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Top 10 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets About American Horror Story

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
The production stories are just as interesting as the ones in front of the camera. For this list, we’ll be looking at interesting stories and things that have been reported or claimed about the making of FX’s famous show. Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Behind The Scenes Secrets About American Horror Story.

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Top 10 Behind The Scenes Secrets About American Horror Story

The production stories are just as interesting as the ones in front of the camera. Only, not nearly as scary. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten behind the scenes secrets about “American Horror Story.”

For this list, we’ll be looking at interesting stories and things that have been reported or claimed about the making of FX’s famous show.

#10: Denis O’Hare Refused to Speak to Stay in Character

Denis O’Hare is an “American Horror Story” veteran, having appeared in five seasons of the show. In the third season, O’Hare played Spalding, a mute butler who served at Miss Robichaux’s. Apparently, O’Hare is a bit of a method actor, as legend states that he refused to speak to anyone on set in order to stay in character; the silent treatment seemingly applied equally to his fellow actors, directors and the crew. O’Hare instead communicated solely through hand gestures, even while being directed, which we can imagine must have been difficult for all parties involved. But hey, there’s no arguing with the results.

#9: Zachary Quinto Played the Banjo Between Takes to Lighten the Mood

“Asylum” is arguably the darkest season of “American Horror Story,” and working on it was surely a dreary experience. Enter Zachary Quinto and his banjo. Quinto told The Huffington Post that he was learning to play the banjo while shooting the season and took the instrument to work so he could practice between takes and have some fun. According to Quinto, “there’s… something about the tone and quality of the sound... that I think naturally lightens the mood.” We hope he was a quick learner, because we can also imagine that listening to someone learn to play the banjo could get more than a little irritating.

#8: James Cromwell’s Son Played the Younger Version of Himself

One way to ensure that an actor looks like a younger version of a specific character is to cast that character’s real-life son or daughter in the role. That’s exactly what “American Horror Story” did, and it worked perfectly. James Cromwell played Arthur Arden/Hans Grüper, the psychotic chief physician at the hospital. His son, John Cromwell, played a younger version of Arthur in the flashback sequence, so if you wondered how the casting department got such a fantastic lookalike, there you have it. This wasn’t the first or last time John played a younger version of James - he did it in “Memorial Day” in 2012 and ABC’s “Betrayal” in 2013.

#7: It Took Naomi Grossman 3 Hours to Become Pepper

Naomi Grossman portrayed the microcephalic Pepper in both the second and fourth season. It was quite a process for the actress. Upon learning that she was cast as Pepper, Grossman completely shaved her head. As if that wasn’t commitment enough, she also sat in the makeup chair for three hours each day in order to physically become Pepper. This required a layer of glue and a facial prosthetics, fake ears, buck teeth, and one contact lens that blinded her. Just imagine sitting in a chair for three hours, then walking around all day half blind and covered in layers of prosthetics. No thanks.

#6: Evan Peters Needed Lubricant to Get into the Rubber Man Costume

Honestly, working on “American Horror Story” sounds like hell. Evan Peters needed to climb into the latex Rubber Man costume, and it did not sound like fun for the young actor. Peters told Entertainment Weekly that he needed to visit a fetish shop to get fitted for the costume and that it required lubricant in order to slide into the tight and adherent material. Worse, he said it was also very cold and made Evan feel like he was walking around naked. It may have looked cool and creepy in the show, but it required a ton of commitment, and probably a few pulled hairs.

#5: The Murder House Is a Real Location Called Rosenheim Mansion

Those who live in or visit Los Angeles can go see the Murder House for themselves. It’s called the Rosenheim Mansion, and it’s located in Country Club Park. The house was designed and built by notable architect Alfred Rosenheim in 1902 and was subsequently used as a convent. The pilot of “Murder House” was filmed on location, but subsequent episodes were filmed on a set using a replica of the mansion. Unfortunately, the owners of the house have reported trespassing and even a few break-ins, leading to a lawsuit against their realtor and the home’s former owner for damages and the cost of a fence.

#4: Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka Were Supposed to Play Chad & Patrick

For those who need a bit of a refresher, Chad and Patrick were the former owners of Murder House, played respectively by Zachary Quinto and Teddy Sears. However, the roles almost went to real-life couple Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka. Series creator Ryan Murphy personally approached Harris and Burtka with the offer, but they turned it down not wanting to rehash roles, having just played a dysfunctional kinda-couple in “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.” Luckily, there seemed to be no hard feelings, as they both appeared in “Freak Show,” with Harris portraying Chester Creb and Burtka playing Michael Beck.

#3: The Asylum Was Actually a Courthouse

Who can forget the large, imposing nature of Briarcliff Manor? Its arches, stonework, and Romanesque Revival style lends it a spooky atmosphere, and its size is truly intimidating. The location scouts clearly did a great job when they selected Old Orange County Courthouse in California to serve as the main setting of season 2. This is Southern California’s oldest courthouse, having been dedicated in 1901. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is used as a museum. It has also been used as a filming location for over a century, having appeared in the 1916 silent film “The Flying Torpedo.”

#2: Professional Clowns Are Not About Twisty

Yes, professional clowns ARE still a thing, and no, they did not like the depiction of Twisty in “Freak Show.” The Clowns of America International, whose base is made up of over 2,000 professional clowns, have gone on record regarding their hatred of Twisty, saying, “We do not support in any way, shape or form any medium that sensationalizes or adds to coulrophobia, or ‘clown fear.’” Unfortunately for them, storytellers have been using clowns as villains for over a century, dating at least as far back as Edgar Allan Poe’s 1849 “Hop-Frog,” which told the tale of a psychotic and vengeful court jester.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Kathy Bates Spoke in Her Baltimore Accent All Day

Ben Woolf, the Actor Who Played Infantata & Meep, Was a Pre-School Teacher

Every Scene with Bette & Dot Took Between 12 to 15 Hours to Complete

#1: The Role of Constance Was Originally Much Smaller

Jessica Lange was undoubtedly the star of “Murder House,” despite a cast full of notable celebs. And to think, her role was originally much smaller. Ryan Murphy had written Constance with Lange in mind, having been greatly influenced by her performance as Blanche DuBois on Broadway. After Lange agreed to do the show, Murphy and Brad Falchuk re-wrote significant portions of the script and expanded Constance from a small supporting role to one of the season’s main characters. Murphy stated that he wanted to expose Lange’s talents, and it seems to have worked. She has since received critical acclaim for her work and has become popular amongst a new generation of viewers.


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