Sarah Paulson, who plays Lana Winters on the second season of American Horror Story, is telling fans what scares her most about Briarcliff.
On paper, Lana was committed to the asylum for being a homosexual. Really though, Sister Jude didn’t want the public to know what was going on inside the walls of Briarcliff which is just what Lana was threatening to do. Now the reporter is trapped in the asylum of horrors and Sarah Paulson teases to the Huffington Post, “It’s so only just begun. What happens in the first few episodes is like eating a bowl of ice cream compared to what happens to her.”
When Paulson signed up for the second season, she had no idea what she was getting herself into. First, she agreed to come on again. Then Ryan Murphy gave her the scrips for the first four episodes. Still, Paulson says she loved her character and says that she feels a level of responsibility playing the sane character. She explains, “I like the idea of playing the sane woman in the crazy house. I think that’s exciting to do.”
Paulson believes that part of what makes this season so horrific is how much the time period has to do with what is happening to the characters. Fans saw that both Kit and Lana had something to hide in their everyday lives, their loves. Kit had to hide his interracial marriage and Lana had to hide her lesbianism. On the topic of civil rights Paulson had to say, “I think it’s rife with possibility because of what the limitations were on a lot of people’s hearts and minds at that time and ignorance, as opposed to today where we have an African-American president and we’ve come a long way. But it’s still scary. I feel like the same thing could almost happen today.” Despite the horror of it all, Paulson believes it’s an important story to show. Showing the story of a human being might make an impact more than someone reading the facts. She goes on to say, “And, you know, we’re all human beings. Why does anyone care who someone else — and by the way, a stranger — loves? It just doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s so confusing.”
I want to save Lana and there’s nothing I can do
Another thing that makes the show scary, the idea that a person can have all of their rights taken away. The characters committed to Briarcliff have no power and are becoming increasingly desperate to escape. Paulson says that the inability to change your own circumstances is what makes the character’s stories terrifying. It’s also something that the viewers can relate to, as she knows from personal experience. She explains that having no control, “is really scary and that’s the element of the show this year that’s hard to shake because I want to save Lana and there’s nothing I can do.”
The show is so horrific that Paulson admits to being affected by some of the scenes, particularly in episode 2×04 “I Am Anne Frank” – Part 1 where her character is submitted to aversion/conversion therapy. The actress confesses to having sadness lingering with her after filming saying, “mentally, I know these things aren’t happening to me, but physically, my body doesn’t know. I’m having to emotionally communicate so much and that is something your body doesn’t know, like why you’re sobbing.”
On a much lighter note, Paulson talked about the scene in which Evan Peters had to bear it all. Paulson joked, “there are worse things to look at than Evan Peters from behind, I gotta say. I mean, Jessica and I blew a couple takes, we were laughing so hard because we just looked at each other and thought, “What the hell are we doing?!” We’re looking at these bare asses of these people and I’m handing her canes from the closet.”