It’s safe to say that Fox’s horror anthology series has gained quite the massive fan base ever since its debut thanks to its unconventional approach to genre. American Horror Story outdoes itself with every subsequent season, with more gruesome scenes and shocking depictions. It’s a wonder how some of this stuff even makes it on the air.
Despite it all, there’s no denying that fans love it and have grown attached to the recurring cast that graces our screens every season. They’ve done an amazing job keeping us hooked, but how often is it that we question what exactly goes into making every episode so great. What kind of magic needs to happen behind the scenes for these characters to be conceived? What were some of the inspirations?
As one can imagine, there are some comedic, sensational, and even scandalous secrets that the American Horror Story series holds deep within its production, and it sure pays to know as an avid watcher. Here are some of the more tantalizing ones you probably didn’t know.
20. The Murder House is A Real Building
You may have been better off without knowing this place really existed. What they used to depict the Murder House in season one is known as the Rosenheim Mansion in L.A., and is commonly rumored to actually be haunted.
Architect Alfred Rosenheim built the home in 1908 and it has been used in numerous other productions, mainly horror, such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, and Ghost Whisperer.
The house has been put back on the market as of 2013 for $7.8 million, but you’d honestly have to be one diehard fan to want to live in this cursed house.
19. The Show’s Creators Made Glee
American Horror Story is pretty much as dark as it gets for television, leading most to believe that the showrunners to only excel at the twisted horror genre. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as the kings of late night fright happen to also be responsible for one of the most positive teen shows ever made.
Glee is a show that excels in mixing comedy, music, and playfulness with a teenage focus, something totally absent from what we’ve seen in American Horror Story. The creators, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, have recently mixed the two concepts of comedy and horror with their latest Fox series, Scream Queens.
18. Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka Almost Appeared In The First Season
Remember that gay couple from the first season played by Zachary Quinto and Teddy Sears? That role was originally to go to both Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, but they evidently turned it down due to the similarity in their characters from a recently produced movie, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas.
“We had just played ourselves as a couple, not getting along, and I thought, it just seems weird to do that twice, like as individual actors, to play a couple that hates each other twice,” Harris told EW. “It just felt weird. So I said no, that we shouldn’t do it.”
While this outcome disappointed fans, they were delightfully surprised to see the actor in American Horror Story: Freak Show.
17. Evan Peters Had To Be Lubed Up To Fit Into Latex Costume
Were you a fan of that infamous latex BDSM costume from the first season? We’ll tell you who definitely wasn’t.
Actors sometimes have to sacrifice a lot of what they feel is comfortable to play their best character on screen, and being lubed up to fit inside of a cold latex costume with nearly no openings sounds mighty uncomfortable.
“It’s frustrating to put on because you have to lube up basically because it gets caught on your skin,” Peters told EW. “So you make sure you’re all nice and slick and then you get in there. You have to wear a robe on set or a jacket, so you’re not too cold.”
16. Adam Levine Was In The Second Season
This short cameo may have been easy to miss, but it definitely served to set the tone for the twisted events that followed in American Horror Story Asylum.
Accompanied by Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Levine played an inquisitive visitor to the thought to be abandoned Briarcliff Asylum. The couple’s adventurous behavior soon saw them both murdered, but fans of the Maroon 5 singer will vividly recall him getting his arm ripped off before being gunned down by an unnamed serial killer. This death just attributed to the show’s signature style of killing off the least expected characters.
15. Actress Chloe Sevigny Was Carried Via Wheelchair For Her Scenes As Shelly
When actors go into makeup for American Horror Story, it’s not always certain they make it out ever looking the same. Ok, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but Chloe Sevigny most certainly had it difficult for her role as the later mutilated patient Shelly.
Her costume for post-mutation involved her wearing prosthetic pieces which in turn made it almost impossible for her to walk.
“It was a strange feeling to have to need assistance to do lots of different things,” Sevigny told Hitfix. “And that was probably the most challenging part, feeling kind of helpless in that way.”
14. James Cromwell’s Son Played His Younger Self In Asylum
It’s awfully convenient to have certain family members in the business, as it allows for some very scenes just like this one.
Weren’t you the least bit curious as to how the flashback version of Dr. Adler looked far too similar to the present day? Hollywood may be small, but not that small. The show enlisted the help of James Cromwell’s own son John to fill in, which made the whole scene flow seamlessly. The resemblance between father and son is almost uncanny and kind of makes you wish Cromwell was featured in more seasons for more of these flashback sequences.
13. Alma and Kit Walker Were Inspired By A Real Couple
It is often quite common for shows to draw inspiration from real life people or occurrences for their own material, but most probably wouldn’t have guessed the infamous interracial couple from Asylum to have any real life application.
The couple the show mirrored was Betty and Barney Hill, an interracial couple from the 60s that attested to being abducted by aliens. Yeah, so that crazy alien scene wasn’t totally pulled out of thin air.
Their story became so popular that it soon spawned a book, movie, and apparently a reference in a popular Fox television series.
12. Evan Peters and Emma Roberts Were Engaged
The chemistry the two actors had on screen wasn’t apparently just for the cameras, as the two became officially engaged in 2013.
Now as we would all love to imagine their relationship to be sunshine and rainbows, nothing ends happily on American Horror Story, including couples on set. Amidst their relationship were rumors of heavy arguments and even violence, with one circumstance resulting with Emma Roberts getting arrested for giving Evan a bloody nose. The two have since ended their engagement earlier this year, but are still frequently spotted together, suggesting things aren’t completely over. Let’s just hope their roller coaster of a relationship doesn’t affect their performance on the show.
11. Madison Montgomery Had A Sex Scene With Spalding
There are often a lot of great scenes that don’t make it into the final cut of television shows, and it’s almost always the juiciest stuff! In this case, viewers missed an incredibly shocking sex scene in American Horror Story: Coven that involved Emma Roberts’ Madison Montgomery and the silent butler Spalding.
There are no words that could have defined the creep factor from this scene, and there has yet to be a full explanation as to why it was cut. Roberts described it as being a “twisty and freaky sex scene” that depicted them around a bunch of dolls. After it was all said and done, she admits being fairly disappointed that it wasn’t left in.
10. Denis O’Hare Stayed In Character Off Set
Now there are good actors, and there are ones that completely dedicate themselves to their craft. Denis O’Hare may just be one of those actors, as it is said he fully committed to his Spalding character by not speaking even after the cameras stopped rolling.
His character on the show had his tongue cut out, disabling him speech. To fully emulate this, Denis strictly relied on hand gestures to relay his thoughts and feelings. This probably had to make a lot of crew members a little bit uneasy on set, but hell, it’s American Horror Story. This probably didn’t even scratch the surface of weird.
9. Real Clowns Offended By Twisty The Clown
Sometimes imitation really isn’t the biggest form of flattery. It’s safe to say that Twisty the Clown in American Horror Story Freak Show was one of the most fearsome characters throughout the whole series, and in hindsight may not have been the best representation of clowns.
Clowns of America International (yes it actually exists) expressed their extreme offense to the show’s negative depiction of clowns. “We do not support in any way, shape or form any medium that sensationalizes or adds to coulrophobia or ‘clown fear,” President of CAI Glenn Kohlberger told THR.
8. The Show Uses Scores From Old Horror Movies
American Horror Story is often praised for its ability to employ a range of various reminiscent horror themes, however there is a distinct process as to how they effectively bring this to the screen.
If you ever caught yourself feeling as if a certain musical score sounded familiar on the show, you were most likely right. While the show often uses their own soundtrack, they’ve been known to use dated horror film scores to invoke some nostalgia. Film scores they’ve used so far include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, What Lies Beneath, Psycho, and the more recent Insidious film.
7. Ben Woolf Is A Pre-School Teacher
Not all actors have the luxury of working on projects throughout the year, so a side hustle is fairly common amongst the less notable ones. Ben Woolf, the actor who portrays the character Meep on Freak Show, happens to enjoy a fulfilling career as a pre-school teacher.
From how he comes out looking after being in makeup, let’s just hope none of his students end up watching his show, and most especially his movie Murder House where he plays Thaddeus Montgomery, the demon child that kills his parents for trying to abort it.
6. It Took Actress Naomi Grossman Three Hours To Get Into Her Pepper Makeup
Beauty is pain, and apparently so is making someone look as malformed as possible. Pepper was one of the most convincing looking Freaks on American Horror Story’s second and fourth season, but we bet you’d never be able to pick the actress out in a lineup.
Grossman stated that it actually took six hours to get her makeup on in Asylum before they added a second person in Freak Show to help with the transformation. The makeup process was so dramatic, Grossman detailed her experience of not being able to get on set one day because security couldn’t identify her without the makeup.
5. It Took 15 Hours To Film Scenes With Bette And Dot
If you thought makeup was bad, you’d probably go crazy producing a scene where Sarah Paulson portrayed conjoined twins Bette and Dot.
Assuming that you all know that Paulson isn’t actually a conjoined twin, you’d be interested to know that the production process involved two different prosthetic heads, a corset with a green rod, and a whole heap of visual effects.
“So when Sarah is doing her coverage where she’s Dot, she has on a fake head to her left, which is Bette, and it moves,” Creator Ryan Murphy told THR. “She will record her dialogue that the other one has and she’ll have an ear wig, so she literally has to do scenes with herself, which is insane. It’s absolutely crazy.”
4. Jyoti Amge Is Considered A Deity
You don’t become the world’s smallest woman and not attract a wide variety of attention. Jyoti Amge, or more commonly known as Ma Pettite in American Horror Story Freak Show, stands not even an inch above two feet and is considered something quite special in her homeland of India.
“She came with an entourage,” Murphy told EOnline. “In India, she’s a deity, so she showed up like, ‘OK, I’m ready to work and I’m ready to be treated in a very special way.’ She’s amazing and her laugh is amazing, she’s infectious. She’s Jessica Lange’s favorite acting partner ever from Jessica’s career. And also, she’s a really good actor.”
3. Edward Mordrake, Axe Man, Delphine Lalaurie, And Marie Laveau Were All Based On Real People
This may either come across as extremely intriguing, or massively horrifying. Some of the most violent and psychotic characters on the show were more than likely inspired by real life people who you may or may not have heard of.
There’s evidence of an Edward Mordrake that eventually killed himself due to the voices he claimed to hear; an axe murderer referred to as the Axe Man was active in New Orleans during 1918; Marie Laveau was a prominent Voodoo practitioner; and Delphine Lalaurie was a maniacal slave owner that tortured her workers. Yeah, pretty twisted.
2. Jessica Lange Won’t Be Returning For Season Five
American Horror Story just won’t be the same without its signature actress. Jessica Lange broke the heartbreaking news during the filming of season 3, stating that subsequent Freak Show season would be her last.
“We’ve had a great run here,” she reannounced at the PaleyFest panel. “I mean, I absolutely love doing these four characters, and in all the madness, I love the writers and Ryan [Murphy] and the insanity of shooting it.
It’s a shame we won’t get to see the Emmy winning actress share some screen time with Lady Gaga this season.
1. Every Season Of American Horror Story Is Connected
That’s right. Despite what you may have been lead to believe, each season of American Horror Story pieces together an even larger story that we haven’t even yet uncovered.
The first hint of this arrived during Freak Show, when we were once again greeted with Naomi Grossman’s character Pepper from Asylum.
“They’re all connected,” Ryan Murphy told EW. “We’re just beginning to tell you how they’re connected. They’re all very separate but there’s clues every season that we’re now telling you how the different worlds are intertwined.”
He also later announced that the infamous Murder House from season one will return for American Horror Story Hotel.