Rubber Woman unmasked: American Horror Stories star Sierra McCormick breaks down spin-off's premiere
The star of the first two American Horror Stories episodes welcomes us back to Murder House.
American Horror Stories (TV series)
Warning: Spoilers from American Horror Stories season 1, episodes 1 and 2 are discussed in this interview.
After months of speculation, the American Horror Story spin-off American Horror Stories — about which we all knew virtually nothing — premiered on FX on Hulu with the first of its various spooky tales. With a concept of telling multiple stories within one season, the show began with a return to some familiar stomping grounds: Murder House.
Here, at the season 1 setting for the main American Horror Story series, we meet Scarlett (Sierra McCormick), a young girl with an attraction to hardcore bondage and torture porn who moves into the cursed home with her two dads, Michael (Matt Bomer) and Aaron (Aaron Tveit). When she finds her own rubber suit, she quickly puts it on, the first step into her becoming Rubber Woman, the persona she adopts when she murders people — including the mean girls in her school.
McCormick spoke with EW about entering the American Horror Story-verse, expanding the world of the main series, and Scarlett's two-episode arc.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How does it feel that is now out in the world?
SIERRA MCCORMICK: A little relief, actually. I was definitely succumbing to that anticipation anxiety a couple of days before it was due to come out. And also it was stressful not being able to talk about it 'cause I was so afraid I would accidentally let something majorly important slip, but now that's not a problem anymore.
When did you actually film this?
This came out really, really quickly. It was really surprising to me how quickly they were able to turn this into something awesome. We filmed... I'm trying to think back. April? We did this in April. I actually feel better about COVID when I'm on a set like American Horror Stories 'cause they're really on top of it. I was getting tested every single day and that just gives you a peace of mind, getting an email in your inbox every day that's like, "You don't have COVID for sure." ... I know that there were a few mega fans who would camp out across the street from Murder House just to get pictures, which I thought was very dedicated because we work some long hours and they were there the whole time.
Did you consider yourself a part of that fandom when you were first in talks or auditioning for this project?
I hadn't watched a show in quite a bit just because I can't watch TV much anymore. I just feel like I don't have the time to dedicate to an entire season of something. I just watch movies 'cause I can bang it out. One and done. But when I was in high school and I had a lot more time, I was a huge, huge fan of the show. Murder House, specifically, was always my favorite season. Someone dug through my Instagram and found this old photo that I posted like seven, eight years ago. It was of me and my friends all dressing up as the witches from Coven for a school Spirit Week or something.
How did the casting process work for you? Was it just as secretive as everything else about this project?
Yeah. I auditioned under a completely different character name... I think for some reason I feel like it was Penelope. I could be wrong... I had no script, I didn't know the actual nature of the episodes. I just had two audition scenes. I taped with them and I sent them off and then I kind of forgot about it. I just didn't think that they would ever cast me for this. I was very surprised, like delightfully surprised, when I found out. This was 2021. I literally auditioned I think in March or so, and I went and shot in April. It was like a whirlwind. I went right into preproduction fittings — and getting fitted for that suit a couple of different times.
Has everybody been asking you about that rubber suit since?
I mean, it's a pretty iconic and striking, if you will, look. I totally understand why a lot of the questions are about the suit.
American Horror Story in general is known for doing some pretty wild things. What were your expectations going into this? Did the reality of your experience match those expectations?
I had no idea what to expect. I knew that these [episodes] could take pretty much any kind of turn. I just tried to keep my expectations pretty open. I start every project by looking at the script and being like, 'Oh my God! How the hell am I going to do this? I can't pull this off." And then I get there and I work with all the wonderful, amazing people, and then suddenly it clicks.
Was there anything that you initially read in the script that you did have that reaction of, "I don't know how I'm going to do this"?
I haven't really done a lot of roles that have much of a sexual nature to them. I think just the fact that that was uncharted territory for me before this was a little bit daunting. I was like, "Oh! OK. Well, this has a pretty much exclusively sexual nature to it. So, I'm going to really be pushing myself here" — which is what I look for in any role. That's my criteria for deciding to do anything is like, if it's a challenge, if it's something I've never done before, if it's going to push me in some way. It definitely did.
Was there anything that like made you confident in tackling those scenes when the time came?
Our intimacy coordinator. She's amazing. I never worked with one really much before, only in a very limited capacity. She was there for many scenes that we had to discuss, but she really put me at ease and made me feel just so much better about the nature of the scenes in general. The actual shooting of them, when it came time to do it, I didn't feel surprised. I felt like everybody had my back.
So, the scenes where you get to just murder a bunch of mean girls from school, you're like, "Totally on board for this. Got it."
Yeah. That's fine. I can get to that place.
What were your first impressions of Scarlett as a character? She feels very unique in that she's really the only non-magical person to survive Murder House.
When I first read the script and started thinking about her as a character, I tried to think beyond the confines of Murder House and this universe to focus more on Scarlett's grounded qualities and what she's going through and the very real, very relatable things that she was experiencing in her life. That crossroad that she has reached in adolescence where she's not quite sure where she fits into the world and she's trying to figure it out. She maybe isn't quite confident in herself as a person or her sexuality. She feels pushed to go down this road that leads her to becoming Rubber Woman and doing all of these very heightened, crazy things. I tried to focus more on the real aspects of her character [to] let those sort of guide me to where she ends up.
We've only seen two episodes so far. Other than the fact that there are contained stories within multiple episodes, what do you feel is unique about this show versus American Horror Story proper?
I've only seen my two episodes, as well, so I can only speak on those. I think the very limited anthology, like the episode by episode, formula is really cool for people like me who currently don't feel like they can commit to watching an entire season, but they still love the universe and the atmosphere and the vibe that American Horror Story creates. It's the added binge-worthiness. I think is a really fun way to want to explore a really wide variety of different worlds and characters and actors within one season,
When you say that you've only seen these first two episodes, is it safe to say that you're only in these first two episodes?
To my knowledge, yes. Unless there's something I don't I know.
Fans like to dissect the mythology of American Horror Story to death. I was curious if there was a fun factoid or anything new about the mythology of Murder House by being involved with these two episodes.
I do know there are a couple of fun Easter eggs that they threw into our episodes. Maya [Paris Jackson's character], if you notice towards the end of the second episode, she's wearing Tate's [Evan Peters' American Horror Story season 1 character] "Normal People Scare Me" shirt. They threw in a couple of details like that were supposed to be call backs to the original Murder House season. I would leave it up to the fans that definitely know much more about it than I do to figure out what the rest of them are.
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American Horror Stories (TV series)