests a Diet Sprite. She’s immortal but watching her figure.
Didn’t you love that?
So Marie has been knocked unconscious. What can you say about what will happen to her?
Basically what she was going to do to Kathy Bates, which she did — Marie cut Delphine into many, many parts and threatened to scatter her around the city — Kathy does that same thing to Marie. Marie is still alive, but her body parts are scattered all over the city, perhaps never to be united again. The question in the next episode: Who can put this very glamorous Humpty Dumpty back together again?
So will we see Angela Bassett as just a head?
No. You’ll see Angela Bassett again in the next episode, but that’s the question. It was always going to be Marie against Delphine. The next episode addresses what will become of this rivalry and who will win, ultimately. That’s really what it’s about.
Will Fiona and The Axeman get a happy ending? Those don’t really happen on American Horror Story.
Well, the entire episode is really about, What is Fiona going to do? She said her plan: She’s going to identify the Supreme. Kill that Supreme. Guarantee herself another run of life and run away with The Axeman. So the next episode is about that, about Fiona and The Axeman and their deadly plan to kill everyone.
Speaking of running away, Zoe and Kyle seemed to leave town. Are they gone for good?
They are in the next episode. We see what happens when they go to Epcot. They’re going to Epcot. I’m absolutely obsessed with Myrtle giving them her jar of jewelry.
That entire scene of Myrtle’s explanation of her jewelry and her past made me think you were responsible for that, like the Lee Radziwill and Diane Von Furstenberg mentions.
You are correct! I love all that stuff. I was like, “Let’s write a monologue and I can put all my obsessions in.” It’s always so fun to give Franny any monologue. Franny never breaks character. Sarah Paulson, for example, has an incredibly difficult time keeping it together and always bursts out laughing.
You had told me last week that Cordelia does something terrible, and holy hell. How did you guys even shoot that? Were those CG scissors?
You have the eye poker-outer device, and basically you cut it in half. So Sarah’s holding the base. Then, in post, you add the long part that touches the eye. That was an incredibly brutal scene to do, but Sarah likes that stuff. Perhaps of all the actresses on the show, Sarah likes stuff that’s really out there, because she likes to go for it, she likes to try it. I like to see how far, how willing Cordelia is to go to, as the title suggests, protect the coven. She will go as far as to blind herself. In many ways for me, she is the most heroic character of the whole season. She’s the only one we’ve established from day one who puts her interests second. The coven is more important to her than herself.
We never saw the aftermath. Will she get the second sight back?
The whole next episode is Cordelia realizing her mother’s plan, which is to kill everyone and leave with The Axeman. Cordelia is obviously Fiona’s daughter in many ways other than she’s got some of that sass and smarts. So can she save the day? Or will she herself perish?
It seems like there’s more and more potential Supremes. Will it become more clear?
No, I think it becomes more clear. There’s an interesting thing we said early and repeat again that in times of crisis, witches’ power rise. So the next two episodes are really about: Who is the Supreme? But then again, Fiona could kill them all and the entire last episode could just be about Fiona shopping in Paris with The Axeman, so you have to watch.
We didn’t see Misty this episode. Will we see her again?
Well, time’s running out for Misty. She’s trapped in that tomb. And there’s not a lot of oxygen in those tombs, and people usually die of dehydration after three days. We we do address what happens or happened to her, yes.
You had told me before that you would start putting in teases for season 4 in the final episodes. Is there one in this episode?
Yes. There has been in the last episode actually, looking back at it. The easter eggs are there.
Can you give us an idea of what we should be looking for?
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.