FX’s psycho-sexual thriller, American Horror Story, from executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, revolves around the Harmons, a family of three who moved from Boston to Los Angeles as a means of reconciling personal anguish and getting a fresh start. But, they quickly discover that their new home comes with its own kind of baggage, as numerous heinous and terrifying acts have occurred there, and the property itself seems to have a strange effect on its residents.
During a recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Alexandra Breckenridge talked about sharing the role of the Harmon’s housekeeper with Frances Conroy (all the women see Conroy, while all the men see her morph into Breckenridge), what a treat it is for her to be working on the show when she’s such a fan of horror movies, how the maid uniform helps her with the physicality and style of the character, and being terrified to work with the iconic Jessica Lange. She also talked about her role on True Blood this past season, doing voice-over work for Family Guy, and what she loves about photography, as an artistic expression. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: How did you get involved with this? Were you looking to do another TV show, or were you approached about doing this role?
ALEXANDRA BRECKENRIDGE: I’ve been doing television for what seems like a really long time, but I just got the audition for it and I really liked the part because it’s something that I haven’t played before. It’s so creepy and eerily sexual, so I was really excited. I really, really wanted it. I read for it literally just one time, and that was it. I got really lucky with this part.
When you read the pilot, was it easy to see the mood and feel that they were looking to go for with this, or did that come more from talking to them about their vision for it?
BRECKENRIDGE: When you’re reading something, your imagination goes and you see it in your mind. Sometimes my instincts with that are right, and sometimes they’re wrong, but in this case, they were right. I think I visualized it in my mind and created the character in the way that they visualized the show.
How would you describe this show to someone wondering whether or not they should tune in?
BRECKENRIDGE: It’s so hard to describe. To me, it takes the best parts of my favorite classic horror movies and spreads them out over a season of television. It’s really high-quality television, comparable to HBO, in my opinion. It’s scary and it’s really twisted.
What do you think Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk bring to the horror genre that makes this show uniquely theirs?
BRECKENRIDGE: I just think they’re such complicated, creative people. They’re so intelligent. Their writing, their character development and their plotlines are so elaborate and so shocking. They know that what shocks and terrifies them is going to shock and terrify other people. Just the way that they weave all of those elements together is completely unique to anything that’s been on television.
How much were you told about this character and what her history is, when you signed on, and how much have you been learning about it as you go?
BRECKENRIDGE: I knew nothing. It was a very small scene that I auditioned for. They’ve been telling me character points, as I’ve been shooting the show. I did have some ideas about the history of the character that I can’t elaborate on, but I did have my own ideas and most of them were pretty much what they had in mind for the character.
With so many flashbacks in this show, will viewers get to learn about the history of your character and what her agenda is throughout the season, or is that going to remain a bit of a mystery?
BRECKENRIDGE: Luckily, with this show and the way that they write, you get answers to questions pretty quickly. You’re not going to be sitting around wondering what’s going on for six years, like with Lost or something. It explains things quickly enough, which I appreciate, as a viewer. I like to know what’s going on.
What’s it been like to share this role with Frances Conroy? Do you spend any time working on the character together?
BRECKENRIDGE: The thing is that we’re playing very different parts of the same character. Both of our intentions are completely different, so we don’t do a lot of character work together because it’s just extremely different. My intention is totally different from Frances’ intention.
Do you watch any of her mannerisms, at all?
Read the rest of the interview here