‘American Horror Story: Cult’ Stars Say Politics Was Scarier Subject Matter Than Clowns

Sarah Paulson, Billy Eichner, Leslie Grossman and more spoke to The Hollywood Reporter at a panel for the seventh season of 'American Horror Story' moderated by Ryan Murphy himself.
Courtesy of FX

Ryan Murphy had planned to tackle the cult of personality surrounding politics in the seventh season of American Horror Story even before the 2016 election rolled around. But, the creator told the audience at an Emmy FYC panel at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills on Friday night, after election night, he knew that’s where he wanted to begin.

That meant AHS: Cult was one of the first scripted series to tackle the election in a meaningful way. Star Sarah Paulson told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet before the panel — which Murphy himself moderated — that she and her costars thought that maybe they’d already worked through their feelings about the election by the time they began filming Cult. They were wrong, she said.

“By the time we were shooting … we all thought that maybe we were not over it, but in a place where having to access this would be sort of easy,” she said. “But we all kind of felt, as we were watching the tape, it was just really hard to believe that it happened. And it just felt way too fresh. Too soon to be reenacting it with a sense of safety for your internal well-being. But instead, it was like, nope, go in there and pick at it.”

AHS newcomers Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman both told THR that while they found the season fun and fulfilling creatively, it was tough subject matter to tackle.

Kathy Bates

“From the perspective of dealing with Trump, it’s one of those things that’s like, if you don’t deal with it on some level then your work can feel irrelevant, because it’s the thing that’s on everyone’s mind in the media all the time nowadays,” Eichner said. “It’s such a huge…

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