“Being in a sexual situation with the Countess, having to sign a nudity waiver about how it was going to go, that was the scariest [moment],” laughed Angela Bassett, whose character, Ramona, had a romantic relationship with Lady Gaga’s the Countess.
The cast of FX’s horror anthology spoke to reporters on the set of the show Wednesday, talking about their real-life fears and shooting this particular dark — and sexy — season of “American Horror Story.” And they all have different ways of dealing with all of that.
Bassett, for instance, said Gaga told her to feel at ease for their steamy scene, and they’re even able to joke about it now. In fact, Bassett revealed that Gaga got her a cake for her birthday, and the cake topper was of the two of them having sex.
Denis O’Hare, who plays Liz Taylor, also had to jump into unfamiliar sexual territory this season.
“I had a sex scene this year, my first one ever, which I was terrified by because I’m a character actor,” he said. “I’m not called upon to flash some ass, and that was uncomfortable for me. I tried to make sure my sex partner was always blocking me.”
Everyone at least agreed that they didn’t have to be nervous when working with Lady Gaga, as she was cited as down-to-earth and even had a cast party at her home before the season kicked off, complete with a red-dyed pool. Still, they know what a megastar they have in their scene partner.
“It’s interesting because you don’t realize what a huge cultural figure you’re working with. I haven’t said anything about Lady Gaga to them,” Matt Bomer, who plays Donovan, said, talking about his young children. “They’ve seen pictures that have been taken that are candid, but they just think it’s an actress. And someone from their class at school has told them, so they come home now and go, ‘What’s Lady Gaga like?’ And they don’t know who she is necessarily, it’s just playground lore. So I’m like, ‘Oh my god, am I cool?'”
As far as the non-sexual fears go, the actors agree that “AHS” has tapped into something more psychological than the typical work of horror. Cheyenne Jackson, for instance, who plays Will Drake, said the child abduction aspect of the plot is the scariest part.
“I think it’s every parent’s worst nightmare.” he said. “That to me is scarier than any dead body sewn into a mattress. I really think Ryan’s tapped into some deep, dark fears there.”
“It’s my biggest fear,” Wes Bentley, who plays Detective John Lowe, whose son is abducted and turned into a vampire, admitted. “My son asks me all the time if I’m afraid of stuff, because we talk about being afraid of the dark. And he asked me, ‘What are you afraid of, Daddy?’ And I can’t tell him because my fear is everything that has to do with him or his sister.”
However, some of them have more topical fears: “What keeps me up at night? Donald Trump,” laughed Jackson.
Others discussed more traditional fears. Ironically, Sarah Paulson, who portrays a ghost in Sally this season, wants nothing to do with spirits.
“I don’t like them,” she said adamantly. “I don’t like to think that they’re around. I’m not interested in them at all. I want nothing to do with ghosts.”
Kathy Bates, who stars as Iris, agreed that “American Horror Story” taps into a much darker side of human nature, and so much of the audience can see some of their problems reflected on the screen.
“I think there’s bad in all of us, and a dark side in all of us,” she said. “Everybody has a dark or sad or tragic thing that’s happened to them and we’re so intent on keeping those things to ourselves and not telling other people about them, because you don’t want to be a downer and all that stuff. But it always surprises me that we all think that we’re the only ones who have those problems, when in fact we all share them, and then we all gather in front of a screen to see the same people sharing similar problems.”
For O’Hare, the fear was very personal, as he plays the very feminine Liz — something he’s avoided for a long time.
“I am a 53-year-old gay man who had to come out in the ’80s, when it wasn’t fashionable. I was a Catholic, so I had a very, very painful experience with being gay,” he explained. “This role was sort of putting the finger directly in that wound and forcing me to confront that.”
The show was renewed for a sixth installment earlier this week, and most everyone agreed they would be game to return if they got the call from show creator Ryan Murphy. But what kinds of characters would they like to play?
“I think I’d maybe like to play more of a villain,” said Chloe Sevigny. “I think that would be fun.”
“Maybe some kind of handicapped [character] or something,” said Evan Peters, who plays the villainous Mr. March in “Hotel.” “That’d be interesting to try to challenge myself to play.”
“I think anything I would come up with would just sort of be really boring in comparison to what Ryan comes up with,” Paulson laughed.
“American Horror Story: Hotel” airs at 10 p.m. PST/EST Wednesdays on FX.