When Finn Wittrock entered the "American Horror Story: Freak Show" scene last season, it was after three enormously popular seasons had already enchanted (and horrified) a dedicated fan base. But the actor's talent and commitment to the role of spoiled psychopath Dandy Mott clearly shined through, earning Wittrock an Emmy nomination and an offer to come back for this year's romp, "Hotel."
As revealed by Entertainment Weekly earlier this week, "Hotel" will find Wittrock in the slightly less psychotic role (we think) of Tristan, an up-and-coming male model who competes for affections of the owner of the Hotel Cortez, the Countess (Lady Gaga), with her other lover Donovan (Matt Bomer).
MTV News hopped on the phone with Wittrock on Friday, discussing everything from working with Gaga and Evan Peters (yep, they're doing scenes together!) to the pool party, to the fact that all of the dudes on the show this year have the same face.
MTV: You came into "American Horror Story" during an interesting time of transition. Is there a noticeable difference between the Jessica Lange set and the Lady Gaga set?
Finn Wittrock: I don’t know... it’s still a really big show. A lot of the cast I still haven’t seen or worked with, though I’ve been working for weeks. We’re in separate worlds. I find the vibe -- because we’re in L.A., and people are working close to home -- to be pretty peppy. The schedule is really intense on this show, and this year especially is very ambitious with technical stuff, and the look of it. There are stressful days. It does feel different, but... the show still has the same soul, just in a slightly different form.
And she’s just so completely committed, Gaga. She has a real contagious enthusiasm about the character, and immersing herself in it. It’s actually very exciting to be a part of. It feels like a reinvention.
MTV: Did you get to go to the pool party?
Wittrock: I did. I was at the pool party, from what I can remember.
MTV: And... what can you share about that experience, from what you can remember?
Wittrock: It was actually really cool. It’s rare that we actually do that stuff, come together just as a cast. It was just us. It was just the cast and their significant others and Ryan [Murphy]. So it was a really nice bonding experience. And she has a beautiful house, of course, and was a very gracious host. We kind of just, like, let loose, and came together.
In theater you do that -- you have more communal hangout time, getting to know each other, and remembering that we’re all in this together. Cause it is so sprawling -- we’re in our own universes. So it was cool to come together as a community. That was her goal, and it worked. It was pretty fun.
MTV: Who was the last partier standing?
Wittrock: I left before then, but I don’t know. Everyone was a true champion that night.
MTV: Your scene with Matt Bomer last year was certainly a... crowd pleaser. What's it like reuniting with him in this different power dynamic? Do you think he maybe deserves a little bit of revenge?
Wittrock: [Laughs] I might have something coming. He’s great, I love Matt. He’s such a committed actor. We get along really well, like we fight really well together. I don’t know why, or what that says about us. I don’t know where it’s heading, but there definitely is a very strong relationship between us, even though it’s built out of mainly animosity. It’s more complicated than just two guys who hate each other. We’re just kind of finding and discovering the nuance between each other, and with Gaga. It’s a cool, complicated triangle.
MTV: Is there anyone you didn't get to work with much last year, that you're getting more screen time with this time around?
Wittrock: Yeah, I get a fair amount of stuff to do with Evan this year, which I’m excited about. I worked with him a little at the end last year, but we have a cool dynamic together, so that’s fun. I don’t quite know who else I have too much to do with. I do have a bit of stuff with Cheyenne [Jackson], which is fun. But I’m still waiting for the next script too, so we’ll see. I have a feeling Tristan is going to get around a bit.
MTV: We just got our first glimpse at the Addiction Demon this week. Where do you think he ranks with Twisty, and Bloodyface, and some of the show's most ghastly creations?
Wittrock: Well, I don’t know how he ranks next to Twisty. I think he’s more of a metaphor for addiction itself, which is a more insidious demon.
MTV: Does it scare you?
Wittrock: Yes. Yeah. I think the idea of Addiction is that it’s inside us, that’s what’s scary, is that it’s an outside force. It’s something that’s already within us, and threatens to take us over.
MTV: It sounds like you're maybe dealing with some more serious themes this year, is that fair to say?
Wittrock: Yeah, this season is heavy. It’s bloodier and sexier, and also claustrophobic in a scary way. Last year was so much outside stuff, with the tents, and the sprawling... this year it’s so many interiors, and the hotel is taking on a life of its own. So it’s scary to be stuck inside, you know?
MTV: I have to ask... some fans [MTV News included] have noticed that you, Matt, Cheyenne, Wes Bentley, and Max Greenfield have some similar facial features. Have you read the theories, and are any coming close to the truth?
Wittrock: Well [laughs]. I follow on Instagram this guy called The Fat Jewish, did you see that? He was like "white people think..." That was pretty funny. I don’t know how conscious or unconscious that was on Ryan’s part, but there is actually a purpose behind us looking similar. There is a story point in that. It’s a bit under the surface, but it’s not a total accident.
MTV: Poor Evan. He's the odd man out.
Wittrock: Poor Evan, I know. It’s okay, Evan gets to do some really fun stuff this year. He’s always playing the romantic lead, and he gets to go a little dark side this year.
MTV: The ladies love Evan. I heard that Comic-Con applause.
Wittrock: He’s a hit. Oh yeah. I wouldn’t mess with him.
MTV: A rumor came out just yesterday that "AHS" might start doing two seasons. Would you be up for that?
Wittrock: ... I heard about that. That sounds insane, but most of Ryan’s insane ideas actually turn out pretty well. It’s already a very demanding show. But what’s better than one ice cream cone? Two ice cream cones. You know what I’m saying?
MTV: I do. So, is there one element of Tristan, or one scene, that you're most excited for fans to see?
Wittrock: I think in a lot of ways, he’s the diametrically opposed version of Dandy. Dandy... he acted through his idea of himself being in his own personal opera. A heightened idea of his life. Tristan is much more impulsive, and instinctual, and doesn’t think before he acts. He acts completely on impulse. So the spontaneity is the really fun thing about him. He’s kind of a jackal. Some wild animal. The unrestrained quality is the fun thing.
MTV: Finally, congrats on your Emmy nomination for "Freak Show!" Do you have any plans with the cast for the big night?
Wittrock: It will be fun to get a drink with the cast beforehand, before the magic begins. I don’t know, I just picked out a suit from Dior, so that was fun and fancy. I don’t know, I’m just going to try to have as much fun as possible, and just let the pressure just roll off me, you know? I’m just lucky to be here.
"American Horror Story: Freak Show" hits DVD and Blu-ray on October 6.