In the 13-episode, fifth installment of the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning franchise, American Horror Story: Hotel ventures into The Cortez, an infamous hotel in Los Angeles that is operated by The Countess played by international superstar Lady Gaga. Featuring an all-star cast including series regulars Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Evan Peters, Dennis O’Hare and Chloe Sevigny, the series welcomes in expanded roles Matt Bomer, Wes Bentley and Cheyenne Jackson. AHS was co-created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.
Chloe Sevigny is a renowned actress, author and fashion designer. As an actress she has received praise for her work on film and in television, including a Golden Globe for her performance on the HBO series Big Love. She also was nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG award for her role in the independent film Boys Don’t Cry.
What did you find so attractive in this particular character? How would you describe her for an audience that has just started to watch it?
I think that in this wild world inside the hotel that she’s kind of a through-line for the audience. I think she’s–maybe her and her dilemma is kind of easier for people to grasp onto. She’s kind of more based in realism than I think some of the other characters that are assembled here. I think that she’s someone that people can sympathize with. She’s in this horrible quandary, and I think that she’s flawed, but also really sympathetic, and really driven. I think that people can just empathize.
This is not the first time you’ve worked with Ryan Murphy. Can you maybe speak to working with him, and working on these projects that keep pushing boundaries in unexpected ways?
He is a force within the industry. He has a lot of respect, and a lot of success, and it’s just fun to be a part of one of his projects. He directed the pilot episode, and just being around him, everybody feeds off of his energy. He’s so decisive. He knows exactly what he wants. He has to approve every single button and bow and tray and cup. It’s just like everything runs by him, even if he’s not here. It’s so nice, for me, almost all of my film and television projects have been the babies of one writer/director or creator. When you do projects that aren’t under somebody’s hands in that way, you really feel the difference. It’s nice to be in safe hands and know that he, like you said, wants to push things, and also wants to scare but also have fun. He can, on a whim, change his mind, so that keeps everybody on their toes. It’s an exciting environment.
But you’re good with all the gore and horror?
I’m OK with it. I mean, I haven’t been watching, because we’re still shooting, and that’s pretty ego-damaging for me, so I have to wait until we’re wrapped. But there was one scene when I’m in a bathtub, which is part of a montage, and that, to me, is more disturbing than other aspects of the gore, because the realism of that, and knowing people that have suffered with depression and attempted suicide and suicide.
Just the reality of that, looking down–we used all 2-D effects, so everything is so real, you’re seeing it in front of you. I think they do a little bit in post to clean it up, but mostly all of the effects that you’re seeing are happening on set while we’re there. Of course, there’s a little guy pumping the blood by the bed, but still! [laughter]It’s still pretty disturbing, to say the least.
The news was announced that American Horror Story is coming back for a sixth season. Would you be open to signing on for another season, and if so, what type of role are you really craving to play?
Umm–well, I played the victim in the second season. This season I’m more like the moral center. I think I’d like to maybe play more of a villain! Yeah, I think that would be fun. Not necessarily a serial killer.
So you’d be open for season six?
Ryan seems to be a master of tapping into fears that we know we have, but also fears that we don’t know we have until he puts them in our faces. To you, what the scariest element? I know that small blonde children are now terribly terrifying.
Has there been a facet to it that awakened something, maybe dormant, that you didn’t know you were terrified of?
Oh, gosh, this is a hard question. I mean, I think the whole child being abducted, obviously. I mean, I don’t know if that is dormant, nor do I have a child, but I think there’s been that as a theme, and having to play that, and the reality of what that would mean–I don’t think there’s probably anything more terrifying.
Why do you think we have this enduring fascination with vampires? It’s survived in literature for centuries?
I don’t know. It’s my favorite genre. I love vampires. I think there’s just this sexiness to it, and something that is scary and not scary, because it’s like zombies. To me, Walking Dead, I love. It doesn’t frighten me except when the humans come around, and there’s the abductions and the breaking and entry and all that, and then I’m like “AHH!” But vampires, I don’t know what it is. I guess it’s the mystery surrounding them, and the sexiness.
Did you have any favorite vampires from celluloid history? Twilight?
Not so much the Twilight, I mean, from Vampyr, the Carl Theodor Dryer, to Herzog’s Nosferatu, to Near Dark by Kathryn Bigelow. So many–Lost Boys, Joel Schumacher. [laughing]I have a whole list! Actually, I had to make a list of like 15 of them for some publication. I had to narrow it down to my favorites, and those are some of them. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, that one came out recently and that was great. Let the Right One In, Coppola’s Dracula, which was more true to the book than most others.
So we were talking earlier about how your character is almost a through-line for the audience, and I love how she’s so practical, because she is a doctor, and she does look at science. Now, she’s sort of been overtaken, or turned, by this mythological kind of idea. How is she processing all of that? Was that hard for you when you got the character?
Well, one of the only reasons I signed on is because he told me I was going to get to turn into a vampire, so I kept waiting for that! [laughter]I’ve always wanted to play a vampire! I’m just sad we don’t have fangs. But I think, you know, The Hunger with Susan Sarandon and Deneuve–there’s always that, or maybe she’s going to try to figure out how to cure, or your doctor is a doctor, and that is just something that’s always kind of attached to vampires–not always, but a lot of times. I think really her–she’s overcome by her love of her son, and she lost her marbles, per se, when he was gone, and the idea of being with him again seems like it will make everything right for her, so she’ll go to any length to do that.
What about Gaga? Is she fun to work with?
Gaga is a dream! She’s a novice, but she’s not. She’s obviously been in charge of her career for so many years, and all the videos, and she knows the language of film making, but the acting element is new, and her lines and stuff like that. But having a woman who commands so much respect and presence on set, and is so professional, but at the same time has never really done it before–it’s an interesting dichotomy. It’s really fun to be around her. She’s so serious–well, she’s not serious, but she’s taking it very seriously. She’s had these parties for us, and these other photos shoots and stuff, and she’s so excessive, it’s just awesome! [laughter]
Outside of the show, what are you doing? Are you still designing?
I’m shooting another show on Netflix called Bloodline with Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn. We’re in our second season. I’ve done a few seasons of clothing with Opening Ceremony, like over five, and that was kind of more in my down time. I’m trying to focus more on acting. I have three or four movies in the can that I did last year that will hopefully be coming out. I have a movie coming out next week, called Hashtag Horror, which my friend Tara directed–Tara Subkoff. IFC is releasing that on VOD, which I guess is the thing, and in certain theatres.
American Horror Story: Hotel is available on Blu-ray ™ and DVD from 3rd October, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.