American Horror Stories Episode 7 Explained by Dylan McDermott - VRGyani News and Media

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Friday, August 20, 2021

American Horror Stories Episode 7 Explained by Dylan McDermott

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for American Horror Stories Episode 7, “Game Over.”]

From executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, the FX on Hulu streaming spin-off American Horror Stories is a weekly anthology series that features a different horror story with each episode and delves into various horror myths, legends and lore, with possible tie-ins and references to the AHS world. The season’s seventh and final episode, “Game Over,” directed by Liz Friedlander and written by Murphy and Falchuk, pulls out all the stops, starting with a couple (Noah Cyrus and Adam Hagenbuch) who are both murder buffs and huge AHS fans, and then following a single mother who is working on making an AHS-inspired video game, all while throwing in a number of familiar faces along the way.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actor Dylan McDermott talked about returning to Murder House and stepping back into the role of Dr. Ben Harmon (10 years after first joining the American Horror Story universe), why he says yes to anything that Murphy sends his way, embracing the crying memes, playing a character who’s stuck in a hell of his own making, and passing the torch to the next generation.

Collider: When the opportunity to return to Murder House and Dr. Ben Harmon came about, were you immediately on board, or did you want to know more details about what the story and circumstances would be first?

DYLAN McDERMOTT: I trust Ryan [Murphy]. We’ve been working together for over 10 years now, and I really trust him. We have a shorthand with each other. Whatever he asks me to do, I just say, “Yes.” I don’t even have to read it, at this point. I know that it’s something interesting and something fun and something that I can sink my teeth into. He told me early on that he was writing something for me, so I was immediately intrigued. And then, I found out it was Ben Harmon again and Murder House. It’s been 10 years since the beginning of American Horror Story, which blows my mind. Going back there and having all these memories with Connie [Britton] and Jessica [Lange] and Evan [Peters], and Ryan, and this new format, and horror, and an anthology series.

[American Horror Story Season 1] was all new. One-year contracts were never the case. You always had to sign your life away. It was all brand new, so it was nice going back and being in the same house. I’m trying to up the ante a little bit with Ben. He’s even more tortured than he’s already been. He’s smoking, he’s drinking, and he’s just trying to find some relief. It’s interesting when you go back and play the same character, after 10 years. And to play someone who’s still in the same position. All that stuff, to me, was fun.

What was it like for you, as an actor, to revisit this set and this character? Did you immediately get nostalgic, as you were shooting this?

McDERMOTT: It’s like going back to your childhood home, in many ways, when everything seemed like it was a little bit bigger. You’re like, “I remember this. This is my office, and there’s the stained glass.” I would go upstairs and hang out in Vivian and Ben’s bedroom. There were all the memories of being at Paramount and being in that house. Time has passed and there’s the success of the show. The show is still on the air and it’s gonna be on the air for another three seasons, and then probably another three seasons after that. It’s pretty incredible, when you really look at it. It just washes over you, as you walk in the doors again and there you are, playing the same character again, after 10 years.

I absolutely loved the moment in this episode with your character crying on the couch and saying, “Sorry, I usually only cry like this after I masturbate,” because it’s the one thing that truly ties your character back to American Horror Story. Why do you think it was important to include that? Do you feel like there was any way you could have brought him back without referencing that?

McDERMOTT: It’s just a standing joke. The memes of me crying, over and over again, is a joke. It’s a joke now that I’m in on, thankfully. It’s not like, “Oh, God, I can’t believe that they always send me back there.” I enjoy it, at this point because it is Ben. It’s who he is. He’s a crybaby. And now he’s gotta do that, every single day.

Is there anything worse for him than being stuck with his wife, his forever teenage daughter, her boyfriend and a newborn, and his former mistress, all in the same house? Is this just the bed he made for himself?

McDERMOTT: Yeah, it is. It’s his own doing. But he literally is in hell, every day. They’re trapped, and the house is crowded, at this point. Honestly, what could be worse? The fact that he would burn and have some relief and not have to be in that house anymore is something that he probably is looking forward to.

Did you think about what he’s done in this time with them and how he passes the days?

McDERMOTT: Well, let’s not forget that he’s a psychiatrist. He’s probably tried to have some kind of therapy sessions, although he’s not the best psychiatrist in the world, let’s be honest. I think he’s tried to have therapy sessions – maybe group therapy and individual therapy. I think he’s tried, certainly, to mend the past and what he’s done and what he’s culpable for. The problem is that it never seemed to make a dent. Everybody stays the same. Vivian is still angry at him, and Tate never really gets better. Ben really never understands his part in it all. It’s just endless. It’s like he says in the episode, it’s a record that just keeps skipping, over and over and over again.

RELATED: 'American Horror Story' Keeps Going Back to Murder House: Here's All the History, Characters, and Ghosts Who Have Haunted It

This episode starts off with a couple who dares to spend a night in this house, and that couple is named Connie and Dylan. Is that a nod to you and Connie Britton? Did you have a conversation about that?

McDERMOTT: No, that was just in there. I thought it was hilarious that their names would be Connie and Dylan.

There are people who do that sort of thing and go stay in reportedly haunted places, in real life. What do you think it is that is such a draw and an appeal for people who are not just drawn to scary movies and TV shows, but who actually have to seek it out for real?

McDERMOTT: It’s so interesting to me, why people like to be scared. In real life, we don’t really like to be scared, but in entertainment, we love it. We love to go to horror movies and watch them on TV, and we watch American Horror Story, and we have the jump scares and all that stuff. But in real life, it’s not the same at all. I don’t know what the fascination is with being scared or watching something to be scared. People obviously love horror. It’s huge.

It’s so much easier to watch it because you could always turn off the TV and turn the lights back on. Even with Halloween mazes, they’re actors that are scaring you. Doing it for real and actually spending the night in a house like this, I just can’t imagine ever putting myself in that position.

McDERMOTT: I would never do it.

It feels like that first season of American Horror Story was a turning point in your career and that it’s led to you playing some very different types of characters since then. Do you feel like a different actor, since the first time you played this character?

McDERMOTT: I’ve always wanted to be a character actor. That really was what I liked, but then I got caught up in being a leading man for a while. Now that I’ve gotten older... I certainly think Hollywood changed all that, which again was Ryan Murphy. Ryan Murphy has been in my corner for so many years now and allows me to be other people when maybe other producers wouldn’t. He saw something in me, certainly with Hollywood, that really changed my career. Now, I’m able to do something like Organized Crime, which is a completely different character again. That’s what’s great about working with Ryan. He allows you to create other characters that are different from yourself, as we can see with all the actors on American Horror Story, American Crime Story, and all the shows he does. He allows a lot of actors to transform. Certainly, Sarah Paulson has done that so incredibly well, over a decade now. That’s the genius of Ryan. That’s why you wanna work with him. He gives you incredible roles.

And it’s not just actors that we’re used to seeing, like Sarah Paulson or you, or some of the other actors that were familiar when they started working with him, but you share a scene in this with Kaia Gerber and Paris Jackson, who are both new to acting and have really interesting characters that they’re playing in this. What did you enjoy about working with them?

McDERMOTT: It was interesting because it really was like passing the torch. I was there for the beginning, and now all of these young people are coming up and being a part of the American Horror sphere and everyone is saying, “Here, carry it on. Let’s keep going.” That’s what I felt. It was like, “Okay, now it’s time to pass the torch on to the next generation.”

Ben helps to set events in motion to burn down the house and set all of these souls free. Were you happy to give him something of a redemption in this episode? Do you feel he even deserves one? Do you think he feels like he deserves one?

McDERMOTT: I think Ben is probably a little bit more forgiving of himself than anybody else is, in the house. That’s what makes him Ben. I don’t know how much he actually sees of himself. I think he sees other people, but does he really see his own flaws? That’s the big question with him. That’s what’s interesting, that narcissism that he has. He doesn’t really look at himself. He looks at others.

There’s an interesting conversation in this about how it was up to these ghosts where they went, when the house burned down. What do you think came of him, after being set free?

McDERMOTT: Well, I guess the big question is, was it a video game or was it real life?

Or was that video game based on real-life?

McDERMOTT: That’s the ongoing question. If it was the video game, then he still exists and he’s still in the house. If it was real life, then maybe he’s been transported to another realm now and won’t be as tortured. Maybe he’s paid his dues.

Liz Friedlander directed this episode, and she directed episodes of another TV show you’ve done, with Stalker. What do you enjoy about working with her, as a director?

McDERMOTT: Liz and I have a shorthand. She also did American Horror Story, when I did 1984, and then Stalker, and now American Horror Stories. She knows me and trusts me, and I trust her. It’s nice to have those relationships, where you can work with people and they know and trust you, and know you’re gonna get the job done. When you’ve been in the business for awhile, there are more and more of those people, like Liz, who are not questioning your talent. You know that they know that you can get it done, as I know with her and trust her.

Was this an episode that was shot very quickly? Did you have time to play around at all?

McDERMOTT: I always feel like I never walk away thinking that I didn’t get it. I make sure, if I’m in a scene, that I don’t leave the scene until I feel like I personally did everything I possibly could. There’s enough time to get it done. I feel like, whether there’s little time or no time, or a lot of time, I never walk away thinking, “Man, I wish I did this,” or “I should’ve done that.” You just stay in it until you get it.

American Horror Stories is available to stream at FX on Hulu.

KEEP READING: 'American Horror Stories': Matt Bomer on Shooting with the Rubber (Wo)Man Suit and the Choice to Live in a Murder House



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