Ryan Murphy and Hollywood cast on the myth of the namesake sign
Ever since it was erected in 1923, the Hollywood sign has been a symbol to dreamers the world over — a hillside representation of the magic of the movies.
It holds that potent allure for Ryan Murphy too, though it's tinged with darkness. His interest in the sign stemmed from his fascination with the tragic story of Peg Entwistle, an actress who famously jumped to her death off the H of the sign in 1932.
"I moved here in May of 1989, and in that first week, one of the first things I did was go to the Hollywood sign," Murphy tells EW. "I was living in Beachwood Canyon, and one of my first things was to go to the sign and look at where she jumped, because I was finally here and I grew up with that story."
Entwistle's story also plays a role in Murphy's new Netflix series Hollywood, with the ill-fated tale serving as the basis for a movie within the series. "Peg was one of those people who wanted to be a star," Murphy says. "I have always been interested in people in this town who lived unseen lives and were not allowed to thrive and prosper like some other people."
In addition to the ties to Entwistle, the Hollywood sign plays a strong metaphorical role in the show's opening credits. The young dreamers of the series, played by Darren Criss, Jeremy Pope, Laura Harrier, David Corenswet, and more, scale the sign, helping each other literally climb the Hollywood ladder.
During a recent installment of EW's Around the Table series, several of the cast members said the series has made them eager to visit the real Los Angeles landmark. While Samara Weaving was too embarrassed to share her story of hiking to the sign, Pope revealed that he's quite familiar with its current setup.
"We had all talked about it, at least me and Jake had, about maybe venturing out and taking a hike out there," Pope said. "Just experiencing it. I've been behind it, and you can take a photo where the Hollywood sign is below you a little bit."
For others, Hollywood magic is better than the real thing "I've done it on TV, I'm good," Criss joked. "I did it in a protected environment where doughnuts were just a stone's throw away, I don't need to do it in real life."
Watch the Around the Table video above for more. Hollywood hits Netflix on May 1.
Hollywood (2020 TV series)