American Horror Story is the type of show you watch through the cracks of your fingers as you pray its gruesome imagery doesn’t flower into nightmare overnight. Each season features mostly the same cast, but is a self-contained story; the first one, Murder House, was about a family stuck in a haunted house, while the second, Asylum, took place among the nuns, patients and…others in the Briarcliff Mental Institution. The third season, entitled Coven, premieres tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX Canada and is about—of course—witches. FLARE chatted with star Evan Peters from the set of American Horror Story: Coven in New Orleans about feeling like a “frat boy” amongst revered castmembers like Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates and returning star Jessica Lange, his own personal limits and what it was really like slipping into that latex suit.
FLARE: Do you enjoy the structure of the series and being able to play a new character each season?
Evan Peters: I like being able to work with the same actors as different characters; you get to learn how they work, but also get to see different sides of them; in a way, it almost feels like you are working with new people.
FLARE: If the series had a continued plot line, which character’s story would you have liked to pick back up?
EP: I’d probably say Tate [from Season 1] because he was just a fascinating character. I would have loved to see what would have happened to him in that house and how the dynamic between Dylan McDermott’s character and his family could have changed. I really liked working with Dylan McDermott. I thought he was a fantastic actor and the therapy scenes between him and I were just so very real.
FLARE: Any favorite moments from either season?
EP: Being able to work with Jessica Lange on both seasons was amazing because she’s just a legend. I also really enjoyed being able to work with Zachary Quinto in two different lights.
FLARE: Were any scenes particularly difficult to film?
EP: All of them: every single one of those scenes were difficult to film! It’s really strange trying to make this fantasy world into a reality; you sort of go into your imagination and hope for the best. It is such a challenging job, especially considering the time constraints.
FLARE: Has anything scary ever happened on set?
EP: Nothing crazy has ever happened to me but I have heard some stories from people saying they’ve heard things on set, especially while shooting in New Orleans. It’s such a spooky town and one of the most haunted cities in the world, with a lot of things going on like voodoo, so there’s bound to be something happening here.
FLARE: Has there ever been anything that Ryan Murphy (show creator) has thrown your way, where you’ve thought how am I going to pull this off or this is too much?
EP: Every episode there is something thrown out there that I feel totally overwhelmed by or am too scared to do. Just doing it in front of the cast and crew is mortifying enough, but to put that out there in front of all he people watching the show is something that is just truly terrifying. That’s mostly what my nightmares are about!
FLARE: As an actor, is there anywhere you’d draw the line?
EP: There is always that fine line between being gratuitous and telling a story, and you never want to tread too close to the other side, but American Horror Story is a scary, graphic and scandalous show, so its very out there. I am willing to do a lot of things just be part of the show.
FLARE: Why do you think people are drawn to the show?
EP: I think the format helps bring people back and it also adds new viewers because you don’t have to watch the previous season to really get into it. It’s also this great drama that is very character-driven and the dialogue is rich. It’s both creepy and funny, but they also really say stuff with the show and tackle social issues.
FLARE: Given that Coven is about witches, who is your favorite movie witch?
EP: I’d say Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus; she was awesome. It’s a light, fun witch movie but it was also scary.
FLARE: Let’s play a game, would you rather:
1. Be haunted by a ghost or abducted by aliens?
EP: Haunted by a ghost, definitely, but I guess it depends: is it a ghost that follows you or is it one that cannot leave the house? If it follows you, it’d depend if it was a bad or good ghost. If I was abducted, I’d want to know if it was a really probing alien. If it was just a buddy who wanted to get a coffee and just say, “Hey, what’s going on on Earth?”, I could definitely do that.
2. Be wrongfully committed to a psychiatric ward or wrongfully put in jail?
EP: I think I’d take psych ward. It’s little less dangerous, the clothes are a little more comfortable, you have a little more room, and maybe you can watch TV and stuff.
3. Play a super-hero or super-villain?
EP: Probably the super-villian. I think it’s just more fun to just be evil and have a maniacal laugh. There needs to be something wrong with the hero in order for him to be a cool hero for me. He can’t just be Superman.
4. Wear the latex suit from American Horror Story: Murder House or the Quicksilver suit from your upcoming role in X-Men: Days of Future Past?
EP: Probably the Quicksilver suit: the latex suit was so cold and uncomfortable and provided very little movement. I didn’t have to stay in it long, about four to five hours at a time. At the beginning of the show, Ryan played the rubberman and he would just stay in that thing all day long. I couldn’t believe he did that.
5. Dress up for Halloween or not?
EP: Yes to costumes! I am the guy who decides, like, 24 hours before and pulls it together. Last year I failed horribly, but this year I am going to step it up a notch. Last year, I was working and the 24-hour thing that usually works did not work; my girlfriend was dressed to the nines and looked amazing and I put on cowboy boots and looked ridiculous. The best costume was one my mom made for me as a kid: a sweet werewolf costume that I wore for, like, four years in a row.