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Interview: Denis O'Hare discusses AMERICAN HORROR STORY

It seems that no matter who you ask, Denis O’Hare’s name is synonymous with scintillating, brilliant performances across a wide spectrum of artistic mediums. He is excitedly mentioned amongst theatregoers, Broadway musical afficionados, cineastes, and, of course, TV binge watchers. After casually mentioning online that we had an upcoming interview with the actor and passionate activist, we were inundated with a myriad of questions and comments from people all across the world. Luckily for Toronto fans, he’ll be appearing for four days at the upcoming Fan Expo Canada happening at the Metro Convention Centre in order to promote his work on five seasons of the hit television anthology program American Horror Story. 

In honor of O’Hare’s attendance at the annual convention, it was only fitting to collaborate on our phone interview with his enthusiastic fans. The following are the conversation highlights.


Scene Creek: Good afternoon! We hope you don’t mind, but in honor of Fan Expo we’ve decided to ask you some questions directly from your American Horror Story fans.

Denis O’Hare: That’s fantastic. I like that idea! I’m so blessed to have such passionate fans and I’m incredibly thankful for each and every one of them. Ask away.

SC: Perfect! So from all of the past seasons and all the characters encompassed in those seasons, which one did you wish you could play?

DO: Only my own.  I mean I had just the best characters and I wouldn’t wish for anything else.

SC: Of the characters you’ve portrayed thus far on the show (Larry, Spalding, Stanley, Liz), which one was your favorite? 

DO: Oh I can’t do that! That would be like choosing amongst your children which one is your favorite. I loved Larry and wished we had more time to know him a bit better, and I loved how energetic Spalding was. I suppose if I had to choose it would be Liz. Yes, definitely Liz was my favorite.

SC: When do you believe was Liz’s defining moment last season?

DO: I don’t think there was one…there were several actually. The episode with her backstory where we discovered who Liz really was-that was a foundational moment for her. The episode where she really falls in love with Tristan-I mean that was such an incredible and powerful moment. Then in episode ten when she reunites with her son Douglas and she comes full circle as a parent and you learn how hugely important family is to her.

SC: You’ve had such a rich well of co-stars on the show over the years. Who has surprised you the most in terms of your personal expectations of them versus the reality? 

DO: I’m not really sure how to answer that, to be honest. People think that Angela Bassett is very fierce and brash because of the characters she portrays but she’s actually very warm and an exceptional person. I hadn’t worked with Wes Bentley before but he’s surprisingly very funny and I had the best time working with him. I also loved working with Kathy (Bates).

SC: We’re drawing on a handful of fan submitted questions, but who are you a huge fan of that perhaps people wouldn’t be aware of? 

DO: Hmm, do you know the film Jesus of Montreal? The lead actor in that film is an extraordinary actor named Lothaire Bluteau. I’m such an admirer of his work. I saw him recently on a walk on the streets of New York and I stopped and tried to summon up the courage to talk to him and tell him how much I respect him. I must have stopped for a long time there but I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to him. I’m also blown away by the kids on Stranger Things. Those young actors have such admirable confidence that unfortunately gets shaken out of you as you grow older. I’m also a big fan of Mr. Robot and Rami Malek’s intensely watchable work on it. Same with Riz Ahmed on The Night Of. My friend John Turturro is on that show and is also excellent on it.

SC: In online communities you’re also admired for your activism and charity work. Can you talk a little about that? 

DO: Well recently there was an auction on eBay of original fan artwork of Liz. Then my family hold a run every year in honor of my Mother, called the Karene O’Hare Ovarian Cancer Memorial Run. She died of cancer in 2008 and we try to raise money for ovarian cancer because it’s unfortunately a disease where the symptoms aren’t easily perceptible. My Mom was misdiagnosed many times and perhaps she would still be with us now if more was known about detecting the disease at any earlier stage. I also work with a fantastic organization called Covenant House that helps homeless youth feel safe. They offer therapy, assist the kids with finishing high school, and really helping them get on their feet when they’re otherwise in dire straits. In addition I’m an activist for gun control laws. You’re fine up in Canada but in the U.S. we have the 2nd amendment that lets people get as many guns as they want. I’m pushing for the sensible regulation of weapons.

SC: And finally, we received a high volume of fan questions asking about details for the upcoming season of American Horror Story. Can you tell us anything about the theme or your character? 

DO: I can say nothing. Anything I would divulge would be very dangerous for me. For the fans I will say that I went from shaving every day to not shaving at all. My character is very hairy. That’s all I can say.


Denis O’Hare will be appearing from September 1st to 4th at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto. For more details please visit http://fanexpocanada.com/guests/denis-ohare/

Leora Heilbronn

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto based film aficionado who has a weakness for musicals and violent action flicks. She can often be spotted reading a wide range of literature or listening to show tunes.