Stevie Nicks talks ‘American Horror Story’: ‘I was scared to go there’
Dreams are far from unwinding on “American Horror Story: Coven.”
An ongoing thread in the third installment of the series has been the unbridled infatuation swamp-dweller Misty Day (Lily Rabe) has for rock heroine Stevie Nicks, whom Day firmly believes is a “White Witch.” After repeated listenings to “Rhiannon,” the backwoods fangirl won’t have to twirl in vain much longer.
The Fleetwood Mac frontwoman guest stars in Wednesday’s episode, aptly titled “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks.” And yes, there will be twirling.
Already accustomed to working with show creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck (she consulted on the Fleetwood Mac tribute episode on their other show, “Glee”), Nicks is taking it one step further by appearing in front of the camera on the horror drama.
Nicks’ appearance comes courtesy of Fiona (Jessica Lange), who calls in a favor with the songstress in an effort to out Day as the next in line for the Supremacy.
Show Tracker spoke with the 65-year-old singer to talk about the episode, which she has yet to see. Read on for tales of drama class horrors, her love of set real estate, and who the diaphanous scarf-loving songstress fears.
Do you know how many people are eager for Wednesday’s episode?
Yvonne. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.
I haven’t seen the episode yet so don’t tell me if you have. Wait, tell me. No, nevermind, don’t tell me.
You’re supposed to have the scoop!
I haven’t seen it. [Fleetwood Mac] has a show tomorrow night at 8 o’clock when “American Horror Story” comes on in Phoenix so I won’t see it until we fly back to Phoenix at 2 a.m. I could have gotten an advance link to see it, but I didn’t want to. I want to see it on the night that it goes out to the people.
Are you nervous?
I’m extremely nervous. I want to run away and hide forever.
You know you’re Stevie Nicks, right?
Yvonne, I am not an actress. Since the fourth grade when I was in an incredibly bad play about the Alamo and I played one of the last two surviving girls in the Alamo, I have vowed to stay away. It was so bad that I came home--in the fourth grade!--and said to my mother, “never put me in a drama class again! Ever! Because I suck! I’m a terrible actress, mom!” From that moment on, all I did was sing. I have never had much faith in me as an actress.
In this situation, I wasn’t initially going to be on the show. When [Murphy and Falchuk] were just starting to work on this season, they asked me if they could use my music. I had never seen any of the other two seasons so I didn’t have any idea what I was getting into. But, you know, I definitely feel that I am a part of the “Glee” family because I was there for the “Fleetwood Mac” episode, and I was in contact with them when Cory [Monteith] died. I really felt like my heart was a part of theirs. And so when Ryan was like, “it’s called ‘American Horror Story: Coven,’ and it tells the story of a coven of witches and their problems. One of them is not in the coven, she lives out in the forest. She doesn’t know anybody, she has no family. She likes birds and animals and she thinks she’s weird. She has no friends. She just has an eight-track and a couple of your albums and that’s all she has. You’re like her friend and her mom and her conscious.” That’s what I’ve always ever wanted to be to anybody with my songs. So, yes, I was like, “absolutely, Ryan, you can use my music.” And I didn’t give it much thought. I was like, “OK, bye-bye, I’m off to Europe.”
What went through your mind when he was telling you about the connection Lily Rabe’s character has with you? When the viewer is first introduced to her in that cabin and “Rhiannon” comes on, I think their was a collective “omg! Yes!” moment among viewers. All you want to do is twirl along.
Right? You can twirl along with us in [Wednesday’s] episode. There will be some of that.
But, yeah, it threw me off a bit, that my music was being worked into the psyche of a fictional character. I trust Ryan as a writer because of “Glee.” I had no doubt that this would end up being something really fantastical and that I would end up loving it even though I had no idea what it really was. And my mind was on my five-week vacation in Europe with some of my friends; then we met up with Fleetwood Mac in Dublin to start the tour. So when the first episode came on--it’s very hard to get a TV show in Europe that’s just coming on. My assistant figured it out and we got it, so I watched the first episode and I was like, “Oh my God, this is totally … weird and twisted and the strangest, oddest thing I have probably ever seen on television.” In his own way, though, Ryan writes about misfits. He and Brad, they write about people that don’t fit in. And I definitely was one of those people. I moved before the eighth grade, before the 10th grade, before the 12th grade--I was like the new kid on the block a lot. And so I totally relate to why he writes about those people, whether it’s witches or just a group of kids at a high school. So I was pretty taken aback by the first episode because that really is the strangest episode of all--Kathy Bates is terrorizing everybody! By the second episode, I was all in. Mind you, I’m seeing it all through the eyes of a fairy tale because that’s how I prefer to see things. By the third episode, it was over for me. I was hooked.
So I come back from the tour and I’m supposed to turn around in a week and go to Australia and John McVie gets cancer, so we have to cancel our tour. Let me just say, he went in, he did his treatment. I did two shows with him and we’re doing a show Wednesday night and that’s our last show. Then he’s going to have a little surgery in two weeks and then he’s going to be fine. He’s going to be fine.
That being said, I had had five weeks off. So I thought, you know what, maybe I should call Ryan and say, “OK, I’ll do a walk-through.” I thought, I’ll walk through in this beautiful black dress and fantastic hair and makeup and maybe a fan and I’ll just walk through and say, “Hello, witches!” and just keep walking.
Well, you’re perfectly welcome to make such a cameo in the LAT offices. Had Ryan hinted that he wanted you to guest star when he told you about Misty Day?
He never actually said to me, “Would you like to be on the show?” because he knew I was on my way to do a European tour so why bother. But the thing is, he also knew, because I laughingly said during our initial talk about Misty that “I’m not an actress.” So I called him and was like, “I want to make just a visionary appearance. Like in a moment of a dream. Let me walk through Misty’s mind and out.” So when I got the script the night before filming, it must have been 2 a.m. the night I got it, I read it and I was like, “Do they know I’m not a good actress? Do they not know about my Alamo incident in the fourth grade?” I was pretty terrified. Honestly. I did not sleep well. Yvonne, I was scared to go there. When I went in the next day, I thought, I’m never going to be able to do this.
How does Stevie Nicks prepare for something like this? Are you like, ‘Whatever, I’ll wing it’? Do you practice lines in front of the mirror?
Heck no! Uh uh. You think I want to look at myself in the mirror at 2 a.m.? I got up at 7 o’clock in the morning so I could drink coffee for three hours like the basket case that I am; I got dressed and I got down there at 10 a.m., which is early for me because I don’t go to sleep until 4. Are you an insomniac, Yvonne?
Anyway, I knew I wouldn’t get to sleep early so there was no sense in worrying about that. That’s what touch-ups are for. So I went in and I did my makeup and I went into that amazing house that they have built. Oh my God, it’s just so beautiful. Anybody would die to live there. Honestly, I hope they don’t ever tear it down. It’s just so gorgeous. It’s real. It’s a real house. It took them six weeks to build it, with a crew that went 24 hours a day. Just a little fun fact. It’s not real on the outside, though. It’s plywood. But on the inside, it’s a big two-story house, and it has stairs, and it has bedrooms upstairs and it has plumbing. Everything you see on TV, it’s all there. You walk into their world when you walk in there. It’s like a dream. You walk into this dream. Once you’re in it, you’re in it. You become part of those girls and those women. I got to know Emma [Roberts], I got to know Gabby [Sidibe], I got know Taissa [Farmiga], I got to know Lily. And I got to know...I mean, I think I got to know Jessica [Lange] a little bit. Um, but I really got to know Fiona [the character played by Lange] because Jessica’s Fiona is so real that you can’t help but forget she’s Jessica Lange. You absolutely accept her as Fiona Goode.
And Fiona is scary.
She is scary, right? Oh my God. And she’s beautiful. She moves like a cat. And she’s always in beautiful black, not the cheap black--it’s Chanel, all the good stuff. She’s totally stylish. And, uh, let’s not forget, she’s also crazy.
But wait. Let’s be real. Stevie Nicks would totally take down Fiona.
Stevie Nicks would not even get in Fiona Goode’s way. Because as Fiona so lovely said to the girls, “You have one thing in the whole world to be afraid of, and that’s me.” Fiona has all powers. The reason she is Supreme is because she has all the powers. She can flip the bus. She brought that baby back to life. She can set fire to anything she wants to. That’s pretty badass.
And then she has an illness. And just the whole love affair with the Axeman--there’s so many subplots going on.
And you know them so well!
It’s so much fun.
So, do you feel like you made magic on set?
I did. I felt like I had entered into the coolest club ever. Everybody was just so supportive of me because they knew that’s not what I do. Everybody tried to explain to me, you’re never going to get anything on the first take. Even if you do, they’re going to have to film it again 100 more times, And, boy were they right. They get it from every side--hanging from the ceiling, underneath the piano. I just didn’t understand.
So it took a while to get used to.
It was long and hard. It was like a 16- or 18-hour day. That, I’m not used to. I’m used to going in, I get makeup at 5 p.m., I go on at 8 p.m., two hours and 45 minutes later, I change, I get on a plane and I fly to the next city and order room service. Gotta have room service. That’s my day.
We’ve seen you on “American Idol” and you consulted on the “Glee” Fleetwood Mac tribute episode, but was it fun to play up this notion of you?
It was really different. I play me all the time. But to actually be me on a show like this, was very interesting and something I never expected.
And to give a wink to all the witchcraft talk people have slung your way.
Yeah, I wouldn’t have done this 30 years ago. In the beginning of my career, the whole idea that some wacky, creepy people were writing, “You’re a witch, you’re a witch!” was so arresting. And there I am like, “No, I’m not! I just wear black because it makes me look thinner you idiots.” I stopped wearing black for like a year. Then I was just like, “OK, just bring it freaks. I’m not going to wear apricot. You think whatever you want because I’m going to wear my beautiful, long black dress. Get out of my face.” I got mad. I went back to black. So when all this came along, I was like, “what, really, am I going to turn this down because of all that past nonsense?” I’m way too old and I’ve been through way too much to give up an opportunity like this. I’m fearless. You have to be fearless in life, Yvonne. I’m not afraid of anything. Don’t you ever be afraid of anything.
And look what’s it’s done for you. You have an episode named after you-- “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks.”
I know! Unexpected. This whole thing is so weird. I’m really glad that I was accepted into their group, and I’m hoping that as the years go by, that I might get to do more work with all these people again at some point because it’s been such a joy. I’ve performed thousands of concerts and written thousands of songs. My whole life, since I was 15, has been music. For me to be able to step into another world--a world that terrified me--has been great for me.
And we’ll see you sing in the episode as well. How many songs are we to expect? How much twirling will I be doing in my apartment?
I did get to sing, but I’m not going to tell you because they’ll come and get me. You have to understand--I thought I’d have to be mute until the episode airs. They don’t let you say a word! First of all, they don’t tell you. All you know is what you did. You don’t know anything else that’s going on. They don’t want you to know because they know if one person spills a secret, then it’s all out.
So you’re basically saying I’ll definitely be hearing “Rhiannon”?
Maybe. Maybe not... Maybe.
But when it’s all said and done, let’s please talk again to see if the Alamo incident is behind me. After this moment passes, I have a couple of months off and I think I’m going to work on my “Rhiannon” movie. You have to stay busy while you can.
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