We’ve never seen anything quite like the 13 hours of American Horror Story: Asylum. Nuns. Aliens. Nazis. Anne Frank. Denture Christmas ornaments. Mutant Mark Consuelos. Chloe Sevigny sans legs. And it all culminated in an utterly satisfying and brilliant season finale. Lana (Sarah Paulson) became a Barbara Walters-esque media star while Jude (Jessica Lange) and Kit (Evan Peters) forged a surprising, almost-familial bond. EW chatted with co-creator Ryan Murphy about AHS: Asylum for one final time and got a few more details about the third season.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First thing I wanna talk about is how incredibly brilliant and Emmy-worthy Sarah Paulson is in this episode. What do you think?
RYAN MURPHY: I really agree with that. I think that she really knocked it out of the park. She to me was the big surprise of the season. I’ve been friends with Sarah for a long time but I think she’s one of the most talented—if not THE most talented—actress of her generation. I think she has an incredibly long and exceptional career ahead of her. But for the Emmys it’s a little disheartening because there’s no longer a supporting actress category. So for my money I would be thrilled if Jessica and Sarah and Lily Rabe and Frances Conroy all got nominated because I think they’re just four spectacular actresses with four spectacular performances.
Lana really emerged as the heart of this season. Did that evolve? Or did you like Lana’s story as it went on? Or was it Sarah’s performance? She did really become an important part of the story.
She did. When I pitched this season, the original final episode was all just going to be Act One. It was gonna be a longer version of that. The original finale was gonna be Sarah Paulson now free, a Jacqueline Susann/Truman Capote type, gets a kick in her conscience from Kit and goes back in and shuts that down. And we were gonna have the whole last hour be a documentary of her doing that. But I think when we were working on that I thought “I don’t want to see feces smeared people for an hour. It’s so grim.” So we abandoned that around episode 10. We thought let’s give Jude a happy ending. Let’s make that one act. But let’s really make the last act Paulson vs. Bloody Face. So we broke that out early on but kept the original idea. I was thrilled with the changes. I was very thrilled with how emotional it was. Some of that was John Landgraf who felt very strongly that Kit needed to go back in and get Sister Jude out not for himself but for his children. That dialogue was all sort of John’s that I thought was very beautiful. Tim [Minear] did a breath-taking script. It just all came together.
Did Barbara Walters inspire modern-day Lana?
Well yes, 100% it was Barbara Walters. It was also a little bit of Brooke Astor. When we were doing Sarah’s make-up, we sorta did the math and I think Sarah Paulson’s character was like 2 years younger than Barbra Walters so we really looked at photos today of Barbara and copied that make up. But the truth of the matter, Barbara looks so much better than Lana.
Also, I liked the commentary of fame as a modern day horror, which I have come to believe it is. So that was a fun add.
And she’s got a hot lady!
And she’s got a hot lady lesbian opera singer. I loved all that stuff that Tim wrote about dinner with the Sondheims. I loved all that.
The big set pieces of the alien abduction and the Angel of Death arrival were both played scary. But this time they were reassuring and beautiful with people in pain taken away.
Yeah. I think they were both horror tropes that then became a release of pain, salvation. I wanted all three of those characters—Jessica, Evan, and Sarah—to get their happy ending I think they did. I really imagined that Kit—I’ve said this before—is like Richard Dreyfus at the end of Close Encounters and they probably cure him and give him some happy resolve.
Sarah was telling me that the final scenes you guys shot was her confrontation with Dylan. It’s interesting the show ended with that momentous meeting.
It was a very long period of days in that apartment. I just thought Dylan was such a great surprise.
He can eat an éclair very scarily.
I thought he was quite brilliant in that part. I think people were blown away from that side of him. Dylan is so good and versatile and hasn’t been able to show because he usually plays the Ben Harmon type or the lawyer from The Practice. I think he really got into that dirt-under-the-fingernails kind of thing.
It’s funny to see Evan being maternal to Jessica because she was the worst mother in the world to him in season one.
Yeah it’s like Constance finally got the son she always wanted. That’s the fun of the show. Every season of it is so flipped.
I told you this already but I think that AHS: Asylum, as a whole, is the best thing you’ve ever done. It really is a high point. Do you feel the same?
I really am humbled that you say that. For me, this season was a transition and a gateway drug of things I’m interested in doing in the future. I’m glad I have this under my belt before I go and direct The Normal Heart in New York because I felt it was of a piece. I don’t know. I feel like my career is so strange and so bizarre because I do a lot of different genres and I never do the same thing in a row. But I was very proud of it and I was very proud of the Catholic thing. I was very proud of the mental health stuff. Even when we first started this, this idea of can this possibly work? After this season I feel like it’s a resounding yes it can work. I think this show could do now 10 years and I’d be interested in doing it that long and I like that every year will be a completely different tone and message and visual look. A lot of people loved season one and didn’t love season two as much. A lot of people who loved season two didn’t like the lightness of season one. I think it’s an interesting show for fans too and I like that about it. My favorite thing about it was the research of all that stuff and I think our production crew and costumer and DP did such a great job being true to reality.
So you have Sarah and Jessica and Evan all lined up to return?
Yes I do.
Do you want people from season two and season one?
A mixture of both and then I’m meeting new people. I’m meeting new actresses. I’m meeting some really cool people. I think the story is good and so far has attracted a great interest from people because of what it’s about which is fun.
You had said you wanted a younger romance in season 3. Would Taissa Farmiga, who’s in talks to return, be part of that?
Yes. There’s a romantic element. I think the whole season I want to be funnier, romantic. But make no mistake, just when I think it’s gonna be a little lighter, I find this great, true-life character that’s the most horrible woman ever created.
Is that character the main villain?
Um kind of. I think Jessica is going back to be in that Constance-vein. She’s gonna go back to her evil roots, Jessica Lange.
I’ve had enough of her being a martyr.
I want constant makeup, gowns and a full on blow out for every scene!
People are dying to know what season 3 is about. Can you say anything more?
No. I start meeting with the writers on Monday. I’ve talked to them about what I want to do and everyone loves it. I want to flesh it out a bit before I announce it. I have like 6 nominees for the word. You know this year the word was “asylum.” I’m trying to figure out which is the best one.
Do the actors know more specifics?
No. And, believe you me, they have all called. I mean yes they know. To get Taissa to come back, I had to pitch her the whole idea. So some people know. But some of those actors don’t want to know til they read a script.
And you signed Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who directed the finale?
Yes, Alfonso is going to be our producer/director so he will be directing a lot of them. He will be working with me to really create the look of what we’re doing. What we’re doing is more ambitious than what we’ve ever done.
So this one will be shot on location? Or on soundstages?
No this one will be shot on location in 3 different cities in the country. I should just say that it’s American Horror Story: Bret Easton Ellis and the whole thing is set in his mind. Wouldn’t that be brilliant? Maybe that’s season four.
still recovering from the finale.
and nhf tate/violet 2.0 next season. i need lange and paulson to be joined by conroy, rabe, cromwell and o'hare and all will be right in the world ty