In my earlier recap of the premiere of American Horror Story: Freak Show, I noted how flawlessly they managed to pull off Sarah Paulson’s two heads in her portrayal of conjoined twins, Bette and Dot. I couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around what kind of special effects they had to come up with to create such a seamless character — or, characters. But in a post-premiere interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ryan Murphy gave some insight as to how it was done, and it sounds like no expense was spared.
It’s hard. On average, if you have a two-person scene maybe it will take five hours. If Sarah Paulson’s character is in it, it’s around 12-20. Sarah has to do everything four times. We had a fake Dot made for her based on her own head. She pre-records most of her dialogue. So she’s wearing an invisible earwig when she’s doing scenes with herself. It’s incredibly grueling and very draining on Sarah but she really went for it. I think the results are really quite amazing. One of the things is most conjoined twins on film are depicted with two actors that are connected at the chest. That’s certainly something we thought about doing. But for Sarah, I wanted to challenge her and we thought it would be great to do the two-heads/one body.
We did a screen test early on to see if we could even make it work and we were told we could make it work but it would be incredibly time consuming and expensive. I had no idea how time consuming. But we have like 23 people only on those shots so it’s been fascinating.
Yeah, I’ve read that three times and I still can’t really wrap my head around how they pulled it off. I give Ryan Murphy a lot of sh*t because he is a ridiculous man and everything he does is completely balls to wall — but in this case, dude nailed it.