Monday, November 19, 2012

American Horror Story:Asylum's Zachary Quinto Talks His Character's Darker Side and much more!


Last week I had the chance to take part in a conference call with one of the stars of 'American Horror Story Asylum' the devilishly talented Zachary Quinto. I am excited to share some of the juicy Q&A chat that I think you will enjoy. ***SPOILERS ahead if you have NOT seen last week's episode "I Am Anne Frank Part 2"

He tells what he thinks about his past works. If the show has gone too far for a good scare and what is ahead for the rest of the season for his character Oliver Thredson and more!

Did you always know, or you knew from the start about your character plot twist?

Zachary Q: Yes, I knew from the very beginning. It was part of the conversation that I had
with Ryan [Murphy] about me coming back to the second installment of
the show, in the first place. It very much informed the character that I was
building from the beginning.

I felt like my responsibility became to create a character
that people could trust, or at least trust initially, and have some hope
that perhaps he is actually the one voice of reason and sanity within this
chaotic world. So it was actually more exciting for me to know from the
beginning. It gave me more to play with and more to hold back and more
secrets to keep.

How is this character different from your previous role as Sylar on "Heroes". What got you hooked on really
wanting to play this part?

Zachary Q:
I think any time an actor revisits territory that they have been in before, it can be a
source of trepidation, as it was for me. But part of the reason that I loved
what the opportunity stood for was that I got to know, going in, I got to
really build something. With 'Heroes', that character was built before I was
ever attached to it. You were eight episodes in before you met "Gabriel Grey" on "Heroes". I had no participation in that.

So for me, it was really exciting to get to go in and having all the information, and
actually be that part of the process of creating a character. That, to me,
was a difference... something that I thought, yes, that
makes sense. It also has a similar structure to the journey that I had on
Heroes, at least the introduction or the reveal. It proved
very effective in that scenario and I felt I could really also serve this story
in this particular innovation as well.

So that, and that it’s just more rooted in character and relationship, and less rooted in the sort of peripheral elements like superpowers. I liked that this was grounded and real. It’s something that I’m always drawn to is that kind of direction. So I felt like it was--and it wasn't--it's not a six year commitment as it could be with another show.

It’s self-contained and it was an immersion that I’m not going to be repeating or carrying on for an extended period of time. It was something I got to go and contribute and benefit and grow and learn, and then be on to other creative pursuits and that, I think, is an environment in which I thrive. So I was really excited about all those elements.

How did you feel doing the aversion therapy scene?  Trying to change Lana. People think they can change ones sexual preference.

Zachary Q:
I mean I think the scene was very reflective of a pervasive mentality of the time.
As unsettling as it is, I think it was powerful to revisit it and to present an
audience with a reflection of that kind of really abhorrent thinking.
Obviously, we’ve come a long ways since then and that’s great. There’s
so much progress made and more work to do.

So I think it’s always good when you’re able to, as an actor, allow
your work to be some kind of a conduit for a social discourse. I think
an examination of where we are as a society and I think this season of
the show, this iteration of … This installment of the show is really doing that in a lot of powerful ways, that being one of many. So another reason why I’m grateful to be a part of this kind of storytelling and this kind of environment.

Question: Now that we know the real Dr Oliver Thredson. Will we dig deeper into his psychosis, of why he is the so twisted?

Zachary Q: Yes, next week’s (Airing Nov 21)  show is called “The Origins of Monstrosity” and so it really
dives into a lot of the roots of the characters in this world in Asylum. So
yes, a lot of things will become clearer and probably even more disturbing
in the next couple of weeks.

Question: What are some the shows you enjoy on TV right now?

Zachary Q: I’ve been watching Homeland pretty religiously. I’m a pretty giant fan of that
show. I mean, it’s really compelling and so well executed. It’s like I’m so excited for House of Cards to come onto Netflix in February.

I’ve been known to watch an episode or two of The Voice, I
will say that. I think it’s, of that kind of programming, I think it’s really
innovative and unique and well done. I think the performers—I don’t
know—I find there’s an element of authenticity to that show that I really
respond to and I very rarely respond to any kind of reality programming.

So if I’m going to watch, it has to be people doing something that I could never do and obviously, each one of those singers that holds true for. I have watched a couple episodes of that lately.

I have watched Boss, which I think is also really great television and I hope
more people watch it or can see it. It’s like that stuff is so accessible.
So that’s kind of about it. I mean, it ebbs and flows in terms of my
availability for it.

Question: Everything we've seen Oliver do seen so far—was everything a ruse? Or is
there a side of him that deeply believes in the psychiatry part?

Zachary Q: I think he definitely believes in it. I think part of being a psychopath is an ability
to dissociate from one reality and create another one completely. I think he does that expertly. I think his level of training, medical training and intuition instinct---I think he's very skilled. I mean, that’s what allows him to get away with it as long as he does. 

So yes, I think he does believe in it, which is kind of another layer of tragedy
of the character is that he could have been something else. He could have
made a more significantly positive contribution had he only rechanneled his traumas, his energy.

Question: Is there a reason behind why he's targeting just women?

Zachary Q:
I won’t spoil it by being too specific. But it all traces back to one source, something that happened in his past. It sort of branches out to include all of these unfortunate women.

Question: Favorite of all of your roles ('Sylar' on "Heroes", 'Spock; in "Star Trek") you've played so far?

Zachary Q: I mean, I feel like each one of those experiences was so
profound and unique and my last side of six years has been just full of
growth and creative fulfillment. I don’t know. It’s hard to sort of narrow it
down one, but my favorite, I feel like they are accumulative in a lot of
ways. As far as the T.V. aspect of it goes, I would say that I feel more
settled as I’m getting older and sort of like my experience of things feels
kind of more complete.

So “Thredson” has been very satisfying to me in that regard. I just feel like
I’ve been carrying more of my experience with me into my work and as I
get older, that deepens naturally. So that’s kind of cool, but I just like to do
good work, or try to do good work with good people and I’ve been really
so lucky in that regard. As long as I continue, that’s all I could ask really.

Question:  Did you always know it was going to be an anthology, going into season one?

Zachary Q: No, I didn’t know when doing it the first time around, the timing of it
worked out really well for me because Star Trek had gotten pushed, so I
ended up having like a little bit of a window that I didn’t expect to have.
Ryan called to ask. I just thought it was going to be a couple and it
ended up being four episodes in that first installment. But I didn’t know
what it would be, and then it was in the middle of that, that he actually
brought up the idea of the second season being entirely different.

That was the beginning of the conversations, which really intrigued me,
obviously. I had been exploring the possibility of another specific job
that would have been a more traditional sort of  T.V. structure and it was
really exciting in its own way. But when Ryan presented the plan to me
about this, it just seemed like there was no question that it was a little bit
more unique and exciting to me, because of that, so that made my decision pretty clear.


Question: How does the Asylum-- the environment help you get into character?

Zachary Q: I think that our production designer and
the art department—I mean, I think they’ve done such an extraordinary
job of creating this immensely oppressive, overwhelming environment,
which does have actual characteristics depending on what part of the set
you’re shooting in. I just think it’s a gold mine of information and
opportunity for action and activities along the way. It’s just such a full environment we work in.

It’s great, and that continues in the coming weeks because you get to see
much more of the lair in which Lana is being held captive and a lot of their
scenes take place. Yes, I think the asylum itself, I think the hydrotherapy
room and what that invokes and what happens in there. I’m really grateful to the creative team, they do such a remarkable job.

Question:  How do you prepare mentally to play this dark, demented kind of role, and do you enjoy it, or find it more of a challenge?

Zachary Q: It depends on the scene. There are different levels of preparation for different
scenes in different kinds of work. So I have a combination of things that I do.
I usually just find some solitude and some quiet in a little corner of the set where there's not a lot of traffic--not a lot of people around and do what it is that I need to do.

I listen to music a lot, if I need to get into a particular emotional space, I use that and just other sort of stretching, just breathing, taking time to mostly be quiet and fine that kind of stillness.

I think that’s important. I love playing characters that go to extreme places
and I love to explore different kinds of psychological landscapes, so it is
ultimately a kind of fun, but it’s also complicated and colored by the depth
of the nastiness of it at certain times as well. That can be a challenging part.

Question: Dr. Thredson intent on using aversion therapy. Was he actually trying to help Lana ? Or was it a test?
Zachary Q: Yes, I think it was a test and I think he was also—I think a lot of his actions in the first four and a half episodes of Asylum were serving some ulterior motive. So I think he was trying to gain Lana's trust and to gain some proximity to her and some intimacy with her. I think he was definitely trying to show her that he could be there for her; that she could rely on him even through something as ugly as that and as brutal as that.
As barbaric as we can see it today, at the time it was a pervasive social mentality that homosexuality was something that could be treated medically or psychologically. So I think to that end, he was implementing the forward thinking of the time to try to help her, or try to feel like he was helping her, to make some effort to get her out of there. Then it put him in a position when it didn’t work to devise a more radical approach to getting her out; that she would then be more likely to go along with because he’s already tried the more prescribed route or institutional route. 
Let me see if I can prove that I’ve cured you, then they have to let you out. But when that doesn’t work, and he knows it won’t I think on some level, then he can sort of be more radical about it and she already has more faith in him. She already has trust in him, so she’s more likely to go along with it. I think it’s kind of a manipulative tactic that worked to a tee for him. So I think that’s what’s that’s an example of there.

Question: It seems like the second season is way more intense than the first season. Do they worry about going too far?

Zachary Q: I think that they’re certainly sensitive and Ryan is a very sensitive artist. I think he’s constantly striving for balance in his work and never wants to go too far in one extreme direction or another. I think there’s a process of refinement that the show goes through as its post production happens and Ryan is an integral part of that. I think there are checks and balances and measures in place to make sure that it’s driving in the right direction.

I think so far, it is in a lot of ways. But I do think it is more uncompromising this year. 
It is sort of tackling more things at once and really diving in and examining.
It feels like it’s pulling an audience along in really dynamic way, so hopefully that’s generating a response.
 It seems to be, anyway, with people coming back and watching week after week. 
That is, after all, I believe how they assess those things, at least at the network and the studio.

Question: What other storyline(s) are you excited to see more of other then just your character?

Zachary Q: I think that the “Kit” storyline—I really love also watching…Evan Peters I think is fantastic. 
So I really love that; I really love what Lily [Rabe] is doing, now that she’s got the devil inside. 
I think that’s just such a delicious kind of—she’s doing such great stuff with that. 
That’s really fun for me to watch and I can’t take my eyes off Jessica Lange.
 I just think she’s so committed to just her ferocity of instinct.
 She’s just like—it’s so riveting and inspiring at the same time.
So I love working with these people. I wish I had more to do with James Cromwell. 
I have never really crossed paths like the doctor in the asylum. 
Maybe there’s something to look forward to there. We’ll have to wait and see. 

 Is there a line that you would not cross with regards to horror? 
Zachary Q:
That’s funny you should ask that question actually. 
After I read the episode last night[an upcoming episode], I was asking myself the same thing. 
Yes, I don’t know. If there is a line that I won’t cross, I haven’t reached it yet; at least on this show. 
But I’m sure it’s particularly circumstantial and that I would know it if I ever was in that situation. 
I think things are handled with enough respect and professional and creative acumen.
I have always felt safe and always felt supported. 
So I think those are the two most important elements.
The trust and professionalism and we have those in excess at American Horror Story; so that’s good.

If you enjoyed the interview. Feel free to follow me on Twitter : @Devoted2TV


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