Denis O’Hare is on his second season with “American Horror Story,” playing a sleazy con man who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty for a little profit, and a man with a rather risque sex life on “Freak Show.” O’Hare sat down in a media conference call recently to dish on whether he’d be back next season and just how far can Ryan Murphy push the limits of what TV will allow with his “freak show” this season?
Q: Are you coming back for the next season of “American Horror Story?” And if so, are you hoping to play maybe a somewhat normal character for a change, or would you hope Ryan pushes the envelope even farther and gets more outrageous and disturbing?
Denis O’Hare: While watching last week’s episode while I was standing in the road basically doing obscene things to Michael Chiklis I thought, can we push the envelope further? How much envelope is left? But we never know what’s going to happen. It’s Ryan’s world and we just wait for word.
He would love for me to be in next season, but that’s an informal invitation. When I joined last year I signed a two year contract, so the idea is that I would come back for this year. But until he comes up with the idea and until he finds parts for us, we really have to wait. Last year I got a call, I think about mid-January, where he offered me Stanley, so this year if it all follows the same pattern I should be hearing from him sometime in January or February.
In terms of what I want to play again, I trust him. He’s got really good taste when it comes to fitting us to our roles. I feel really happy with what I’ve been able to do so far. I loved Spalding. I thought he was such an unusual character and a great technical challenge. But I really do love Stanley. And Stanley’s kind of normal. He’s not disfigured in any way, I mean, really. And he’s charming in a way. So, I’ll take another Stanley.
Q: I was wondering if this role has made you think about the gay community and how it’s changed, and going to the retro gay bar and all that?
DO: Yes, definitely. I think what’s so great about Ryan and Brad and the team of writers is that they’re never content to simply write about one thing. They’re always using the occasion to raise awareness or consciousness. And certainly this series this year seems to be about physical abnormalities and what we consider to be a freak, or normal, but there are subtler applications.
And one of the subtler applications, of course, is the way that gay people were thought of and treated. And it’s really interesting to see Dell as one expression of that, somebody who’s so deeply closeted that he actually considers hanging himself in the last episode, to someone like Stanley, who just seems to roll with it. It seems to be part of his lifestyle, which is admittedly not a healthy lifestyle; he’s a professional liar, but there is a sense in which he’s a lot more, I guess, at ease with it.
But he’s hiring hustlers to basically fulfill himself, so that’s certainly not healthy. And he doesn’t seem to be in any kind of healthy relationship, so I think it is pretty amazing to have that snapshot of what it was like to be a gay person in the 1950s. I think it’s really cool.
“American Horror Story: Freak Show” returns January 7 at 10 p.m. on FX.