Every year Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk reboot their surreal, hot button-mashing horror TV series “American Horror Story.” And each new season we’re left guessing what surreal character the usual cast of players will appear as. Fake Anne Frank? A possessed nun? What about real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos? Today at the Television Critics Assn. tour, Murphy and company finally revealed the new plot and characters who will populate their horror show.
Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Wes Bentley, Matt Bomer, Chloë Sevigny, Denis O’Hare, (newcomer) Cheyenne Jackson, and Finn Wittrock took the stage for FX’s panel prepped to divulge secrets for the new season. And due to the massive cast (the stage holds only a small portion of the players and didn’t even include new additions Lady Gaga, Max Greenfield and “American Horror Story” alum Lily Rabe), we’re breaking this panel into character-reveal quotes one by one.
“Hotel” is set, well, in a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Murphy confessed that he was inspired by a surveillance video from around two years ago that showed a woman entering a hotel and disappearing. And here’s who’s checking in.
Ryan Murphy on Lady Gaga’s character:
“Her character’s name is Elizabeth, she owns the hotel. And she is sort of a very wealthy social doyenne who is consumed with art and fashion and people. And she has nefarious plans revealed in the first episode, and plays out over the course of the season. She starts shooting on Monday.”
Later on in the “scrum” Murphy would add this about Lady Gaga’s character:
“Everybody who does the show has to start with something disturbing and awful right away. And I think the first two days [Lady Gaga] has a pretty spectacular murder scene to shoot with Matt Bomer. And I’m glad that she has Matt. Because she’s so great and they’ve all socialized… I can’t say enough great things about her.“
Ryan Murphy on Max Greenfield’s character:
Murphy was able to elaborate on the role Greenfield is playing, which he dyed his hair for. “[Greenfield] plays an addict who checks into the hotel and tangles with Sarah Paulson,” said Murphy. “Again that’s just from my love of Max.... I always just wanted to work with him. So I went with him, you know he’s been doing comedy. And I said, ‘I have a feeling that you can, and want to do, something really ... up.’ And he said, ‘How did you know?’ So he cut off his beautiful hair, and dyed it, and then we had to let the roots grow in. I think he’s lost 30 pounds, which is odd because his wife is due to have a baby any day now. She’s nine months’ pregnant and he’s living on celery water, so she’s not happy about that. And yesterday I talked to him. His waist is down to a 27, so he’s really committed to it and he looks amazing. He’s super cool and he does incredibly, probably the most disturbing scene we’ve ever done, he’s really at the center of. He really pushed himself as an actor, I was proud of him.”
“I play a male model named Tristan Duffy who is always looking for the next high. And I think he sort of finds the biggest high in Lady Gaga. And we have a lot to do together. She sees all of me.”
“I’m playing Will Drake, fashion icon. He’s trying to creatively re-establish himself so he moves from New York to Los Angeles. A father… and a little desperate.
“I play Liz Taylor, movie icon. I’m not actually playing Elizabeth Taylor but I’m playing a person who is inspired by the awesomeness of ‘Butterfield Eight’ and ‘Cleopatra,’ and eye makeup like that. I shaved my head for the part, and other body parts. I work in the hotel. I work with Kathy. And I work in the bar, which is fantastic, it’s called Blue Parrot Lounge. It’s an extraordinary part of our set. We even have our own, homemade coasters, that have the hotel Cortez emblem on them. They’re gorgeous, and I’ve already stolen two.
“I play Alex Lowel, I’m the wife of Wes Bentley, and a mother and a doctor. And I’m dealing with a great loss that we had in our family, and coming to grips with that.”
“I play Donovan, who is involved in the Hotel Cortez. Closely associated with Ms. Gaga and Ms. Bates, Mr. Wittrock, amongst others. He has very interesting relationships with the lady folk in his life.”
“I play detective John Lowell, I’m married to Alex Chloë’s so we have a great loss in the family. I’m investigating some grisly murders, which somehow leads me to checking into the hotel.
“I play Ramona Royale and I’m sexy as well, but not in a drug addicty kind of way. I have a very strong, real lasting relationship with Stephanie’s [Lady Gaga’s] character. So I’m sure I’ll be at odds with you down there Donovan, who gets the girl? My character is also this fabulous actress. I don’t live in the hotel. But I visit there a lot.”
“I play Iris. I’m also very, very sexy. What else? I run the hotel. I have relationships with Matt Bomer, and with Wes, and I can’t stand you [Sarah Paulson]. I hate you. I don’t know, yet, if I get to work with Angela, I hope I do. Liz Taylor and I have a very close relationship. And I do crossword puzzles in my spare time.”
“My character this year is quite dark, she’s sexy, she’s a drug addict... Not that drug addicts are sexy. This girl happens to be quite sexy... not because I’m sexy. I should just stop talking and be quiet. She’s unlike anything I’ve ever done in this show."
Later on in the panel Paulson would continue: “I play Sally,” said Paulson. “I hate Iris in a rather ancient way for reasons that are revealed, quickly. I have a budding something with Wes’ character. It’s sort of dark. Sorry [to Wes Bentley], you don’t know this yet.”
And finally, Ryan Murphy on Lily Rabe:
A final bit of news. When asked what the big plans were for the annual “American Horror Story” Halloween episode, Murphy confirmed that show alum Rabe would be joining them for the pivotal two-parter.
“We’re doing a two-part, well, we always do a two-part Halloween episode, but our Halloween episode this year is called ‘Devil’s Night,’” said Murphy. “I’m directing it because I love the script so much, when we finished it I said, ‘I can’t give this to anybody else.’ Lily Rabe is coming to that episode. And she’s playing Aileen Wuornos, which is really fun and bizarre. I don’t want to give too much away but I will tell you that she’s at the centerpiece of that, and that’s who she’s playing."
And there you have it, or most of it. No doubt a parade of new, big-name cameos and characters will appear as the production moves forward. Surprise characters, gorgeous sets and the tackling of hot-topic issues are the things you can always count on in “American Horror Story” canon. That and Jessica Lange, but she’s gone now, hopefully to someday return after her hiatus from television.
The 13-episodes series will air beginning Oct. 7.