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‘American Horror Story’ Star Leslie Grossman on How the Cult Changes Meadow: ‘Kai Becomes Her North Star’

Leslie Grossman may be new to “American Horror Story,” but as the wayward Meadow, she’s been stealing scenes alongside her TV husband Billy Eichner in “Cult.”

Unfortunately for Meadow, however, we still don’t know if she’s alive after the third episode, which shows Eichner’s Harrison, covered in blood, explaining to the police that his wife has disappeared. This week’s episode didn’t answer any questions about Meadow’s fate. It did, however, show how Harrison and Meadow got involved with Kai (Evan Peters) and the titular cult.

The married yet platonic couple had just learned that they were being foreclosed on, straining their relationship, when Kai arrives to entice Harrison with the promise of a new life. Meadow, as Grossman explains, seems to be going with the flow; she’s found a leader, which is what she thinks she needs, in Kai.

Grossman got on the phone with Variety to talk about Meadow’s unrequited love for Harrison, how Kai will take advantage of her low self-esteem, and to (kind of) tease her yet-unknown fate.

Meadow’s relationship with Harrison is really interesting. He resents her, and even admitted that he wishes she was dead. Does Meadow feel the same way about him?
No — my theory is that it was probably Meadow who pushed Harrison into that marriage and when I say “marriage,” I’m using air quotes around the word. And I truly believe that the person you settle for, you will end up hating, and I have a feeling, in my mind, it was Meadow who sort of bullied Harrison into that.

Episode 4 really details how Harrison and Meadow get involved in the cult. What about Kai would make Meadow trust him?
I think that Meadow — there’s so much sadness there. And I think Meadow just really wants to be seen and loved and appreciated and even though it’s incredibly twisted appreciation and attention, that’s what Kai is giving her. And she’s at such a desperate point in her life that it’s the best option she has and it makes sense to her.

She definitely seems to have some self-esteem issues.
You think?! [laughs]

Will we see Kai take advantage of that?
Absolutely. I think Kai is able to see each person’s weakness and exploit it for all it’s worth, and I think Meadow’s is right there. I mean, look, the first time you see Kai and Meadow together is in that pinky power scene and, I mean, he says to her, “You’re so annoying.” And she doesn’t fight back, she doesn’t say, “Hey, wait a minute!” She just is like, “Okay!” I think he knows exactly how to play her.

We don’t know if Meadow’s still alive, but if she is, how will being involved with Kai and the cult change her?
I think that Kai gives Meadow a reason to live, and she just wants someone to tell her who to be. And if that person is Kai, then that’s who it’s going to be. So I think that’s how we see it change her. I think Kai becomes her north star.

One scene that really stuck out to me in the fourth episode was, after Meadow told Harrison that they’re being foreclosed on, she tried to seduce him. What was her goal there?
Oh god, is that just the saddest scene? It’s so sad! It’s her final desperate attempt to try to have some semblance of a real married relationship with Harrison, and it’s her last-ditch effort to try to mold him, or force him into being a real husband to her, even though she knows it’s never going to happen. But I think that that is her final, last attempt. And when that fails, everything is over for her. Think about where they are: they have nothing. They have no money, they have no options, they’re losing their home. And to her, it’s okay as long as she has him, and then it’s made clear that she doesn’t even have him anymore. So what is there left for her? A huge hole left for Kai to come in and fill.

I get the sense that there’s some unrequited love between Meadow and Harrison.
Absolutely! In my opinion, Meadow really is in love with Harrison. In my opinion, he’s settling for her because it’s just easier. “Well okay, we’ll get married, she lets me do whatever I want on the side anyway, it’s fine.” For Meadow, it’s like, I will take any part of him that I can get. And if it’s a sad, fake marriage, then I’ll take that. But I do believe that Meadow is genuinely in love with Harrison for real.

When Meadow is having that pinky power scene with Kai, she tells him that the man she loves “has a friend now.” Is she talking about Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes)?
Mmhmm. She sure is.

What’s their connection? How did Samuels get involved with Meadow and Harrison?
I think that will unfold in a really interesting way. But there’s a scene in episode 3 where we’re all together, and you see an exchange of a look between the two of them, and I think that Meadow feels threatened by the detective’s sort of new entrance into their lives.

Meadow is obsessed with pop culture — “Real Housewives,” Nicole Kidman, etc. Is she even interested in politics?
Nope! She sure isn’t, and that will become more apparent as it goes along. I mean, I’m somebody who’s a total political junkie. I was raised in a home where, at the dinner table, you had to know everything that was going on or you just weren’t part of the conversation. So it’s a huge thing in my life, and it was interesting to play somebody who doesn’t care. I think that Meadow is somebody who just sort of lets herself be thrown around by society, what society tells her she’s supposed to be. I think she doesn’t feel like she’s the hero of her own story, and I think that that’s integral to her character, because Kai comes along and says, “Do you want to be in control of your life? I’m going to show you a way to do it.” I think that her indifference to politics is key to why she does the things that she does.

Without asking what actually happens to Meadow, what future do you wish for her? How could she get out of the state she’s in currently?
That’s a good question. Well, the ideal thing that could have happened to Meadow would be that Harrison says, “Go get a life! This is just sad for you.” And then Meadow would say, “You know what? You’re right!” And she would find a community of people who accepted her for who she was and you know, she would meet a nice guy who would appreciate her and maybe they could run an Etsy shop together. I think that would be Meadow riding into the sunset. That would be my wish for Miss Meadow. I wish we could tell you more — I know it’s a huge drag that I can’t, that there’s no spoilers that I can reveal. All I can tell you is: I think people are going to freak out. That’s all I can tell you! I think people are going to be like, “WHAT?!” I think that’s all I can tell you.

This interview has been edited and condensed. “American Horror Story” airs at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays on FX.

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