By now many of you watched the first episode of FX’s new shock-a-palooza and have many questions. (Be sure to check out my colleague Jeff Jensen’s recap.) Who is Rubber Man? What the hell is in that basement? How fabulous is Jessica Lange? Thankfully, co-creator Ryan Murphy, who conceived the show alongside Brad Falchuk, talked to EW exclusively about the wild first hour and what’s in store for next week’s episode.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is the complete opposite of Glee. Did you and Brad want to do something more akin to Nip/Tuck?
RYAN MURPHY: Well, we were working on this before Glee. I can only speak about me but I like to do the opposite of what I’ve just done. So we’re doing some squeaky clean, sweet, optimistic, non-cynical piece, I wanted to do something that sorta tapped into the different side of my personality. I’ve always obviously been drawn to darker things. But this is really about our love for horror particularly which we felt as children and references from our pop culture youth. But more than that, I like to create stuff just because I’m interested, like, “I wanna watch a show about this.” There was a shortage of creature-baby-in-the-basement-shows on TV [laughs]. I wanted to see it!
You directed the pilot. Do you have a favorite moment or sequence?
My favorite sequence is we call it, “When the infantata attacks.” I loved [the moment when Violet’s bully is attacked in the basement] for several reasons. I loved the design of that creature. I love the influence on it. When we designed it, it was sort of a pastiche of different ideas. The mouth of it, which you see for two brief milliseconds, is based on a leech mouth, a picture of a leech mouth I found. I have a lot of reference books. There was a picture I was obsessed with of a child with progeria which is that aging quickly [disorder]. The gown our costume designer Lou and I worked on really closely is sorta closely modeled on the Lindbergh baby.
The idea for it was one of the scariest things I ever saw: Diane Keaton getting killed in Looking for Mr. Goodbar because the killing was done in strobe. There was a little bit of that in the water. It was written as a straight scene. Again, the whole show is about me and the writers sitting in a room and talking about the times we have been scared. That was a time I was really really scared, to the point where I didn’t sleep for a week and my parents wouldn’t let me go to the movies for a month. I just remember being scared about that because it’s the millisecond of blackness where you’re like, “What happens?” That’s my favorite in terms of the production. I mean, I love the acting. I love the Connie and Dylan fight. I love the Jessica “Don’t Make Me Kill You Again” line.
Will there be a pay-off to that line?
Oh yeah! It’s the whole third episode. We find out why she killed her.
I’m guessing people will mostly be talking about Rubber Man. Is that supposed to be a real man?
Oh, I can’t say that. And I have taken a poll even among the crew: Who Do You Think Rubber Man Is? And no one got it right. I was shocked because I think it’s so obvious. Who do you think it is?
I think it’s the doctor who previously lived in the house.
Hmmm, interesting. I actually know a lot of people who are going as Rubber Man for Halloween so it’s very exciting. One of the goals too is I love all those monsters like Jason and Freddy Krueger. To create a creature…well, I guess we did it because people have gone as Sue Sylvester for Halloween. But I would love for a couple to go as Sue and Rubber Man. That’s my dream.
Based on the first episode, it seems like Vivian (Connie Britton) is pregnant with Rubber Man’s baby.
Yes, it does seem that way. You very quickly find out that not all is well with this pregnancy and who you think is the father is not.
My colleague, Jeff Jensen, thought that the show’s title font might be an homage to The Haunting of Hill House. Is that true?
That is a coincidence. I used to be an editor of the school paper in high school and college and I’ve always been obsessed with typography, which is another weird obsession. I have 25 different books about different type faces from all over the world. Whenever I do a show, I like to flip through the books and see which one talks to me. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. But this jumped out at me. It very much looks to me like a 1920s house.
What’s up with the two different versions of Moira, the maid?
That is definitely something that they would have and should have done on Dark Shadows but they didn’t – to have two actresses play one character. It’s really fun for our actresses because they do the character in very different ways: one is definitely the bad ego – the bad id – and one is the good.
Tease next week’s episode “Home Invasion,” in which the Harmon house is preyed upon by intruders.
Next week’s episode came about because in the writer’s room we talk about, What are our fears? And all of us have that one. I’m really scared about someone breaking into my house. It’s about what would you do if you moved into a place, somebody broke in, and you survived? Would you look at your house as a place of survival or a place of hauntedness? What would you do – would you get out or would you stay? It was also loosely based on the Richard Speck murders.
Have a question about American Horror Story you want Ryan Murphy to answer? Post your queries in the comments section and we’ll select the best ones to ask.
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