Tonight is the highly anticipated premiere of American Horror Story: Asylum, the second installment of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s terror anthology for FX. EW revealed many of AHS: Asylum’s secrets in our exclusive August cover story, which took readers inside the titular mental institution, Briarcliff Manor. “To me, last year was a family drama,” says Falchuk. “This is our version of a workplace drama.” Now with the premiere hours away, here’s a primer on what you need to know before entering the walls of Briarcliff. And be sure visit EW.com tonight for our EXCLUSIVE post-show Q&A with Ryan Murphy.
Leo (Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) and Teresa (Jenna Dewan -Tatum) are the unfortunate modern-day newlyweds who choose to spend their honeymoon within the corridors of the now-abandoned Briarcliff. Once they set foot inside, all hell breaks loose, and the pair are unwittingly thrust into a gory fight for their lives. Teases Levine: “It is absolutely terrifying. Very gruesome. And what’s great about the fact that it’s on FX is that you can go too far. You can do really unorthodox, crazy things that people are going to talk about.”
Originally a tuberculosis ward, Briarcliff Manor was bought by the Catholic Church in 1963 and transformed into a sanitarium. Monsignor Timothy O’Hara (Joseph Fiennes) and the formidable Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) are in charge and Jude definitely has the hots for her boss. Says Lange, “I think she actually lusts after the Monsignor. I think we would be safe to say that.” Jude is assisted in her daily duties with help from Sister Eunice (Lily Rabe). “People are very dismissive of Eunice and think she’s stupid, but Sister Jude sees something in her and has taken her as her favorite, as her right-hand nun,” says Rabe.
Kit (Evan Peters) and Lana (Sarah Paulson) are both outsiders committed to Briarcliff, against their will. They’re surrounded by a motley crew of inmates, including a sex addict (Chloë Sevigny), a degenerate bully (Mark Consuelos), and the enigmatic Grace (Lizzie Brocheré), who develops a friendship with Kit. “I think she’s kind of observing,” says Brocheré of her character. “You see her always in the corner. And she carries a f—ing story with her.”
Briarcliff residents definitely do not want an appointment with James Cromwell’s Dr. Arden. Says the actor, “He does torture and I think even winds up killing a number of patients.” Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto) appears to be at the opposite end of the spectrum (although Quinto doesn’t pop up until episode two of AHS: Asylum). “He’s the most forward-thinking, contemporary member of this asylum,” says Quinto. “They seem to be rooted in techniques and in philosophies that he considers pretty barbaric.”
He/she is named Bloody Face for good reason: this killer of women has fashioned a mask made out of the victims flesh and hair and teeth. In other words, it ain’t pretty. Says Murphy, “You think Bloody Face has died back in the ‘60s but he shows up [in the present]. The question is Is it the real Bloody Face? Who is Bloody Face? Or is it an imposter?”
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