Now that American Horror Story has been greenlit for a third season, subtitled Coven, Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with three of the power players in mastermind Ryan Murphy’s repertory to talk about their experiences in the Asylum last season and their decisions to plunge into the darkness of the series’s Round 3.
Wetpaint Entertainment: We remember hearing that the sex aversion therapy scene was probably the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Is it?
Sarah Paulson: The old age thing was hard, too. I was trying to physically capture a woman who had been through a lot but had also kind of — I don’t know. It was hard. I’m not 75 years old. I’m not even 50 years old, so it’s very hard to come up with the physicality for her and stuff. But there wasn’t any episode really, except for “The Name Game,” that didn’t present some challenge for me as an actress.
This is obviously very emotionally challenging to do. What is it about that material that makes you want to do it again?
Just from an acting standpoint, it was thrilling even though it was harrowing. You don’t get opportunities all the time to play characters like that. So I loved every minute of it. And I hope to have as much to sink my teeth into next year.
Do you remember a scene that was particularly scary as an actress?
None of it was scary because I knew what was coming, but all the stuff in the lair when I was trapped down there for those three episodes, and [Dr. Thredson] was force-feeding me food and, you know, it was hard. All of it was hard.
How do you shake it off?
You don’t. I was in a little bit of a bluesy, melancholy way for a little while until Lana was out of the asylum and I started to feel better. It can’t not get into your psyche, it just can’t. And I’m going back for more.
Wetpaint Entertainment: How fun is to play good and evil in the same body?
Lily Rabe: It’s really fun. It was sometimes very painful, too, and there was such a struggle going on. It’s not just sort of flipping back between the two but really having to... Sister Mary Eunice is in so much pain throughout the whole thing.
Right. She’s fighting on the inside. So it’s emotionally taxing...
What is it about this material that would make you want to do it again?
That you’re not going to be bored. I love coming home from a day of work having had to do whatever we’ve had to do and you just have to kind of stare at a wall because you’re so exhausted. To me, I would always choose that over sort of strolling home. I love a challenge and I think that that’s the wonderful thing about being on the show, is you’re constantly being challenged.
Is there fear?
In what way?
There’s so much unknown, and I always get scared when I start a job that I love, or I’m about to start work on a character that I care about, and you want to tell their story. So yeah, I think fear is part of it.
Wetpaint Entertainment: It’s obviously very emotional, harrowing material. What makes you want to do it again and again?
Frances Conroy: Oh, it’s great material. It’s such rich material, and the characters are all so wonderful to play. So if anything has a deep emotional tree, it’s well worth doing because it’s great material to play.
Do you remember a scene that you were particularly excited to sink your teeth into?
Well, I mean all the scenes are so great, but I love the scene in the diner with Jessica [Lange] after she comes out of the bathroom, and you think she’s slit her wrists. And just to be in that scene with her when she’s saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t be here. I didn’t call for you.” And I say, “No, no, no. You did.” That was a great scene to be a part of just to be with Jessica.