Ever since American Horror Story’s 2011 beginnings, Evan Peters has been an indispensable part of the action. As Tate Langdon in Murder House, Kit Walker in Asylum, Kyle Spencer in Coven, Jimmy Darling in Freak Show and James Patrick March in Hotel, Peters held his own alongside such veteran actors as Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy and Kathy Bates. Peters, for his part, is grateful to AHS’ creator Ryan Murphy for bringing him back again and again. “Ryan has always just been very giving to me when it comes to the show,” Peters says, “and has always given me amazing roles that I love.”
AHS has also brought Peters plenty of notice elsewhere–he was cast as Quicksilver in X-Men: Apocalypse after director Bryan Singer saw him on AHS, and is now set to appear in the Bryan Buckley-directed Where The White Man Runs Away, co-starring Al Pacino and Melanie Griffith.
What do you think has made you a mainstay of the show? And now you’re coming back for Season 6.
I don’t know. I really like the show. I really want to do a great job and I don’t take for granted the characters that they give me. It is a very out-there show, so I try to make it as real as I can, but all the while having a fun time with it. They’ve been very nice to me and I hope they keep inviting me back to play with their writing. I’d do it forever. I love working on the show and I love working with their writing and also with the other actors as well.
Can you hint at all about Season 6?
I don’t know what’s coming next, so no I can’t. I would love to know. When you know, let me know.
What have been your favorite roles so far in AHS?
Mr. March has been my favorite so far. I like Tate a lot and I like Mr. March. Playing the villain is really fun–especially a character as colorful as Mr. March–and just that 1930s art deco craziness that he had going on, with the whiskey drinking, smoking, suit-wearing kind of guy. It was a very fun role to play. Then also Tate was a very complex role as well. I like playing the villain, but I like trying to figure out why they are that way and trying to sympathize with them a little bit in some way. Maybe some people are innately evil, but then there’s always something that sort of pushes them over the edge and makes them act on those thoughts or feelings, so I always try to figure out what that was and try to give it some sort of justification so that I’m not just playing evil for evil’s sake.
Pictured with American Horror Story: Coven co-stars (L-R): Lily Rabe; Taissa Farmiga, Sarah Paulson and Emma Roberts
Another constant on the show is Sarah Paulson and now she’s back again too for Season 6. How has it been working with her?
She is amazing. First of all to me, Sarah’s hilarious. She’s very funny and very quick-witted and just a lovely person. I love working with her. I love knowing her and talking to her, laughing with her. And then you get into the fact that she’s more than talented. Last year she was working on Marcia Clark (American Crime Story) and on Horror Story and I don’t know how she was doing that. That was crazy to me. But she was so professional and seasoned almost. She knows how to do it and how to get it done and just does it. It’s not always easy and she fights that and fights through that and makes it look really easy.
What’s been the most challenging thing that you could’ve pushed yourself to do as part of the series?
Well, last year was pretty difficult when I first got the role. I originally was going to play Tristan and then sort of last minute, Ryan was like, “Will you play this Mr. March guy?” And I was like, “Oh s—. I don’t know if I can do that.” He’s like, “And I want you to talk like you’re from the 1930s.” Okay. I didn’t quite know how to do that either, so I just watched a lot of My Man Godfrey and William Powell and just tried to research it to come up with a backstory that would justify me being this role. Originally I think it was written as a 40-something year-old man. I don’t look like I’m 40, and to try to play that is ridiculous, so I just tried to make it as this really young successful man, similar to a young oil tycoon or something like that, where he’s got all this money and power and he’s a total monster inside. I had a blast doing it.
How about some of those awkward scenes?
I blocked them out. I’m like, “I can’t even think about it.” There’s a scene where I’m having sex and cutting this girl up. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I was in my trailer trying to work it out. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. And then to top it all off, you have to drop your drawers and be naked while you’re doing it. It was weird. Very, very weird. At one point, they had to have me tape… never mind. I don’t even want to go there. I talked to makeup and I said, “I want to be like a shark with all those scars on them,” so they gave me some really cool back scars and that sort of helped me get out of myself and get into Mr. March. God love her, the poor girl who was on the receiving end was very gracious and made it very easy to do.
How was working with Lady Gaga? She’s relatively new to acting.
Well, I mean to me, it was exciting because she is new to acting, but she is very good at it and was willing to get into it more than a lot of veteran actors, so it was very refreshing and cool to see her dive into it. Each take was very different and sometimes a little scary because you didn’t know what you were going to get. You didn’t know if she was going to be actually hitting you or freaking out or whatnot. It was all very instinctual, which was very cool to work with and sort of get you out of your head and sort of back into the instinct of acting. It was awesome to work with her. I learned a lot.
What can you say about the film Where the White Man Runs Away?
It’s about a journalist named Jay Bahadur. It’s based on a true story about a guy who goes to Somalia by himself at age 24 to write about the Somali pirates to get a book deal. It’s sort of his trials and tribulations but also, you know, growing to love the Somali culture and learning about them and about himself. It’s a big-fish-out-of-water story. It’s also very funny.
How did you prep for the part?
I read Jay’s book and it is very interesting and very informative about the whole Somali culture. Most of the cast are Somali refugees. It was kind of amazing to work with them and learn a lot about them and integrate into their mindset.