×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Remote Controlled: ‘American Horror Story: Cult’ Star Evan Peters on Politics, Power and What’s in Store for the Finale

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with Evan Peters about how “Cult” compares with past seasons of “American Horror Story.”

“It’s a lot more work for sure,” he says. “It’s more grounded in reality, which I think makes it a lot scarier.”

Peters returns in the show’s seventh season to play a number of characters, including blue-haired cult leader Kai Anderson.

“The blue hair was my idea,” he shares. “It just made me think of Michigan and Detroit. I wanted him to lure people in and attract them and make them think, and to also turn the whole town and world upside down. The blue hair was something that allowed me to get into that head space and make people’s eyes gravitate toward me.”

He does admit, “I wasn’t initially wanting to make it that blue. I was like, ‘Well, maybe we can make it washed out, like maybe it was blue a while ago and it faded out from that.’ But Ryan [Murphy] specifically wanted it to be a very strong blue because Kai, he said, the name means strong. We had to dye it a couple times a week, which was very frustrating, but it did look strong.”

This season is loosely based on the 2016 election. Both power and politics motivate Kai, Peters says, though he adds, “politics is his means to get as much power as he can.”

And how far is Kai willing to go to get power? “Obviously incredibly far. I’ve already killed my brother,” he says. “Going as far as to kill your own brother to maintain your power and your status and your symbol to your followers is incredibly extreme.”

Throughout his run on the show, Peters says he’s learned to just trust Murphy’s vision.

“He’s having the character do what he does for a reason, whether that’s to throw a mirror up to the real world or to frighten people or to awaken them,” Peters says. “He has his finger on the pulse, and it’s just in your benefit to just go with it.”

Peters also hinted at the finale, which he says didn’t surprise him. “I saw where it was going, and I’m glad it went there,” he shares. “There’s a lot of power being taken back by women, which is very cool.”

One thing he’s gained in his multiple seasons working on “American Horror Story” is the ability to memorize massive amounts of dialogue, he shares.

“They always say it’s a muscle, and I’d always say, ‘Bulls—. I don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s not a muscle.’ But it is kind of like a muscle. It’s like part of your brain that you just keep using, the memorization part, and it just gets easier and easier and easier until it almost becomes second nature.”

Evan Peters photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled Podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

An added challenge of this season, however, was acting with himself and playing multiple characters. “I just kept feeling like I was Eddie Murphy in ‘The Nutty Professor.’ The very, very twisted version,” he jokes.

Still, he says, as an actor, he will always rise to the opportunity for an occasion. “There was no room for self doubt. I had to get rid of that, and I’ve always, always doubted myself and I still do, really horribly actually, it’s terrible. So it was cool to put that aside and just try to have confidence and believe in myself.”

Playing a self-assured character like Kai gave him a confidence boost, he says, adding, “To be in the skin and the power that Kai has, to sort of order people around and be adulated the way that he was by the Proud Boys, it was quite empowering because I don’t feel that in everyday life.”

Peters also teased his character’s future. “It’s all going to fall apart. He’s going to use every last drop of everything that’s personal to him and important to him to go after what he wants. He will stop at nothing.”

Even Peters doesn’t know how — or if — the seasons intersect, though he does have theories. “There’s one little line, where it’s like, ‘You wouldn’t accept an interview from Lana Winters,’ or something like that,” he points out. “It’s like the smallest little connection ever, but pages will be written on it. Maybe one day it will all connect.”

One season he’d like to revisit is “Murder House.” “To get everybody back would be so cool. Everyone’s gotten a little older, I know ghosts can’t really age,” he laughs.

Peters says the anthology factor of the show, which allows for new storylines from returning actors, best resonates with fans.

“It’ll also satisfy that ADD we all have now where it’s something new and something fresh, but there’s something familiar about it, and you’re still seeing some of the same actors and that feels cool,” he says.

You can listen to this week’s podcast here:

New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday, and you can find past episodes here.

More TV

  • 'The Crown': Josh O'Connor, Erin Doherty

    'The Crown': Josh O'Connor, Erin Doherty on Charles and Anne 'Breaking the Mold'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The Crown” Season 3 on Netflix. The arrivals of Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Princess Anne (Erin Doherty) midway through “The Crown’s” third season infuse the show with a youthful energy reminiscent of the first two years. But, they also offer a sense of rebelliousness, [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Harry Styles"

    Harry Styles Premieres New Song, Plays Trash-Eating Dog on ‘Saturday Night Live’ (Watch)

    The past couple of seasons of “Saturday Night Live” have seen some impressive hosting/musical performer double-duty stints, including Childish Gambino, Halsey and Chance the Rapper — and last night Harry Styles was more than up to the challenge. The singer appeared in nearly every skit — including turns as a naïve office intern, a gangster, [...]

  • Mindy Kaling Actors on Actors

    Why Mindy Kaling Turned to Social Media to Find the Lead of Her Netflix Series

    Constance Wu (“Hustlers”) and Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) explained how the internet helped expand the casting pool for their projects during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” Wu began the interview: “When I did ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and they were looking for actors, it was crazy how many people said, ‘Well, there are [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Harry Styles"

    'Saturday Night Live' Turns the Impeachment Hearings Into a Soap Opera (Watch)

    “Saturday Night Live” kicked off its Nov. 16 episode with a take on the biggest news story of the previous week (and foreseeable future): the impeachment hearings. But another big story of the week, especially in Hollywood, was how NBC’s last remaining daytime drama, “Days of our Lives,” had let its actors out of their [...]

  • Andy Cohen attends BravoCon's "Watch What

    'The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City' to Debut in 2020

    Bravo announced Saturday during its first annual BravoCon that a tenth “Real Housewives” series, “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” will debut in 2020. Bravo host and “Real Housewives” executive producer Andy Cohen made the announcement during a panel titled “Ask Andy” at the NYC convention. “We’ve always tried to choose a city that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content