American Horror Story is officially 10 years old with over 100 episodes in its roster. No surprise, then, that it has plenty of interesting tales and facts behind its stories.
From acting roles that nearly never happened, to the gruesome real-life backstories of some of the characters, we’ve collected some of the most bizarre facts from the franchise.
Some of these American Horror Story facts are probably not known by even the most ardent of fans. So, feel free to browse this fun list of trivia to enhance your AHS knowledge and learn a thing or two about its history.
1. Sarah Paulson’s Real Phobias Were Used in ‘Cult’
Ryan Murphy used Sarah Paulson’s real-life phobias in Cult to create genuine fear. This included scenes featuring heights, bees, and clowns. Apparently, the reasoning behind this was to create a more realistic environment. With that said, perhaps Paulson wasn’t always acting at this point, maybe she was genuinely scared, and rightly so.
2. ‘AHS’ and ‘Glee’ Have a Connection
These shows may be poles apart, but believe it or not, they’re connected in a weird and surprising way. Ryan Murphy, the creator and writer of AHS is also the genius behind popular TV show, Glee.
For Interview Magazine, Murphy said, “American Horror Story came about because I was like, ‘I can’t write any more nice speeches for these Glee kids about love and tolerance and togetherness. I’ll kill myself.’ So then I was like, ‘I’m going to write a show about a*** sex and mass murders.’”
With one based on nightmarish tropes, and the other being a happy-go-lucky musical extravaganza, this is all the proof we need that Murphy is an incredibly talented writer and director.
3. Bette and Dot’s Scenes Took Ages to Film
In Freak Show, the two-headed characters, Bette and Dot’s scenes, took 10-15 hours to shoot. The conjoined twins were played by Sarah Paulson who wore a prosthetic, attached head. This was combined with some digital editing after shooting each scene to duplicate the face of Paulson onto the second head. Goes to show the massive attention to detail that goes into the show, right?
4. Chris Zylka Nearly Starred in ‘Asylum’
In the second season, Asylum, actor Chris Zylka was meant to play a deaf character at Briarcliff hospital. However, he was dismissed from the show after he reportedly refused to shave his head for the role. After this, his entire character was removed from the series. Although AHS is incredibly successful, it still would have been interesting to see the dynamic with the addition of a different character.
5. Edward Mordrake was Based on a Real Person
Remember Mordrake from Freak Show? You know, the guy with a face on the back of his head that moved and talked? Well, he wasn’t the creation of writers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk – Edward Mordrake’s character was based on a real person…kind of. The urban legend of Edward Mordrake has been around for hundreds of years and was based on a man of the same name, who supposedly had a creepy face on the back of his head. Believable? You decide.
6. Hotel Has a Real-Life Backstory
Hotel was roughly based on two real life murder hotels. In the 1880s, H.H Holmes built a hotel from scratch which was designed to kill the guests. Here, he was said to have killed over 200 victims during his reign, before he eventually being caught by police. Like the AHS adaptation, the original hotel had secret corridors and rooms, as well as the maze-like features that were used to trap the hotel’s residents. Holmes may also have been the inspiration for character, James March.
Ryan Murphy also drew inspiration from the famous Hotel Cecil which ran from 1924-2017. Here, many mysterious deaths have taken place, including the infamous one of Elisa Lam’s, whose story has been publicized in a Netflix documentary.
7. Evan Peters’ Gimp Suit Kept Ripping
Remember ‘Rubber Man’ who dressed in an all black suit from season one? Apparently, this suit was so incredibly tight for Peters, that he had to be covered in lubricant to fit into it. Because of the tightness, it also ripped various times on set and new ones had to be brought in. At least that brings some humor to the frightening character!
8. ‘1984’ Was Purposely Filmed With an 80s Look
1984 certainly had a very retro feel to it. This was a homage to the 80’s slasher genre and featured outfits and a lot of props from the decade. It also used a lot of synths throughout the soundtrack which also created a distinct 80’s feel. However, interestingly, it was also shot in a VHS-style, blurry 80’s style too. This was the first time in the series that AHS was shot in such a unique format.
9. The Entire Series is Connected
Although each series is unique and set within its own universe, according to writers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, every season is connected. This can be seen at times throughout each series – for instance, Pepper is featured in both Asylum and Freak Show, while The Murder House appears again in Hotel. Although these are obvious examples, there are more subtle instances with character and story crossovers which you can read about in our list of American Horror Story connections.
10. Delphine LaLaurie was Based on a Real Person
Here’s a weird fact to send shivers down your spine! Kathy Bates’ character Delphine LaLaurie from Coven was literally based on a woman of the same name. Back in the slave era of New Orleans, LaLaurie would torture and kill her slaves. Although her portrayal in AHS may have seemed cruel and gruesome, this literally happened in real life. After locals found out she abused slaves in her cellar, they burned her house down. Unfortunately, for those looking for vengeance, she and her family fled to France.
11. Lady Gaga Wasn’t Originally Meant for ‘Hotel’
Lady Gaga was not originally meant to star in the fifth series of AHS. As a huge fan of the show, she previously contacted creator Ryan Murphy about any available roles. As it happened, her acting and character as a vampiress were later critically acclaimed and well-received by viewers. Turns out, Hotel would have been completely different, had Gaga not originally reached out to Murphy!
12. Ryan Murphy is Sarah Paulson’s ‘Creative Husband’
Sarah Paulson is arguably AHS’ most iconic actor who has been an awesome regular throughout the show. Apparently, she first met Ryan Murphy way back in 2004. At this point, her acting career was far less celebrated than it is today, however, she must have made a lasting impression, as she went on to play the most iconic roles throughout most of Murphy’s series! She even calls him her “creative husband” and dubs their relationship “the creative marriage of my life”.
13. Twisty Gave Clowns a Bad Reputation
…so the Clowns of America International says. That’s right! Members of this group complained after watching Twisty the Clown on Freak Show, saying that he encouraged “clown fear”. The president of Clowns of America International told The Hollywood Reporter, “We do not support in any way, shape or form any medium that sensationalizes or adds to coulrophobia or ‘clown fear.'”
14. Ben Woolf Was Also a Preschool Teacher
Other than being a part-time actor, Ben Woolf’s full-time job was being a preschool teacher. He had previously starred in the horror movie Insidious in an uncredited role, however, he was best known for his character Meep in Freak Show. Arguably, this was the peak of his career, but in a sad turn of real-life events, he also died in the same year that Freak Show was released. After being hit by a car’s rear view mirror, the late Ben Woolf died from a stroke.
15. Sarah Paulson Went on to Direct an Episode
Due to the success of her involvement in AHS, Sarah Paulson was allowed to direct an episode for Apocalypse. And it was a significant episode at that, too – Paulson stepped behind the camera for Return to Murder House – the ultimate episode which featured throwbacks to infamous characters. This marked the first time an AHS actor had directed the show. Unsurprisingly, her episode featured the likes of acting royalties, Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange. Can she direct a few more episodes? Please, Ryan Murphy?
16. The Coven Mansion Can be Hired
Fun fact? The Coven mansion can be rented for personal use! The stunning building is located in Louisiana, but there is a catch. No, it’s not haunted, but it costs $5,000 per night. In fairness, it has plenty of square footage, three stories and a lot of history. For superfans of the show, this could be an expensive gift.
17. ‘Name Game’ Wasn’t Originally Part of the Script
Jessica Lange’s iconic Name Game song from Asylum wasn’t in the original script, but rather, her own idea! Her inspiration for the song was to lighten the mood, as the series was so dark and depressing at times. Looking back, this was a key moment in the series and definitely one of its most memorable moments. Simply put, Asylum wouldn’t have been as successful without the cheery musical number which was in stark contrast to the typical, dark themes of the show.
18. Lady Gaga Had a Room Dedicated to Outfits
You can’t put anything ‘weird’ past Lady Gaga. Whilst filming Hotel, the famous star had an entire room dedicated to her intricate costumes. These were designed by Lou Eyrich who worked alongside Gaga in creating her wardrobe. These included Gucci pieces and also clothes from Gaga’s personal collection. It’s no wonder that her vampiress looked so stylish on the show!
19. Zachary Quinto Played the Banjo to Lift Spirits
As Asylum was so bleak, actor Zachary Quinto raised spirits in between scenes by playing the banjo. Apparently, he genuinely loved playing the instrument, and it was greatly appreciated by his colleagues. Like Name Game, this sounds like some much needed light-hearted fun as the Asylum story was indeed so dark.
20. The ‘Murder House’ Music Was Used in Horror Movies
Murder House used songs from various horror movie soundtracks. These included the likes of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, What Lies Beneath, and Insidious. This isn’t too uncommon in films, as it’s an easy way for directors to quickly pick suspenseful music. Director Quintin Tarantino has often used this strategy when making his movies.
There you have it – 20 creepy yet cool facts about American Horror Story. It may be a fictional show at face value, but as proven by this list, there’s a lot more truth and super-cool trivia from behind-the-scenes.
So, which trivia did you find most interesting? Let us know in the comments below!