It's hard to believe, but American Horror Story's Evan Peters is playing a totally normal, not dead guy in his upcoming indie, Adult World (out Friday). Granted, that guy works in a porn shop. But everyone's gotta eat, right? Emma Roberts stars as his unwilling co-worker, a Sylvia Plath obsessive who aspires to be a poet but isn't very talented. We spoke to Peters, who is now dating and rumored to be engaged to Roberts, about trying (and failing) to make her laugh on set; strangling her to death for their second collaboration, AHS: Coven; and inflating a blowup doll that makes sex noises.
You’ve been acting since you were very young, so I’m guessing you never had a job stocking shelves or working at a register.
No, no. I started acting when I was 15, in commercials and guest roles. I was definitely a working actor, so I was thankful for that. But I never had to work at a store, although I would have liked to.
Honestly. I tried to — I wanted to work at Blockbuster.
Well, that ship has sailed. They're all closed.
I know. Shit, I didn’t think about that.
Given that you grew up with the internet, can you even understand why someone would go to a brick-and-mortar porn shop?
Yeah. Since we’re taking about Blockbuster, there’s something that’s really endearing and fun and nice about it: You get out of the house and it’s an adventure. You go pick a movie and maybe even pick out a little candy or popcorn. It’s definitely easier to watch movies online, but it’s taken out some of the adventure and fun of it.
But you're talking about Blockbuster movies. In the case of porn, it seems less convenient, more awkward, to head to the store.
Yeah, I suppose. I don’t know, I guess people who are into that stuff don’t really mind. Maybe that’s part of the adventure as well. Getting out there and being like, Hey, I look at porn.
Also, the store sells more than movies and magazines. There are toys, too. Do you know where the props came from?
I don’t. They were pretty cheap props. Nothing that you’d want to use. Pretty gross stuff. It wasn't second-hand, it was just kind of low-quality. Like it'd been through the ringer by UPS.
I had no idea that there were blowup sex dolls that also made sex noises. Did you know that before doing this movie? [There's a scene where he inflates and tests one with his hand.]
No, I didn’t really know that either. It was pretty interesting playing around with that doll — hilarious, actually. Emma and I were just dying laughing; we were cracking up at the ridiculousness of the doll. Honestly, when you look at the thing in real life, it’s pretty cheap-looking and I don’t know who would want to use that particular doll. It just doesn’t seem like it’s usable, for lack of a better word.
Emma told Chelsea Handler that she had a crush on you while you were shooting the movie, but that you didn’t talk to her —
Well, I had a crush on her, too, and I didn’t really know how to approach her or talk to her or any of that stuff. And at the time I was a more introverted actor, trying to kind of stay into it and stay focused and not talk too much. But, yeah, I tried to talk to her a few times and, I don’t know, I kept saying the wrong thing. I was really kind of awkward and stupid and like, Oh God, this is just not working out well. I’m just going to shut up and not talk.
What were you saying that was so bad?
I would just try to make jokes, you know? But they weren’t going over very well. You know how when you like somebody and then you say things, kind of like a fifth grader? You like the person so you kind of tease them a little bit or you joke around a little bit? Emma didn’t get that I was joking so it just kind of came off all wrong.
Well, something worked.
Yeah. It all worked out. We started hanging out after the movie and I relaxed a little bit and she started getting my sense of humor.
And then you worked together on American Horror Story: Coven. What was more awkward for you guys to shoot: the threesome scene, or you strangling her to death?
[Laughs.] They were both pretty awkward to shoot. The threesome scene was probably the most awkward, just because it was … bizarre. Super weird. But the way we did it was pretty tasteful. It calmed down a little bit from what it was. We just didn’t want to — we wanted it to be tasteful. If that could be tasteful in any way. Because Emma and I are dating and then poor Taissa [Farmiga]’s there and we had to get together and do this thing and it’s weird.
Ryan said in an interview with EW that he was worried about the strangling scene because you and Emma are “madly in love.”
It was like me and Emma were in an acting class, doing a scene. We were both so gung-ho about it and ready to get into it. It was almost kinda fun; we were feeding off each other. On my close-up, she’s like, “Ow, too hard, too hard. You’re getting too into it.” I was like, “Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry, babe. I didn’t mean to.”
How do you rank the AHS seasons so far?
I always like the first one the best. And then the second one was cool because it was completely different from the first one and I was pretty central. It was a lot of work. And very challenging. And then the third one was fun because I got to work with Emma and be in New Orleans for seven months. There was a lot more comedy this year as well, a funnier tone and it was just a little bit lighter.
Ryan’s also said that he’s going to continue with that more comedic tone in the fourth season.
Yeah, yeah. I’m very excited about that.
Does that mean you’re going to be in it?
Oh, I don’t know. I have no idea yet. But I definitely like that they’re continuing on with the lighter side of things.
You're working on other movies now. You have X-Men: Days of Future Past out this year, too. Speaking of, did you read any reactions to your Empire cover [on which his look as Quicksilver was revealed]? It spawned a lot of memes.
No. I didn’t look at any of that. I'll have to check it out.
Okay, so given that you're doing more movie work, for how long would you be prepared to stay on AHS?
I’m ready for every season. I love the show and think it’s a great work environment with great people to work with and very challenging material, so I would like to continue doing it for as long as I can.
Do you think season four is really Jessica Lange's last, as she's said it is?
Usually when she says things she means them, so I would assume that it’s the truth.