Now into its seventh, disturbing season, American Horror Story doesn’t seem to be losing momentum. The hit horror anthology has been confirmed for an eighth and nine season, meaning we won’t have to give up our favorite creepy treat any time soon.
But what is it that makes American Horror Story so addictive? Is it Ryan Murphy’s knack for creating memorable characters? Is it the spectacular cinematography or the subtle links between seasons? The costumes? The special effects? While these certainly contribute to the success of the show, we believe that it’s the people who bring the stories to life season after season that really keep us coming back. The show has an incredible cast – from relatively new faces in the acting world to veteran Hollywood stars like Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett, and Kathy Bates. We’ve seen celebrities like Stevie Nicks make cameo appearances and Lady Gaga walked away with a Golden Globe for her role in AHS: Hotel. It’s truly the actors, the people behind the characters, that make it so enjoyable to watch. And of course, we all have our favs.
Here are 15 facts we bet you didn’t know about the people behind your favorite AHS characters:
15. Denis O’Hare Was Hesitant About His Role As Liz Taylor
Denis O’Hare has been with American Horror Story since it’s inception, and although his characters are often overlooked he is truly one of the most talented actors on the show. We loved him as Spalding in Coven – even though he never spoke — but it was his role as Liz Taylor, a transgender woman in AHS: Hotel that really made us sit up and take notice. But O’Hare was nervous about taking on the role, especially when Ryan Murphy first described her.
“He told me that she was a transgender woman with a shaved head, bold lip, Cleopatra eye, gorgeous, worked in the hotel,” O’Hare said. “Liz Taylor ended up being a very special character for me. I didn’t really necessarily think she was going to be when we started the season. When he first described the character, I got nervous and a little bit scared, even though I trust Ryan and I love all of my Horror Story characters. I never thought of playing a transgender part. I’ve never explored that side of myself. I’ve never worn high heels or put on a dress. So those weren’t things I was comfortable doing.”
14. Zachary Quinto Loved To Entertain The Crew – With His Banjo
If there’s anyone we would love to see make a return to the world of American Horror Story, it’s got to be Zachary Quinto. Although he’s probably best remembered for his role as Spock in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, he did such an amazing job at portraying the evil Dr. Thredson in Asylum that we’d give anything to see him take on another dark AHS role.
But in real life, Zachary is nothing like the characters he’s portrayed, and by all accounts he’s a really funny guy, too. His quirk is that he loves the banjo (yes, you read that correctly), and during the filming of the first and second season, he loved to whip out his banjo and play between takes. Apparently, he felt that the set was creepy and decided that the music would lighten the mood.
13. Creators Used Sarah Paulson’s Real Phobias To Create Ally
AHS: Cult, the shows seventh cycle, is not intended for people who have phobias. The season is packed to the rafters with fear-inducing references, so if you find yourself freaked out by clowns, small holes, or coffins, you should maybe give it a skip. But where did the series creators come up with this list of weird and wonderful phobias? Well, they drew on the real-life fears of one of their leading actresses – Sarah Paulson. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Paulson revealed that Ryan Murphy used her phobias to model the character of Ally. When Ellen showed a magnified picture of a honeycomb on the screen behind her, Sarah could not even look at it and when a clown suddenly appeared on stage she almost lost it!
12. Jessica Lange Is Done With AHS
During the first four seasons of the show Jessica Lange carved out a neat niche for herself by playing the strong matriarchal role and, in doing so, became one of the show’s favorite actresses. But the time for Jessica Lange and AHS is over – you’ll never see her again, not in this show at least. She initially only signed on to do the first season, but enjoyed it so much that she ended up doing four. But that was it.
“We’ve had a great run here,” she said. “I have absolutely loved doing these four characters that I’ve had the opportunity to play, and in all madness, I love the writers and Ryan and the insanity of shooting it.” Of course, the show has gone on without her, but it’s just not the same is it?
11. Kathy Bates Even Spoke In A Baltimore Accent Off Set
For the first time since 2013, we are watching a season of AHS without Kathy Bates. Sadly, this acting veteran was unable to join the cast this year due to a prior commitment to her new show Disjointed, but we’re hoping the creators will be able to secure her for the next season.
For AHS: Freak Show, Bates performed with a rather obscure accent, a dialect that originated in South and Southeast Baltimore, Maryland. It’s called a Baltimore accent and if you don’t come from this area it’s exceptionally difficult to learn. Of course, Bates is an Oscar-winning actress so she managed to pull it off, but it wasn’t easy. She prepared by listening to interviews with people from this area and perfected her pronunciation by singing the National Anthem in the accent every morning. She then continued to speak in the accent off set so she wouldn’t lose it – pretty impressive!
10. Natalie Grossman Was Once Kicked Off The Set
Natalie Grossman first appeared on AHS season two, where she made her debut as Pepper. She was the first cast member to ever portray the same character in different seasons when she reprised her role as Pepper for the show’s fourth cycle, Freak Show. Other cast members to have done the same include Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe, and John Carroll Lynch.
Grossman is a striking woman, so her transformation into Pepper wasn’t easy. She shaved her head for the role and needed three hours in the makeup and prosthetic department every day to morph into the pinhead character. She looks so different without her makeup that she was once even booted off the set by a new security guard who didn’t recognize who she was.
9. Evan Peters Auditioned For The Hunger Games
Where would American Horror Story be without Evan Peters? That’s right, nowhere. He and Sarah Paulson are the stars of the show, but if Evan had gotten another role, he might have never taken his first job with AHS. And it could have happened. Evan auditioned for the role of Peeta in The Hunger Games and even did a screen test with Jennifer Lawrence, but as we all know he didn’t get the part. Although we do think he would have made a kick-ass Peeta (maybe even better than Josh Hutcherson) the rejection freed him up when American Horror Story came knocking. The series turned out to be a breakthrough role for Peters and opened a world of new opportunities for him, so in the end, it seems it was for the best.
8. John Carroll Lynch Apologized For Twisty
Clowns of America International is the country’s largest clown club, but they are not big fans of American Horror Story and it’s easy to see why when Ryan Murphy is bringing creations like Twisty The Clown to life. Twisty, played by John Carroll Lynch, first appeared in AHS: Freak Show and returned for the show’s seventh season, Cult, this time immortalized as a comic book villain. Carroll also played the role of John Wayne Gacy, the real-life serial killer who dressed as a clown, for AHS: Hotel. The professional clowns slammed the show for portraying clowns in a negative light, and John Carroll Lynch apologized to them, quickly adding that people were already scared of clowns. Damn right, John, we couldn’t agree with you more!
7. Billie Lourd Is Carrie Fisher’s Daughter
Billie Lourd is the daughter of legendary Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, and she seems to have inherited more than her fair share of talent from her mom. She first worked with Ryan Murphy when she played the ear-muffed Chanel #3 in Scream Queens and this year she finally joined the cast of American Horror Story playing Winter Anderson, the sister of cult leader Kai. So far we’re impressed – she knows just how to do creepy, and hopefully, the creators will be able to hold onto her for upcoming seasons. That might not be so easy to do as Billie is in demand. She’s appeared in three movies in the last two years; Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Billionaire Boys Club, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and it looks like she’s just getting started…
6. Angela Basset Also Directed American Horror Story
Angela Basset joined the AHS family in season three when she played Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. Since then she’s played a three-breasted woman (Freak Show), a movie star (Hotel), and an alcoholic actress (Roanoke). She’s set to appear in AHS: Cult too, although her character has not been revealed yet.
But her talents don’t begin and end with acting, she also recently made her directorial debut, with one of the most memorable episodes of AHS: Roanoke. Basset tried her hand at directing with the sixth episode of the series, where the format of the show flips from docuseries into a mockumentary style, with footage from hidden surveillance video, confessional-style booths, and hand-held iPhone recordings. This is a tough format, but Basset managed to pull it off while still performing in the episode herself.
5. Emma Roberts Is Back With Evan Peters, Again
Trying to keep up with the on-again-off-again romance between Emma Roberts and Evan Peters can be exhausting, but as of now it seems the pair are together again. This AHS pair has had quite the stormy past, but they seem to be too crazy about each other to give up just yet. The pair met back in 2012 when they worked on the film Adult World together, and since then they’ve ridden the relationship rollercoaster, from hitting each other during a “heated argument” back in 2013, to announcing their engagement in 2014. They “broke up” again in May 2016, and Roberts had a fling with British businessman Christopher Hines, but now it seems that they are back together and engaged for a second time. Keep watching this pair – it’s bound to get interesting.
4. Jamie Brewer Helped Change State Legislation
Jamie Brewer is an incredible young woman. There’s simply no other way to put it. You remember her from her roles in American Horror Story which include Addie in Murder House, Nan in Coven, and Marjorie in Freak Show, but behind the scenes, she is also involved in activism for people with Down syndrome. She’s involved with several non-profit organizations including DSALA, Best Buddies International, National Down Syndrome Congress, American Association of People with Disabilities of the United States, and Civitan International. While serving on the ARC Governmental Affairs Committee for the State of Texas, she persuaded them to remove the word “retarded” from state legislation and replace it with Intellectual Developmental Disability” instead. Brewer also became the first person with Down syndrome to walk the catwalk at New York Fashion Week in 2015.
3. Wes Bentley Struggled With Addiction
Many of us remember Wes Bentley from his breakout role as Ricky Fitts in American Beauty (1999). The role took him from being a virtually unknown actor to a star practically overnight, but the fame almost destroyed his life too. He began to descend into drug addiction almost immediately following the success of American Beauty, and although he managed to hide his addiction from his wife, it ultimately led to their breakup in 2006. He moved into an apartment of his own, and while he was still working, he was just doing enough to buy drugs and pay bills. In 2008 he underwent treatment, but by 2009 he was using heroin again. In 2010 he went back to rehab and slowly started rebuilding his career. Good luck, Wes!
2. Gabourey Sidibe Underwent Weight Loss Surgery
Like Natalie Grossman, Gabourey Sidibe is one of the few actors who has portrayed the same character in more than one season. Sidibe made her AHS debut in Coven, where she played the role of Queenie, a witch with the power to inflict pain on others by hurting herself, and reprised the character again for Hotel.
Gabourey has struggled with weight issues since childhood and recently opened up about her struggles with depression, anxiety, and bulimia in her new memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare. She recently underwent weight loss surgery, after her brother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
“I truly didn’t want to worry about all the effects that go along with diabetes. I genuinely [would] worry all the time about losing my toes,” she said. “I did not get this surgery to be beautiful. I did it so I can walk around comfortably in heels. I want to do a cartwheel. I want not to be in pain every time I walk up a flight of stairs.”
1. Lily Rabe Just Had Her First Child
Do you feel like the new season of AHS is missing someone important (besides from the noticeable lack of Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates)? It’s Lily Rabe! Rabe has appeared in every season of AHS so far, and while she hasn’t confirmed or denied that she will have a part in Cult (yet) there may be a very valid reason why she didn’t find time to do AHS this year. Lily and her long-term boyfriend, actor Hamish Linklater welcomed their first child, a baby girl, into the world in March 2017. Filming for the new season began in May 2017, so it’s possible that Lily decided she’d rather spend time with her new baby instead of appearing in AHS. But at this point, it’s just speculation.
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