Ryan Murphy Explains Why ‘AHS 1984’ Finale Made Him Cry; Teases ‘AHS’ Season 10 & Beyond, Potential Second ‘9-1-1’ Spinoff & ‘Politician’ Season 2Deadline — Anthony D'Alessandro
EXCLUSIVE: Following the season finale of AHS 1984 tonight we caught up with series co-creator Ryan Murphy to discuss not just what went down in the 9th season climax of American Horror Story, but what he has in store for the series’ future, season 10’s cast, talks for more with FX, as well as his booming universe on Netflix, with launch dates for his upcoming series. You can read our recap of AHS: 1984: Final Girl here.
Was this always the ending you had in mind for AHS 1984, or was their another alternative?
I love that we were creating this American mythology about Camp Redwood that had its own inner life. I knew going into the season that I was very, very interested in working with John Carroll Lynch, who we worked with before, he was Twisty. I wanted to make a leading part or bigger part for him. I knew that I wanted Finn to be his son, and I knew that I wanted a happy ending, ironically. I wanted something that was –this whole season was about two things: Younger and happy ending. So we were writing to those two things all along. John says that when I pitch American Horror Story to him, I don’t know the ending. But I knew that was where we wanted to go to, that very ending. It’s the only American Horror Story ending that has made me cry. Something about that father-son thing always kills me. I’m very nostalgic about Lily Rabe, seeing her in that part. I was really close to her mom, Jill Clayburgh, which is how Lily was introduced into my life. I’m also very close to Finn, and I always wanted to write a beefy, big part for John Carroll Lynch. It was a murderer’s row of talent that I was really close with and loved. Yeah, I loved it.
It’s not the typical 1980s film slasher ending where the protagonist is looking over their shoulder, or waking up from a nightmare in which they dreamt about the killer. It’s a very sweet ending. Slasher films never ended like this.
No, but that’s the thing about American Horror Story that we always try and do, particularly in a season where we’re paying homage to a trope. One of the reasons why American Horror Story exists is because Brad Falchuk and I have so much love for this genre, it’s what we watched growing up. We were obsessed with Halloween and Friday the 13th, so even when we went to talk about the pilot way back in 2008 or 2009, we talked about those movies. We always knew, that one season would be about our love for that. So because I think there’s so much affection behind them, to end on a more upbeat affectionate note just really made sense to me, like not ending on a sad note, or somebody pays, or where the hand comes up through the grave. I liked the idea that there were two women who made it out — Brooke and Donna– and I love the friendship that Emma and Angelica created. I love Leslie Grossman’s character. I’ve been close with her since 1998. I love her character, she’s truly the villain of this season. I love that she was desperate to be the final girl because she watched those movies to. But then Lily Rabe stopped her from being that. It was sort of an affectionate bow we put on the whole thing.
Have you considered diving into the horror sub-genre of Japaneses or South Korean psychological horror? Even from an American’s point of view? Or are there other areas you want to explore in the sub-genre for future AHS seasons?
There’s a couple of areas. Every season by Halloween, I come up with what the winner (theme) is and I already came up with an idea for season 10. There’s always the runner-ups, and I’m like ‘Hmm could this be something?’ We flirted with aliens, we flirted with space, we flirted with some things that were more interesting than others. I think that at the heart of it, it’s always about Americana. It would be hard to do something like that idea you mention, not that I wouldn’t. The fans write in what they want, and they’re very excited about the Coven stuff and the aliens in season 2. They’ve always wanted something in space. It’s always a mysterious process of how I come up with the idea. I really don’t even understand it. I have a list of finalists on a piece of paper and I work on all of them. It’s just where is my life when I’m working on them.
So is season 10 set in space? Or you’re keeping mum?
I’m keeping mum. It would be hard because it’s called American Horror Story and you’d have to stay within the legal soil limits in order to make that work. We’re working on an idea for season 10 that I think people will love because it’s about reuniting fan-favorite actors to come back — because it might be our last season. It’s the last season we have contracted. So, I’ve been quietly reaching out to various people. Some people I haven’t reached out to yet because I was like ‘Do I have a role for them?’ So far, everybody I reached out to said ‘Yes’, so that’s been great.
So, Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters — will they be back?
Too soon to tell, but I’ll just sort of say, the people who helped build this show into what it is, who believed in it from the beginning, have been contacted and are interested. So if you look at the iconography of the first three seasons, you can figure who I’ve gone to and who might be coming back. I’m always surprised, it’s such a hard show to do. Season 9 has been really interesting. It’s the season that has gotten the best reviews. Going into its 10th season, it’s never been more popular. If you look at the worldwide numbers between the FX airing and the live+35 day airing, and you add up the streaming, every year, it grows, and grows and grows and this year that cumulative add has been our most popular season and our most critically hailed. So, it’s always a show that surprises me. I’m surprised that the actors who are in it, love doing it. It’s so hard to make. This season was very hard because it had so many night shoots. But everyone wants to come back and the fans out pour their love for it. It’s No. 1 on Twitter. I’m excited about season 10 like I was excited about this year. I worked really hard on it. It was deeply embedded in my childhood and in Brad’s.
You teased on social a few months the possibility of another season of Scream Queens. Is that a reality going forward?
I don’t know. I would have to say that the answer to that lies in the studio who made it. Obviously I work for Netflix now, but if I could do anything to bring it back. Emma said she would do it, Lea Michelle said she would do it, Jamie Lee Curtis, Abigail Breslin, Billie Lourd are all in. So it would depend if Fox wants to do it. I think we’d all do it. I think we’re waiting for them to call us. I know the show is very popular and had a real spike in popularity on Hulu. That was another one when we were making it; I don’t know if time has caught up to it, or it takes a while for people to get things, but yes, I’d be up for it. The fans should write Fox and say they want this, Fox Studios and the network.
So given how popular AHS is on Netflix, and new fans are finding it, is there a chance it’s going to be exclusive to Hulu or will they share it both?
It does incredibly well on Netflix, which I love and I have a lot of my shows on Netflix that aired on FX. I reap the benefits of both. Look John Landgraf has always been incredibly honorable about American Horror Story and he would obviously like to keep it going, and I’d like to keep it going. We’re in the middle of negotiations about beyond season 10. We have had conversations about the show going 20 seasons. If John for some reason said, ‘We don’t want to make this anymore’, would I call up Netflix? Yes. But he’s only ever expressed love and enthusiasm and he wants to keep it going. We’re both very proud of it. It’s FX’s most highly rated show in the history of the network, it’s had 96 Emmy nominations. I hope, knock wood, will get past 100. It’s one of the most awarded and lauded shows of that network. I have every good intention of it staying there and I think he does too. We’re talking about it. We’re trying to figure it out.
You’ve been great about bringing music stars on AHS in the past like Stevie Nicks and, of course, Gaga. Was there ever any talk to actually have Billy Idol on this season?
No. Because we knew that the festival they were having was not going to happen. This was set in 1989. So with all respect to Billy Idol, we know he would have to play his 1989 self. I will say I was so thrilled when Kajagoogoo, because they were so sweet about it, even though we killed them in our alternate universe, they gave us the rights to “Too Shy” which I love. It was a funny riff on killing the ’80s, but the ’80s will never die. I get a kick out of it because Billy Idol has given us his music and he’s appreciative of the show. The fact is we went out to the music community and never got a ‘No’.
In regards to American Crime Story: Impeachment — is the current impeachment going to have any impact on the storytelling? Also any idea on the air date, because it was reported that it was going to air before the election.
Look when you make a TV show, one of the things you have to do is say we’re going to start shooting at this date, and it will be available at whatever date. That’s something we’ve done for every show that I’ve done. And then the dates move or they stay the same depending on what we’re doing. I think we’re pushing Impeachment a little later in the spring because I’m directing Prom with Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and James Corden. Also Sarah Paulson is taking a couple of months off for her transformation as Linda Tripp, so we’re just starting to get into the conversations about that. So we still don’t know. We have an air date. I know that a lot of people have big opinions about that, about whether when that will air. I can tell you that we’re shooting in the spring. It was February, now it’s late March. And to answer your question about current events, I can honestly say ‘No’. We do a show that is very thoroughly fact-checked and vetted and based on best-selling book by Jeffrey Toobin. I think the reason why it’s interesting is because you don’t have to change anything to feel modern. And I think that idea of impeachment obviously with Trump is fascinating. I wouldn’t say that we’re changing things that much or mentioning Trump at all in our narrative.
When can we expect Ratched?
My Hollywood show which is a limited series, that is coming out on May 1 (on Netflix). Ratched is coming out in September, it’s a big fall show. It’s a feminist psychological horror show. We’ve been done with that for a while. It’s the performance of Sarah Paulson’s life.
And can you give us an update on Politician season 2?
We’re shooting the second season. Netflix believes and really loves you. We’re going to put it out early. Most times you have to wait a year for a show. The Politician just premiered in September, and what we’re doing with the second season which is Ben Platt, Judith Light and Bette Midler is so juicy and fun and topical. I think we’re trying to get that out for July. So it’s shooting right now and Brad Falchuk is directing the first episode in New York.
And you have the 911 spinoff…
911 is this unexpected juggernaut. Tim Minear, and Brad Falchuk and I created it. Tim Minear has done a brilliant job running it. It’s become this unexpected hit. It’s become Fox’s biggest scripted show. They love it. We’re doing the spinoff Lone Star with Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler. That comes out in January and we’re talking about doing a third one. If you look at the live 35 ratings of that show, it’s insane. It’s millions and millions of people and it’s far surpassed anything we could have hoped for. It’s just a big fat commercial broadcast hit and it’s hard to have those in this day and age. But, thanks to Tim, Angela Bassett, Peter Krause, Oliver Stark and Aisha Hinds, I think it’s become something great. And what I love is that it’s about something, it’s not just broadcast television. It tackles social issues, it’s great.
Is Feud completely dormant? I know you had kicked around the Prince Charles and Diane storyline. Is that still in development?
I’m not working on any of that right now. My deal is with Netflix. That’s not to say that years down the line that I couldn’t’ redo it or renew if I had a great idea. I think everyone is open to that but I’m working on so many other things.
Do you think we’ll ever get to see American Crime Story: Katrina? Or is that still very dormant?
I don’t. We worked on that for like a year. The great thing about American Crime Story is that we only do it if it’s great. And the reason why Impeachment happened is because a great writer, Sarah Burgess, knocked the first script out of the park. That one [Katrina] was a difficult story to crack and it was very complex. Never say never, but I think we’ve all moved on from that. We have four or five things in development for American Crime Story, but that is not one of them.