Denis O’Hare Q&A: ‘American Horror Story: Coven’
"I have a really weird part for you on 'American Horror Story,' but you're not gonna want to do it," recalled Denis O'Hare during our webcam chat (watch below) as to how showrunner Ryan Murphy initially teased him about his character, Spalding, on last season's creepy "Coven" season. "You're gonna play Jessica Lange's henchman who has no tongue. He doesn't speak. He may speak later, but he doesn't speak for like the first six episodes. And you collect dolls and you serve them tea up in your attic room."
"And I was like, I'm totally in!" declared O'Hare. As for that lack of dialogue, the actor explained, "The thing about being silent all the time is you realize that you stop trying to communicate in words. So you communicate in grand ideas."
O'Hare also revealed that he would remain silent on the set to stay in character. He would communicate using body language and miming to his fellow actors and directors. "Not getting stepped on" was his biggest hurdle. "For the first two months, when I landed on set, I did not speak, so it made it very difficult to kind of just navigate. People would sort of walk into me, they'd walk around me, I was like wallpaper."
The forthcoming season of "AHS" is titled "Freak Show" and O'Hare is rumored to play a collector of freaks who's at odds with Lange's character. "The one thing I'll say about Ryan is that even if he tells us something [about our future characters], it doesn't always come out the same way. So if I told you right now what he told me, it may not make any difference, by the time we get there everything will have changed. I know I'm in it. I know that I don't think I'm going to be misshapen. I don't think I'm going to have any sort of obvious defect, which is new for me."
As for his other series, "True Blood," which ends its seven-season run on HBO this summer, O'Hare shared an anecdote about his fan-favorite character Russell Edgington being mentioned by President Obama during a cabinet meeting. "[Obama] says, 'Did anybody see what Russell did on TV last night?' The idea that the President is watching our show and actually knows a character I play by name is just plain freaky. But you know, they watch TV too."
This busy actor had a small role on HBO's "The Normal Heart" and he hopes to return to "The Good Wife" next season as quirky Judge Abernathy. O'Hare was asked to appear twice last season but he couldn't do it because of a scheduling conflict. "We're trying to figure it out for next year and I hope I can do at least one or two because I love that cast and crew and I'm so sorry Josh Charles is gone."
Reflecting on his Emmy nomination for the first season of "AHS," this Tony champ ("Take Me Out," 2003) admitted, "I assumed I wouldn't win mostly because it's a complicated venue, the Emmys. I'd held out hope here and there that maybe I'll win, but I felt like the dark horse, so I wasn't completely surprised when I didn't win. I made sure that I visited all of the free shopping areas downstairs during the boring bits when they were doing the reality TV shows."