Sarah Paulson (‘American Horror Story: Cult’) talks ‘scary, close to home’ fears of Season 7 [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“Part of the horror and the scary parts of it was how close to home it was,” says Sarah Paulson about “American Horror Story: Cult.” Season 7 of FX’s anthology series was more grounded in reality than any of the other installments, which Paulson confesses was by design. “There was a very serious effort made even from a design standpoint to make the rooms of the house smaller, to make everything feel a little bit more ordinary.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Paulson above.

Paulson portrays Ally Mayfair-Richards (“I like the hyphen!” she laughs) in the show’s seventh season, a wife and mother whose phobias and anxieties return after Donald Trump wins the 2016 presidential election. Throughout the course of “AHS: Cult” Ally joins a murderous cult that’s led by the devilish Kai Anderson (a career-best Evan Peters), and then eventually claims her power back when she runs for government office.

“It’s not untrue” that Ally and Paulson share similar phobias, such as holes and hollow spaces and bees. “I always worry somehow that the idea that they’re my phobias makes it easier to perform, in a way. And it’s actually the reverse is true.” However, she adds that John Carroll Lynch‘s iconic clown Twisty doesn’t bother her. “Clowns don’t scare me. I don’t know if there’s been some rumor around that I’m afraid of clowns. I don’t like them. I think they’re creepy as hell. But I’m not frightened of them.”

As for the final twist (spoiler alert!) of having Ally become a leader of her own cult, Paulson reveals, “It was a big conversation that Ryan Murphy and Tim Minear and we all had toward the end of the season. How interesting would it be to have a person who had been victimized terribly and horribly at the hands of this cult leader … to have some kind of mirror of becoming what you’re most resisting? And [we left] it a bit murky so the audience could pull from it what they wanted.”

Also in our interview Paulson talks about the success of her box office hit “Ocean’s 8” and teases what she can about the upcoming “American Horror Story” Season 8, due out later this year. Paulson won an Emmy Award in 2016 for portraying Marcia Clark in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” She also received four Emmy nominations for “AHS” (“Asylum,” “Coven,” “Freak Show,” “Hotel”) in addition to her bid for “Game Change” (2012).

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on July 12. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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