Zachary Quinto talks about ‘American Horror Story”s ugly, shocking twist

For all of you who saw “American Horror Story” last night (and for those of you who didn’t, cover your eyes and run — spoilers ahead!), we finally learned the ugly truth about Bloody Face — and unfortunately, so did Lana. Of course, one big reveal just leads to more questions. Luckily, in a conference call with journalists Quinto talked about the surprising Dr. Thredson, hinted at what’s ahead for Bloody Face and his latest victim, and why things are going to be getting “a lot more disturbing in the coming weeks.” The best news? Quinto promises that all questions will be answered… eventually.

When did you know you were Bloody Face? 

I knew from the very beginning, and my responsibility became to create a character people could trust. he’s the one voice of reason and sanity in this chaotic world. It was more exciting to know from the beginning. It gave me more to play with and more to hold back. 

How is this guy different from Sylar on “Heroes”? Why do this series?

I think any time an actor revisits territory, it can be a source of trepidation. But what I loved [with “American Horror Story”] was that I got to know going in, I got to really build something. With “Heroes,” that character was really built before I was seen… It was just the character was spoken about. It was the process of creating a character, to me that was a difference and I thought, yeah, that makes sense. I felt I could really serve the story as well… I liked that it was self-contained, an immersion that I was doing for a set period of time. So I was really excited about all of those elements.

When you performed aversion therapy with Lana, what were your thoughts about that?

I think the scene was very reflective of a pervasive attitude of the time. It was powerful to revisit it and provide the audience with a reflection of that really abhorrent thinking. We’ve come a long way since then… it’s always good as an actor to allow your work to be a conduit for a social discourse. This season of the show, it’s really doing that in a lot of powerful ways, that being one of many. Another reason why I’m proud to be a part of this kind of storytelling.

Are we going to get into the psychosis of the psycho here?

Next week’s show is called “The Origins of Monstrosity,” so it really dives into a lot of the roots of the characters of this world in the asylum. A lot of things will become clear and probably a lot more disturbing in the next couple weeks.

You and Sarah Paulson [Lana on “AHS”] are friends, so how does it impact your scenes?

I have such a respect for Sarah as an actress… it’s a rare opportunity to show up to work with a really good friend. It’s an even richer experience when you have that foundation of friendship. We’re able to address our needs and instincts in the individual process. We’re also able to have more fun and laugh a little bit more. There’s less awkwardness to cut through. It strengthens the relationship the characters share. It’s also just love watching her character and the journey she’s taken. She’s gone to so many extreme and challenging emotional places and done it so beautifully and dynamically. It’s been a joy for me, this whole experience.

Has everything been a ruse with Dr. Thredson? His advice about Charlotte’s post-partum psychosis seemed legitimate.

I think he definitely believes in it. Part of being a psychopath is being able to disassociate and create another reality completely. His level of medical training… I think he’s very skilled. That’s why he’s able to get away with it for as long as he does. The tragedy of the character is he could have been something else. He could have made a real contribution if he had channeled his energy.

What was it like approaching season two as a threat as opposed to season one, in which you were a victim?

The story last year was told in a different style. This is a period piece, and there are considerations that go along with that. I don’t know how much it has to do with not being the antagonist in a way, it’s all just circumstantial. There’s still a lot of psychological manipulations going on. That stuff is all fun. I just think of it in terms of what’s driving the person. Those motivations are very different for Chad than they are for Thredson.

Why does Thredson only attack women? And are you coming back for season three?

You’ll find out much more about that in the coming weeks. I won’t spoil it. But it all traces back to one source of trauma that then sort of branches out to include all of these unfortunate women. I just read today that the show got picked up for a third installment, that’s really exciting. People are really responding to it and FX has been really great… I haven’t had any conversations with Ryan so I have no idea what he’s planning for the third season. I’m sure he has plans, and if he involves me I’m sure I’ll get a call about it. But I’m just focused on moving through this season.

What did you think of the fan reaction to the big reveal?

The things I scrolled through seemed excited and supportive, and I’m sure I have more of those people reaching out to me than those who aren’t excited. That’s sort of the nature of Twitter, isn’t it?

Will we find out if present day Bloody Face is Thredson?

Wouldn’t that be cool? Yeah, you’ll find all that out. I’ve just read the next episode last night. It’s pretty freaky and cool. It’s driving to a point really well, and the storytelling stretch is going to pay off in a big way. The questions people have will be answered. That’s the feeling I have, having read almost through to the end now.

Did you like the fact that the show is dealing with modern American issues in a period setting?

I do think it’s uniquely American in the way it’s structured and in certain instances it’s homage to stories that have come before it. The Catholic institutions in this country in particular and the social history of racism and homophobia and the way to treat people who are mentally ill, and the way we dive into them in storytelling is very American. I thought the one that just aired, I was so inspired by Alfonso’s direction. It was a wonderfully composed episode. 

Did you get input into season two?

I did have a few conversations with Ryan and Brad before we started, and I had a chance to contribute to what I wanted to see. But once they got going, their engine drives them forward in surprising and unexpected ways. 

What are your other favorite story lines on “American Horror Story: Asylum”?

I think that the Kit storyline, and watching Evan, he’s really fantastic. I really love what Lily’s doing now that she has the devil inside. That’s delicious and she’s doing such great stuff with that. And I can’t take my eyes off Jessica Lange. She’s so committed to her ferocity of instinct. It’s riveting and inspiring at the same time. I wish I had more to do with James Cromwell, but maybe there’s something to look forward to there. We’ll have to wait and see.

Has this role been physically challenging? 

In terms of the physicality of a show like this, a lot of us have had to go through some intense physical experiences, whether it’s Chloe’s legs being removed or Sarah going through electroshock therapy, the people who’ve been murdered or attacked. We all have the capacity to understand the make believe world we go to everyday, but our bodies aren’t as understanding. We have to take care of our bodies and get exercise and get body work. We have to shake it off. I never had problems shaking it off, but some things with this character are a little hard to leave at work, but I think it’s important to maintain that clarity. 

Did you know when you did the first season you’d be back?

When I did it the first time round, the timing of it worked out really well because “Star Trek” had gotten pushed… and it ended up being four episodes, but I didn’t know what it would be. In the middle of that he brought up the second season being entirely different, and that was the beginning of the conversations. 

Does playing Thredson have an emotional effect on you?

It does to a degree. I consider it my responsibility to myself to discern the boundaries in my life… as a trained actor, that’s what I learned to do as well… I learned how to navigate these complicated landscapes and stay grounded… I know I can let myself go in certain ways because I won’t let myself go in others.

What do you think makes great horror?

Stories that reflect societal fear back to the audience on some visceral level is the most compelling kind of horror, and that’s what the show is doing… tackling issues that have relevance to our modern society. Really getting to the root of what drives us. That can be really scary, and I think that’s what’s happening with a lot of the characters we’re playing this year.

What is your passion? Do you want to direct?

I would love to get to a place where I’m ready to direct. I’m not there yet, but I aspire to that, for sure. My passion is acting and has always been. It’s what’s brought me to this point where I can diversify… I can’t see that changing. I’m really fulfilled by having a production company and being able to produce films. 

Why do you think horror has become such a hit on cable TV? 

The world we live in is precariously perched in so many ways… these shows reflect them back so effectively. They tap into these primal fears all of us share. I think that’s important, especially in a world that has as much anxiety as this one does… It’s exciting, but also a little scary that that’s the world we live in, as well. 

Is there a line you won’t cross?

After reading last episode last night, I was asking myself the exact same thing. But I think I’ll know when I reach it… I’ve always felt safe and supportted on this show. Trust and professionalism are the most important things, and we definitely have those on “American Horror Story.”

Was Thredson trying to help Lana with the aversion therapy?
I think is was a test, and I think a lof of his behavior in the first four episodes were serving some ulterior motive. I think he was trying to gain Lana’s trust and gain some intimacy with her. I think he was definitely trying to show here that he coild be there for her, even though something as barbaric as that. At the time, it was a pervasive mentality that homosexuality was something that could be treated… so he was using the forward thinking of the time to help her, then get her out there, that she would then be more likely to go along with, because he’d already tried the prescribed route, then he can be more radical about it, and she already has more faith in him. It works to a T for him.