Just one episode into the new season of American Horror Story, Evan Peters found himself facing aliens, getting hosed down in the nude, and being caned by Jessica Lange. He of course knew to expect the unexpected, having had to lube up to wear a gimp suit for the first edition of Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology. But he’s traded in the rubber for a similarly constricting straitjacket to play Kit Walker, an inmate at an insane asylum who is suspected of being a serial killer known as Bloody Face. Vulture talked to Peters about his fans, the inspiration for his Boston accent, and that one time he exposed the cast and crew to his balls.
All the returning actors are playing the opposite of their season-one characters this year. Since Tate was a homicidal teenage ghost, does this mean Kit is just misunderstood?
He’s definitely misunderstood. I don’t know, though. He doesn’t seem to know if he’s crazy himself, but he’s not insane. He’s not a psychopath.
Are you presuming that, or do you know for sure?
Do you think the fangirls who crushed on Tate will also like Kit?
It was pretty cool that they liked Tate, and they seem to like Kit, too, which is good. Yeah, I checked out Tumblr. [Laughs.] I like the ones who throw back to Sleepover. They’re like, “Yeah, I knew Evan way back when … ” [Laughs.] I saw this one GIF of me with a bra in my hands from the movie. It’s fun. I mean, I was curious, because they liked Tate so much, and I thought, Fuck, are they gonna like Kit? There’s a lot of my butt up there this year, which I was a little nervous about.
Right from the start, too.
I was horrified.
Do you get any warning about having to disrobe before you get the script?
No, you pretty much get the script and find out that way. It’s a lot of butt. I got scared. Unless I’m around certain people, I don’t like to be naked. [Laughs.] I have a great picture of me naked on a bed just wearing a cock sock, and the crew is all around me, bored. We were all waiting for a film roll or a lens to arrive. So I’m just sitting around naked on the bed and everyone’s so nonchalant. It was really weird for me, like, Man, this is awkward.
Now you know how Dylan McDermott must have felt all of last year.
Yeah. He’s smart though. He had them bring him a gym on set. They hooked him up with a bench-press machine and all these free weights so he could work out in between takes. That dude was naked the whole time. I’d like to [ask for] that, but I’m not Dylan McDermott, so I can’t be like, Give me a bunch of free weights, you know?
What was it like having Jessica Lange whip your bare bottom?
That was literally the first day of shooting. It’s embarrassing that I’m telling you this, but why not? I had to wear a cock sock, right? And since I was wearing a hospital gown, I thought, Well, my front’s not going to be showing. It’s not a big deal. And when they bent me over [laughs], they could see my balls hanging down from the other side. The first day of shooting, and I flash Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson my balls. Welcome to American Horror Story. It was ridiculous. I have to put on a cock sock and sheath my balls.
So you got really comfortable really quickly then.
Once someone’s seen your balls, it’s over. It’s fine. Everything’s good. They didn’t even say anything. Sarah just walked over after that take and kissed me on the cheek. I was like, Why? What’s happening? That’s when I realized. I was mortified.
Tell me about doing the Boston accent. Did you have to study?
Well, I’m a huge fan of [affects accent] The De-PAH-ted, so I watched that movie a lot, and Good Will Hunting — all those movies. And I worked with a dialect coach, and they help you perfect it. I was initially stressed out, but a lot of the dialect coaches say I’m okay at it. You know, it’s not perfect. I’m not from Boston. It works, I think.
What are you filming today?
What am I working on? Um, I don’t think I can say anything — I’m scared anything because I don’t want to get fired.
Can we talk about the aliens then?
They’re creepy! They have puppeteers. It’s a full-on big thing, like it’s really there in the room with me. It’s funny. I read Fire in the Sky, which is supposedly true. This guy says he’s abducted by aliens and all this stuff happened to him. Just thinking about that, if that were to really happen, if an alien were to come down and really abduct you, how terrifying and how earth-shattering would that be? Your whole world is just destroyed. God is destroyed. It’s kind of a fascinating thing to think about.
So are you a believer now?
I don’t know. I’m so agnostic about everything. I just don’t think there’s enough information.
Do you have any theories about whether or not Kit is imagining everything?
You’re going to have to watch to find out. I believe that the aliens are really there though. Yeah, definitely they are.
Last season, you said you weren’t really into horror but that you were trying to get into it. What’s the scariest thing you’ve forced yourself to watch since then?
There’s a couple of movies I want to see. There’s [Mama], and actually when I saw the preview for that one, I screamed. Sinister looks good. Last night, I was watching Friday the 13th because AMC was airing a creepy-movie marathon. I think it was Friday the 13th 7 or something. That stuff used to really scare me. Jason was the scariest when I was a kid. When I’d spend the night at a friend’s house and we’d watch these movies, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Now I see how they make it, and it looks like it was probably so much fun to do those movies.
You’re playing opposite quite a few seasoned actors this year. Have you learned anything specific from watching them work?
Sarah really cares a lot about the work, but she maintains such a good sense of humor throughout the whole thing. How she can jump in and out of the seriousness, that amazes me. That’s something I look up to. I have a hard time [snapping out of] a tense scene.
What’s been the most difficult thing you’ve had to do this season?
Being strapped down has proved to be a problem for me. For some reason, as soon as the straps come out, I start to get really panicky. What if there’s an earthquake? What if something insane happens and we need to get out immediately? It takes them a good two minutes to get me unlocked. So it’s like, Shit, I could die, I could be dead any minute, and I start to panic and freak out. I’ve had to learn to take a deep breath, like, Okay, chill out buddy.