'American Horror Story' exclusive: Ryan Murphy on the debut of Mr. March and who turned The Countess
[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE LATEST AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL!!!]
The second episode of FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel added some more characters to the mix. Viewers met Evan Peters’ crazed Mr. March, who built the Hotel Cortez, and Finn Wittrock’s unstable male model Tristan. The Countess (Lady Gaga) also teased how she was transformed into a blood-sucking killer. Who did the deed? We talked to AHS co-creator Ryan Murphy about all the gory details.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: On the latest episode, you introduced the hotel’s creator, James March. Where did Evan’s accent come from?
RYAN MURPHY: That’s something Evan and I spent time on. He was off shooting X-Men and I called him and I said, “I want you to do something very different than you’ve ever done and I want you to be the villain.” And he jumped out of his skin with joy. When I met Evan he was 22, and now he’s 28, 29. I feel like he has wanted to play a darker, more mature character. I told him what I was thinking and the character is from the from the late ‘20s East Coast. I told him certain movies to go watch and certain leading men of the time: William Powell, Clark Gable. Then he on his own sent me four different voice recordings of him reading the same speech with different voices that he was working. I think I said, “Number four is the one.” So that’s something he came up with on his own. He did a lot of research. That character is very educated and at the time that meant he probably had gone overseas so there’s a little bit of that in there. I’m proud of him. He really has done his homework with that.
I love what he’s doing and he’s very heavy this season. The more we go on, the bigger he becomes. He’s having a ball. It’s always a good thing when you have an actor who texts you after a scene, “That was the most f—ed up but exhilarating thing I was forced to do.” That means I did my job, Tim.
Will we see what led him to be such a psycho?
He’s evil and he’s twisted. He said some line about that he had everything handed to him. Excess became such a part of his life that he couldn’t feel anything. So in order to feel something he had to push it to an extreme dark place.
Miss Evers is so loyal to him. Will we see why she’s so dedicated to him?
Yeah, that’s in one of our Halloween stories. We have a very big backstory that gives you the complete story of how Miss Evers started with him and how she came to be such a creature. But that’s explained I believe in episode four.
We see the head of March’s wife. It looks like the Countess’ hair. Is she the wife?
She does have a very strong connection to him that is also revealed starting in episodes 3, 4, and 5.
Liz Taylor has hovered about in the first couple episodes. When will we learn more about Liz?
We have a really great episode that I believe is number five that has a very strong backstory where you find out who Liz Taylor was before Liz Taylor and how she was transformed and all that. It’s a really great moment for him. I think this is Denis’ favorite character. I think particularly in the case of Denis, Liz Taylor is such an emotional role and I think it scares him. But that’s the great fun of the show. He talked to me a lot about how playing Liz Taylor has sort of changed his own personal views.
Iris keeps saying that she’s stuck at the hotel—is that for supernatural reasons? Or for emotional ones and remain near Donovan?
It’s that. She’s stuck because she loves her son so much and she wanted to stay close to him and that’s how she does that.
The Countess’ Studio 54 flashback was incredible. Was that fun for you all to shoot?
I loved that scene. It was a nod to a very famous Bianca Jagger entrance at Studio 54. What I liked about it was just that it was hard. We had to work with her team, like “Where do you find 30 ft. of hair? How do you make it into one wig?” Thankfully she’s somebody who’s very in tune and loves animals so she loved being on the horse. But we had do tests with the horse. Will the horse buck her during disco music? Or will it calm it down? What about the strobe lights? It was just a whole series of bizarre things. She loves things like that. She couldn’t have been happier to have 30-foot long hair on a horse.
How did Naomi Campbell get on the show?
I was at a dinner party and I sat next to Naomi Campbell and obviously I’ve always loved her. I said, “We’re writing this episode and do you wanna come on the show and play something extreme?” She was very excited about her upcoming moments that she has that push the boundaries. So I said, “Great.” I offered it to her and she accepted. She’s very professional. She actually is the best-smelling person in the world. Like you can smell Naomi Campbell across the lot. She creates this mixture of oils that if you bottled it would be a sensation. Whenever I think of Naomi I think of hugging her and how I smell like her all day long and I love it! In episode 3, you’ll see some things that happen that are quite scary.
The Countess tells Tristan about the man who turned her. Will we meet this gentleman?
Oh yeah, there are there are three episodes about that.
Do you know yet who’s playing that person?
It’s a big surprise. It’s something we’ve never done so I don’t want to say.
Donovan is now a scorned lover. What can you say about his next step?
Well he’s adrift. In episode 3, he meets somebody else who has also been hurt badly by The Countess, which is Angela Bassett’s character Ramona Royale. So they team up and are quite good together. It’s all mayhem and bloodshed and revenge.
I was reading some online theories about Constance’s fourth child, who we never saw in season one. Will we see this child this season?
Maybe. We’ve talked about a lot of different things about melding this series. Maybe.
What can you tease about next week’s episode?
Next week’s episode is about the introduction of Ramona Royale which I love. It’s also about the Iris-Donovan-Sally story, which takes even new dimension. It also has some great Mr. Marc-Tristan stuff that I love.
It appears Mr. March wants to mentor Tristan.
Mmmm hmmm. [In March’s accent] Teach him about the ways of murder!
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.