Emma Roberts talks 'Scream Queens': 'It's 'Mean Girls' meets 'Friday the 13th''
American Horror Story actress Emma Roberts, who has appeared on the Coven and Freak Show seasons of the FX series, is reuniting with AHS creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk for this fall’s new horror comedy Scream Queens. EW debuted the first images from the series last week and revealed the super secretive plot which involves a masked killer stalking the Kappa sorority at fictional Wallace University. Roberts plays the president of the sorority and talked to EW about the highly anticipated new Fox series.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What made you want to be part of Scream Queens?
EMMA ROBERTS: I’m the biggest Ryan Murphy fan. I mean Glee, American Horror Story. When we were more than half way through Freak Show, he called me and he was like, “I have this new show. It’s kind of Heathers meets Halloween and I want you to be the lead.” I was like, “Excuse me? That sounds like my dream.” He told me more about it and more about the character. I had just come off doing American Horror Story: Coven, which was my favorite season of the show and so fun to be a part of. Scream Queens definitely has a little bit of that Coven girl-power vibe which I love and a lot of the humor that Coven had. He told me more specifically about Chanel Oberlin. She’s the president of Kappa house and she’s the queen bee on campus. She’s very fashionable and very to the point. She’s a bit of a mean girl but in a very funny way. Ian Brad and Ryan do humor so well. I remember reading the script for the first time and I was literally laughing out loud. I had to put the script down. It was just one of those things I was so flattered they wanted me to be a part of it. I’ve been wanting to do more comedy and it’s definitely a very comedic show—a dark comedy, but still a comedy.
Is she like your Coven character, Madison Montgomery?
I would love to see Chanel and Madison go head to head. I honestly don’t know who would win.
I heard Chanel’s godfather is Karl Lagerfeld.
Yes. I want to be Chanel. The clothes are amazing. Actually a lot of the clothes are vintage Chanel. I already have dibs on half my wardrobe. Everything is very pastel. Everyone has sort of certain colors they wear. I remember seeing the set for the first time and I was just in shock. It’s like every girl’s dream. The sorority house looks like a Barbie dream house.
So your sorority is under siege from the Red Devil killer?
Yeah it starts out on a college campus. It’s kind of a modern take on the classic whodunit. What I love is you really don’t know who is the killer and you don’t know who is going to die. We just finished shooting the first two episodes and literally the ending, I was like “What do you mean?” I called Ryan and I was in shock. I already am nagging them for the third script. Like, I need to know what happens.
Jamie Lee Curtis is the dean and she wants you to be incorporating of your sorority?
Well Kappa is a sorority that is very mean. They only want pretty girls. They want everyone to be very cookie cutter. Dean Cathy Munsch, played by the amazing Jamie Lee Curtis, basically wants to shut Kappa down. She knows she can’t really do it, so she and Chanel are going head to head and pulling out all the stops to take each other down. She makes Chanel have to accept everyone into the sorority so anyone who pledges has to be accepted. To Chanel, that’s completely crazy talk. It means that anyone she thinks is a loser now has to be accepted into the sorority. The sorority kind of becomes a sorority of misfits. They have to band together because of a murder that happens. It’s really fun because you see all these different personalities under one roof. People you don’t think come together, come together. You never know who’s gonna be on whose side.
Have you been working on your scream?
Luckily I have some practice from Scream 4. There’s been a lot of screaming, running, a lot of fun horror action that you would expect. A lot of night shoots. It’s been fun. I can’t even imagine how it’s going to end.
You don’t know who the killer is.
Nooo. It is similar to Horror Story in the sense that where everything is kinda kept really secret, you never know what’s going to happen. I had dinner with Ryan just him and I and he still wouldn’t tell me! I feel like that’s how he gets these great performances out of everyone on American Horror Story and now Scream Queens because when you don’t know you’re just acting what you already know and therefore it seems like you know. It’s good because certain things you don’t want to read into too deeply. As an actor on the show, I’m finding things along with my character.
Lea Michele basically is one of the new recruits who’s obsessed with Chanel?
I can’t look at Lea in a scene because she makes me laugh. She’s so funny. She’s honestly so genius with comedy. We’ll be doing a scene where I’ll be giving everyone my death glare and I’ll have to skip Lea because I’ll start cracking up. It’s been really fun to work with her because I was such a fan of Glee. She and I have really hit it off.
So I hear that Abigail Breslin, Billie Lourd, and Ariana Grande are all your henchwomen?
They’re my minions.
And they’re all named Chanel?
Well Chanel just doesn’t care what anyone’s actual name is and she’s so self-centered that she just calls them Chanel #2, Chanel #3 and Chanel #5. I believe Chanel #4 actually died. Even when we walk down the hall we have to walk in a certain formation. Ryan always tell us to listen to music in their head when we’re walking.
Tell everyone why they should watch Scream Queens.
I think it’s just the perfect blend of horror, comedy, fashion. It’s kind of the dream show. I remember saying to Ryan, “I thank you for casting me in this because if you didn’t I would be so mad at you because I love it so much.” It’s Mean Girls meets Friday the 13th. I think it’s laugh-out-loud funny, it’s edge-of-your-seat scary and everyone is wearing Chanel. What other reasons do you need?