‘American Horror Story’ is hitting the air again in two weeks and in preparation, members of the press were invited to view the first three episodes of the seventh season, subtitled ‘Cult’. After the screening, the show’s creator Ryan Murphy fielded questions and offered insights into the new installment of the anthology series.
For starters, this will be the first season with no supernatural elements. Murphy admitted that he had been trying for years to build a season around Charles Manson and the Manson Family but couldn’t figure out an angle. But last fall’s Presidential election got him thinking about cults, both literally and in the figurative sense, the “cult of personality.” Series regular, Evan Peters, who has appeared in every installment of the anthology series will portray multiple cult leaders in both senses.
As Murphy put it:
“Throughout the season, [Peters is] playing six different cult leaders: Kai [Anderson], Manson, David Koresh, Andy Warhol, Jim Jones — that’s a big one. We really examine how those people rise to power. … They really are idiots. … Lena [Dunham] is doing an episode called ‘Valerie Solanas Died For Your Sins, Scum Bag.’ That episode is about female rage then and in the country now. Valerie Solanas created a thing called the SCUM Manifesto in which she told all women to kill all men [in order to achieve equal power.] We also examine our female characters as they’re trying to figure out a way they can have equal power within this cult that Kai has created.”
Yes, the creator and star of HBO’s ‘Girls’, Lena Dunham is playing real life figure Valerie Solanas, who attempted to assassinate Warhol, the creator of an art studio called The Factory, a name which was also applied to his sizable entourage. (What we now call a “squad.”) Solanas had attempted to work with Warhol, giving him a script for a play she had written. Warhol claimed to have lost it, but Solanas believed he had actually stolen it and tried to kill him. Instead, she only injured him and later turned herself into the police.
Dunham is only guest starring on the show, as is Emma Roberts, who had leading roles in Seasons 3 (‘Coven’, as Queen B Madison Montgomery) and 4 (‘Freak Show’, as con artist Maggie Esmerelda). Roberts (who has had an on-again/off-again engagement to Peters after they met while filming ‘Coven’– they’re currently on-again) will only appear in one episode as a newscaster named Serinda Belinda who gets promoted over Adina Porter’s character Beverly Hope “simply because she’s much more superficial and willing to do what it takes to survive.”
Porter, who played Lee Harris in last season’s ‘Roanoke’ as well as Sally Freeman in Season One, ‘Murder House’, is also only a guest star. Porter, Dunham and Roberts are joined by vets Frances Conroy and Chaz Bono as well as newcomers Billy Eichner, who is playing a character named Harrison Wilton, Leslie Grossman as Meadow Wilton, Colton Haynes as Detective Samuels and Mare Winningham in an undisclosed role.
In addition to Peters, the regular cast consists of Sarah Paulson as Ally Mayfair-Richards, Cheyenne Jackson as Dr. Rudy Vincent, newcomers Billie Lourd as Winter Anderson and Alison Pill as Ivy Mayfair-Richards, the wife of Paulson’s character. (Both Lourd and Roberts starred on Murphy’s FOX series ‘Scream Queens’.) It’s known that Paulson and Peters’ characters will be romantically involved, but since Peters will be playing multiple roles, it’s entirely possible that Paulson will as well.
While the storyline will revolve around cults, the catalyst that sets it off will center around the election. Also… clowns.
Are you ready for more chills from ‘AHS’?
‘American Horror Story: Cult’ kicks off on September 5th, 2017.