Dylan McDermott interview

American Horror Story star on why the show will give you the creeps

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Terror-inducing TV drama American Horror Story has been nominated for 17 Emmy Awards this year alone (the same as Mad Men) and, with one Golden Globe already in the bag, the series is making waves for its acclaimed style of chilling drama. The show, which debuted in the US in October 2011, tells the story of the haunting of the Harmon family. After relocating to LA, the trio’s world begins to fall apart when they discover their new home is plagued by unexplained occurrences.

Oscar-winning actress Jessica Lange, who has a knack for playing affected characters, won the Best Actress Golden Globe for her role as Constance Langdon. Looking to boost the awards haul is leading man Dylan McDermott: already well known for his role in legal drama The Practice, McDermott plays man of the house Ben Harmon. But what else can we expect? Read on, if you dare.

What is it about the psychology of the characters that makes the show so riveting?
The metaphor is the broken family. So many of us are now coming from broken families and there’s a fractured society; the Harmons are suffering from the same thing. An indiscretion has broken up this marriage and Ben is desperate to try to keep it all together. Daughter Violet is feeling the fallout, so although it’s a horror show, the grounding aspect is this family and trying to keep them together.

Where does the authenticity come from?
This show taps into our unconscious fears: I think that in our dream life, these things exist. [Writers] Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have really tapped into that. We all have a Rubber Man in our dreams somewhere –
we have someone who’s chasing us, someone who is the bad guy in our dreams – and in this instance it’s the Rubber Man. That’s the brilliance of the show. It’s an unconscious piece and everyone’s reacting to it because it’s tapping into our worst fears.

Does the show go too far?
Absolutely. It’s supposed to go too far, you know what I mean? You’re supposed to feel uncomfortable, you’re supposed to feel scared, you’re supposed to squirm. Entertainment Weekly did a poll and we turned out to be the creepiest show of all time, topping The X Files and Twin Peaks. It’s a creepy, uneasy ride and that’s the fun of it.

Do you get weirded out?
I’ve always been attracted to this world. My favourite director is Roman Polanski, so to me, this is what it’s like. In many ways, it’s that weird Rosemary’s Baby world that we’re mirroring in many ways. In fact, I think Rosemary’s Baby was shot on this very stage in 1967.
American Horror Story debuts on Thursday August 23 at 11pm on OSN First and airs at the same time every Thursday.

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