'American Horror Story' co-creator Ryan Murphy talks premiere, his favorite scene, and identity of Rubber Man -- EXCLUSIVE

SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED AMERICAN HORROR STORY!

By now many of you watched the first episode of FX’s new shock-a-palooza and have many questions. (Be sure to check out my colleague Jeff Jensen’s recap.) Who is Rubber Man? What the hell is in that basement? How fabulous is Jessica Lange? Thankfully, co-creator Ryan Murphy, who conceived the show alongside Brad Falchuk, talked to EW exclusively about the wild first hour and what’s in store for next week’s episode. 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is the complete opposite of Glee. Did you and Brad want to do something more akin to Nip/Tuck?
RYAN MURPHY: Well, we were working on this before Glee. I can only speak about me but I like to do the opposite of what I’ve just done. So we’re doing some squeaky clean, sweet, optimistic, non-cynical piece, I wanted to do something that sorta tapped into the different side of my personality. I’ve always obviously been drawn to darker things. But this is really about our love for horror particularly which we felt as children and references from our pop culture youth. But more than that, I like to create stuff just because I’m interested, like, “I wanna watch a show about this.” There was a shortage of creature-baby-in-the-basement-shows on TV [laughs]. I wanted to see it!

You directed the pilot. Do you have a favorite moment or sequence?
My favorite sequence is we call it, “When the infantata attacks.” I loved [the moment when Violet’s bully is attacked in the basement] for several reasons. I loved the design of that creature. I love the influence on it. When we designed it, it was sort of a pastiche of different ideas. The mouth of it, which you see for two brief milliseconds, is based on a leech mouth, a picture of a leech mouth I found. I have a lot of reference books. There was a picture I was obsessed with of a child with progeria which is that aging quickly [disorder]. The gown our costume designer Lou and I worked on really closely is sorta closely modeled on the Lindbergh baby.

The idea for it was one of the scariest things I ever saw: Diane Keaton getting killed in Looking for Mr. Goodbar because the killing was done in strobe. There was a little bit of that in the water. It was written as a straight scene. Again, the whole show is about me and the writers sitting in a room and talking about the times we have been scared. That was a time I was really really scared, to the point where I didn’t sleep for a week and my parents wouldn’t let me go to the movies for a month. I just remember being scared about that because it’s the millisecond of blackness where you’re like, “What happens?” That’s my favorite in terms of the production. I mean, I love the acting. I love the Connie and Dylan fight. I love the Jessica “Don’t Make Me Kill You Again” line.

Will there be a pay-off to that line?
Oh yeah! It’s the whole third episode. We find out why she killed her.

I’m guessing people will mostly be talking about Rubber Man. Is that supposed to be a real man?
Oh, I can’t say that. And I have taken a poll even among the crew: Who Do You Think Rubber Man Is? And no one got it right. I was shocked because I think it’s so obvious. Who do you think it is?

I think it’s the doctor who previously lived in the house.
Hmmm, interesting. I actually know a lot of people who are going as Rubber Man for Halloween so it’s very exciting. One of the goals too is I love all those monsters like Jason and Freddy Krueger. To create a creature…well, I guess we did it because people have gone as Sue Sylvester for Halloween. But I would love for a couple to go as Sue and Rubber Man. That’s my dream.

Based on the first episode, it seems like Vivian (Connie Britton) is pregnant with Rubber Man’s baby.
Yes, it does seem that way. You very quickly find out that not all is well with this pregnancy and who you think is the father is not.

My colleague, Jeff Jensen, thought that the show’s title font might be an homage to The Haunting of Hill House. Is that true?
That is a coincidence. I used to be an editor of the school paper in high school and college and I’ve always been obsessed with typography, which is another weird obsession. I have 25 different books about different type faces from all over the world. Whenever I do a show, I like to flip through the books and see which one talks to me. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. But this jumped out at me. It very much looks to me like a 1920s house.

What’s up with the two different versions of Moira, the maid?
That is definitely something that they would have and should have done on Dark Shadows but they didn’t — to have two actresses play one character. It’s really fun for our actresses because they do the character in very different ways: one is definitely the bad ego — the bad id — and one is the good.

Tease next week’s episode “Home Invasion,” in which the Harmon house is preyed upon by intruders.
Next week’s episode came about because in the writer’s room we talk about, What are our fears? And all of us have that one. I’m really scared about someone breaking into my house. It’s about what would you do if you moved into a place, somebody broke in, and you survived? Would you look at your house as a place of survival or a place of hauntedness? What would you do — would you get out or would you stay? It was also loosely based on the Richard Speck murders.

Have a question about American Horror Story you want Ryan Murphy to answer? Post your queries in the comments section and we’ll select the best ones to ask.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @EWTimStack

Comments (139 total) Add your comment
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  • joesmom

    Just finished watching. This show is seriously messed up. *LOL* Can’t wait for next week!

    • coco

      Definitely a WTF show. Will have to watch again to decide if it’s WTF good or WTF bad.BTW,I wanna share a good news to you.My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a millionaire man who is a businessman!they met via Millionaireloving.C óM ..it is the largest and best club for rich people and their admirers to chat online. …You do not have to be rich or famous. ,but you can meet one , It’s worthy a try,Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends!

  • Rae

    I LOVED the fight in the kitchen! Connie killed it in that scene.

    • Kris

      That was my favourite scene too. They were both marvelous in it but Connie was particularly impressive. When is this girl getting her Emmy?

    • Squishmar

      I’d never watched “Friday Night Lights” and was not familiar with Connie Britton’s work. I just knew EW loved her and was always singing her praises. Wow. She is amazing. Great actress and very sexy. I thought the acting overall was very, very good. You kind of need that in a show that’s so out there to ground it in reality. It makes the stuff that happens that much scarier and strange.

  • tvaddict

    Loved it! It was freaky, kinky, and exciting. Cannot wait for next week!

  • nitemar

    Those first scenes with the girl and the two boys plus the music very good intro. The basement scene too intense. Mom is pregnant, rubber baby? Please dont make this a Rosemary’s Baby!

  • Wilburt

    Meh.

  • mo

    Very messed up, nightmare inducing parts for sure…especially the basement scene. I’m already addicted, scared sh*tless but definently coming back for more…

    • collins

      my best friend’s mom makes $77 an hour on the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month her check was $7487 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read about it here MakeCash3.com

  • Heth

    Question for Ryan Murphy: It makes me think of “Burnt Offerings”. The scene with the old car chasing him-reminded of that scary chauffer driver in the movie. Also, the idea of the house repairing itself/possessing the inhabitants. Was that film one of the childhood influences? Loved the premier episode! Shocking and terrifying-cannot believe it’s on TV. Loved Popular and Nip/Tuck-so excited for this show!

    • Lloyd

      Thought the same thing. Burnt Offerings.

    • Sal Serio

      WOW!!! That scene conjured up thoughts of that movie for me too. What is funny is that for the longest time neither me or my brother could remember the name of that movie even though my brother used to torment me with it (by smiling with the creepy chaufer grin). He happened to catch it on TV a year or so ago and told me the name and it is now a part of my movie collection. I think his tormenting me with that movie is why I am not really affected that much by horror movies much these days. Anyway, When I saw that scene, I instantly thought of that chaufer.

  • jordan

    I don’t know who you people are but this was trash. It wasn’t scary at all. Not one scene was slightly scary. And the episode was just all over the place. One random thing after another. Extremely poorly done. Based on this episode, I have no idea how you can think this was good.

    • untapttalent

      @jordan…i admit there were some random seeming sequences but that’s why you have to watch the season…i’m sure there will be a pay off…but you are just wrong about it being poorly done…it’s done very well, in a very old school horror film way…not the slasher film way that we’re used to now a days. if you’re not a fan of good, old horror you wouldn’t like it but that doesn’t mean it’s not well done.

    • Big Walt

      I thought it was scary but I also thought it was very cliche and ripped off way too much stuff. It’s hard to be original, especially in horror, but it would be nice to see.

      • Krys

        I don’t think it was ripping off it was playing on those fears like the interview said.

    • stickittotheman

      Trashing (without any kind of evidence) + insults = TROLL.

    • Westie

      So don’t watch it and try not to be so judgmental.

    • Daniel Gonzales

      If you aren’t a horror fan, you probably won’t like this show. If you are, you would appreciate it in a world of garbage. You can seriously tell me that this show isn’t better than 99% of what Hollywood has released and called “horror” in the last five years. It had all the right elements and taboos in place. I guess you just want to see some guy in a ski mask chasing teenagers through the woods, go watch your old Friday the 13th dvds.

      • Chasity

        Exactly! It should also be taken into consideration that you almost have to be on a certain intelligence level to “Understand” this show, and well…Some just aren’t.

    • dbeaty

      why would you waste your time trolling comments for a show you hated?

    • Sherry

      What were you watching??? Very cool story line, Lots of info into the past residents, their tragic stories and endings. I love this kind of entertainment…guessing what this character has to do with that one…Love It!!!

  • Lulu

    Just watched and one word sums it up… Bizarre! I found myself bored with the story line at first but the visuals and music kept my attention. I started to get interested in the story at the end which I’m sure is what the creators were hoping for because it grabs you and leaves you waiting for more. What I can say about it is… I can’t wait to see where the writers take us on this freaky journey into darkness! It’s original and visually stimulating, something that has been missing from tv until now. The modern day twin peaks is what comes to mind if you just need to compare it to something.

  • Al

    Definitely a WTF show. Will have to watch again to decide if it’s WTF good or WTF bad.

  • waya

    As a professional horror fan, I didn’t find it so scary. It was more bizarre. Even though a lot didn’t make sense, I’m sure the writers intend to tie things together later on (hopefully). Loved all of it though, the dual maid, thing in the basement, rubberman, retarded girl, but the real highlight was Jessica Lange. “Don’t make me kill you again.” Can’t wait for next week!

    • Petunia

      You get PAID to be a horror fan?!? Where do I apply to do that?

      • Westie

        Petunia you are very sarcastic…I like that!

    • Brenda

      I loved the dual maids. That fact that she presents herself one way to the women, to earn their trust. And another way to the father, to turn him on, was very clever. The show is over the top, campy fun. I can’t wait for next week!

    • kimmie

      She’s not retarded. It’s called Down’s Syndrome

      • Solange

        Sorry, but people with Down’s Syndrome are mentally limited. A rose by any other name. You’ll never get one in the White House.

  • LJ

    Ok, so I am seriously freaked out right now! Why did I watch that when I’m home alone?!? That was one of the creepiest shows I’ve ever seen, yet how hot are Dylan McDermot and Connie Britton? Anyway, some of that story line hit too close to home for me. (Not the murderin’ part of course! LOL!) But I’ll probably keep watching. BTW – I think Rubber Man is Burned Face Larry.

    • lmbrennan

      It cant be burnt faced larry, rubber man has two brown eyes, larry had one dead white eye. Cant be, unless they blunder. My guess is its a sexually repressed ghost of the house, to be fleshed out in later episodes.

    • Sarah

      I think Rubberman is the boy seeing Dylan McDermott’s character for psychological help since he was talking about his penis and it was after he caught him talking to Dylan’s daughter. It could have been an act of revenge.

      • Big Walt

        I think it’s Dylan. It seemed to me that he was standing at the stove after they were in bed together. If it’s obvious as Ryan says, it has to be Dylan or the boy, there weren’t any other male characters introduced yet.

      • Squishmar

        Yes, but like Imbrennan pointed out, Rubberman had brown eyes and Ben (Dylan McDermott) has blue eyes. I’m not entirely sure the sex scene was actually happening. I think it was akin to his Ben’s dream state at the stove. And both Ben and Vivien were pretty dazed afterward…. I think they were both kind of sleep walking/f**king (respectively). I also am not sure Vivien is really pregnant. We don’t know exactly how much time went by, but it seemed awfully fast to know you’re pregnant, since it had to have been from that one time we saw with Ben (or subsequently).

  • Brandy

    How long have they been in the house? It seemed like she found our she was pregnant a day later.

    • Squishmar

      I just said that before reading your post. Yeah, it’s possible that time elapsed but they sure didn’t make that clear… on purpose?

  • Petra

    Wasn’t scary,but it was weird and fun though,I’ll definitely watch next week. I also love Jessica Lange,one of my favorite actresses.

    • Daniel Gonzales

      yes it was scary and you are an idiot for saying it wasn’t because the point is not to knock your panties off but to titillate you like the hooker you are.

  • Denise

    I didn’t find it very scary either. Just weird. The burn faced man’s story reminded me of a rip-off of The Shining. I think that’s where this is going. Stephen King – watch out!!!

    • jennrae

      I hate to say this of Francis Conroy, but Moira also reminded me of The Shining, as in the woman in the bathtub? Not that Conroy is gross, but the imagery of beautiful dead woman/older dead woman making moves on the man of the house?

      • Solange

        I am Frances Conroy’s age. Please! The ancient woman in The Shining tub was like 85 years old [thirty years older than we are] and covered with huge chancres.

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