Another “Scream Queens” student was a goner Tuesday night, causing heads to roll — literally.
As if getting both of his arms sawed off on this season’s earlier episode titled “Chainsaw” wasn’t bad enough, fraternity brother Caulfield (played by newcomer Evan Paley) saw the end of his journey when the Red Devil caused him to fall off a ladder, before taking an ax to his head. The fatal moment occurred during the Dickie Dollar Scholars’ panty raid of the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority.
“You think, how are we going to kill the armless guy? At that point, it has to be funny because getting your arms chainsawed off is pretty brutal,” Paley tells Variety with a laugh. “For my death scene, I’m climbing a ladder, which you would think you need arms to do — which you do! — and then the Red Devil comes over and very comically pushes the ladder over. I’m just hopeless.”
Here, Paley tells Variety about the episode’s other victim, what’s next for the Dickie Dollars now that Caulfield is dead, and how Boone’s (Nick Jonas) death fake-out could come back to haunt “Scream Queens.” Plus, Paley — a former real-life fraternity member — discusses whether TV does the Greek system justice.
How did the show break the news to you that Caulfield was going to die?
Wardrobe always has all the secrets because they have to dress everyone so I asked them if I had a chance and they were like, ‘It’s not looking great,’ so I had my suspicions. But before I got my script, Ryan texted me and said, ‘You’re going to have a lot of fun with this episode, but it’s the end of the run for Caulfield.’
What was your reaction to Caulfield’s death scene?
When I read it, I was laughing hysterically. The fun part about this show is that for as much craziness and confusion and chaos as there is, it’s really funny. So even when you’re an actor and you’re reading a script that says you’re dead — which means in real life, you’re no longer going to be working — it’s still so funny and enjoyable.
This is the world of Ryan Murphy, so any chance we’ll see you again?
I can neither confirm or deny that I come back in the show! It’s happened before already in the season — everyone thought poor Caulfield died in episode three when he got his arms brutally chainsawed off, but lo and behold, here I am. Anything is possible.
That brings up a good point: how did Caulfield so seamlessly live without his arms?
It was tough. First off, thank you to my doctors who really fixed me up nice and good and quickly. We have great medical attention from the doctors at Wallace University. My Dickie Dollars, they chased after me quickly and got me to the hospital and I was saved. But adjusting to life without arms is tough — I had to learn how to text with my nose, brush my teeth with my feet, and climbing ladders is tough. Caulfield is an optimistic guy. You can’t stop him.
Well, until now! Do you have any theories on who your killer — the Red Devil — could be?
I thought that the Red Devil was going to be Wes (Oliver Hudson). I think I’m really wrong about that. I’ve started to develop new theories. There are obviously multiple Red Devils. Something in my heart is just pointing at Chanel No. 5 (Abigail Breslin) or Hester/Chanel No. 6 (Lea Michele). They’re just evil. I’m just feeling a lot of devil in them.
Another fraternity brother, Roger, also died in this episode. How will Caulfield and Roger’s death impact the Dickie Dollars and shake them up even more?
It’s tough, but Chad (Glen Powell) is our everything. Chad is our Chanel. I feel like Caulfield is more of the energy leader, and frat life is tough when you don’t have your armless, inspiration leader, but I think they’re going to carry on. But based on the fact that I got my arms chopped off and lived — and then, the Red Devil ended my life — that’s pretty real. Dodger (Austin Rhodes) is dead, I’m dead, and by the end of this episode, Roger (Aaron Rhodes) is dead. A lot of the Dickies are goners. After this episode, the only Dickies alive are Earl Grey (Lucien Laviscount) and Chad so our frat is two guys after tonight. Chad is a very powerful figure. Chad equals frat, so Chad equaling frat means that as long as Chad is alive, the Dickies live on.
The Dickie Dollars really are dropping like flies. Should we read into the Dickies being targeted by the Red Devil?
That’s very interesting. Based off of that notion, that’s why I think that the Red Devils are women. The Dickies are frat bros, the most disgusting guys in the world who don’t care about anything but panty raiding and eating Spaghettios so [I think] it has to be a female killer because why else would we be the first targets? We’re all just getting destroyed!
The Dickies also think that Boone is dead, but as viewers found out in the premiere, he’s clearly hiding something. When will the Dickies catch up to the viewers?
I don’t know. I know that “Scream Queens” Season 1 has not seen the last of Nick Jonas, based off of the fact that we see the he’s alive after the premiere, but when will he come back? I’m not sure. But I know that he’ll make quite a splash. He’s Nick Jonas! He’s a Jonas Brother! He’s not going to not make a splash. I just hope that at one point during this season, either Nick Jonas or Ariana Grande sing a song and die while singing. I don’t know if that happens, but that’s what I hope.
Speaking of Nick Jonas and Ariana Grande, “Scream Queens” was your first big gig and you were acting with big names. What was the experience like on set?
Working on a show like this with the cast that we have, you’re surrounded by so much raw talent. Jamie Lee Curtis is the ultimate. Hearing her life advice and career advice…makes you realize that anything is possible and that there are no excuses. And then you have Lea Michele and Emma Roberts — they’re so talented. The stuff that they do is just baffling. And then Glen Powell, he’s such a mensch. To see his breakthrough role and to see him succeed and embody Chad Radwell, it’s just so exciting.
Your first major role was a Ryan Murphy production. How was that?
Just right away, it’s an honor. I was honored to work with creative minds…but the thing I was most impressed by from day one on the “Scream Queens” set was how professional, efficient and incredibly kind everyone on set is from the wardrobe staff to hair and makeup to the director of photography to the directors to the lighting guys and the camera guys. Everyone on set is a Ryan Murphy [alum] and they’ve all been working together for years so there’s just a camaraderie that makes you feel comfortable.
It really does seem like you guys had a blast on the show. Any fun on-set moments?
We really are like a frat. We’re like brothers. We hang out and we talk and text and tweet at each other. We sincerely love each other and that comes out, and I think that’s why everyone loves the Dickies. People usually won’t take a bullet for someone — Caulfield took a chainsaw for his boy!
You were in a fraternity in college yourself. Did your days at USC help you prep for “Scream Queens?”
In tonight’s episode, I break a house record for eating the most Spaghettios. When I originally sat down with Ryan [Murphy] about the part, I was talking to him about some of my experiences and he said, ‘What are some things you did in your frat?’ So when I was at USC, we did a lot of eating competitions and challenges so I think that was taken to heart and Caulfield did an eating competition.
The Greek system gets a lot of criticism in the media and pop culture. Is “Scream Queens” giving an accurate portrayal of fraternity life?
As with everything on the show, everything is accurate and then just exaggerated exponentially. College life is ridiculous and over-the-top in real life and on the show, even more so. But I would say the most accurate thing about the Dickies to my college life is that there are always people who are over-the-top to mask insecurities about their lack of self confidence or their sexuality, and I think on “Scream Queens,” there’s a lot of confusion of sexuality in our frat, which is amplified by the crazy clothes that we wear and the crazy colors. But I think there’s so much confusion and sexuality, as exemplified by Brother Boone, which I think is actually very accurate in real life. Fraternities have 150 guys — 20 guys are probably gay, and maybe two of them will ever come out. So I feel like Boone’s character is good for fraternity brothers to see. It’s okay to just be who you are.
Debra Birnbaum contributed to this report.