Dennis O’Hare Talks to Shock About American Horror Story

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Playing the burned man Larry Harvey

If you’re not watching American Horror Story, you’re missing out on one of television’s most sinister, grotesque, yet amiable, new characters: Larry Harvey (a name inspired by the co-founder of the annual Burning Man festival).

First introduced spying on AHS‘ Dylan McDermott (who happens to be diddling himself in front of a window), Harvey is a limping, burned husk of a man with a abominable past, however, actor Denis O’Hare’s portrayal of the man makes viewers like him in a warped sort of way. We shouldn’t gravitate towards him. He killed his family after all, yet there’s something comical about Harvey. Something sad.

This week, following the airing of AHS‘ seventh episode, Shock sat in on a press discussion with O’Hare – who is no stranger to genre television with True Blood and his portrayal of the vampire Russell.

Like many actors before him who have endured impressive make-up transformations – from Lon Chaney to Robert Englund, O’Hare fully utilizes his “burn” visage, the work of FX artist Mike Mekash (Iron Man 2), physically and internally.

“When we first put it on, I went walking around the Paramount lot to the cafeteria,” he told Shock. “It was very uncomfortable because the make-up is so good and so real, people assumed I wasn’t an actor. They thought, ‘Hey, look at that poor guy.’ People would avert their eyes or nod politely. It’s a great exercise in exploring what the character’s daily reality must be like. I found myself and I find myself not wanting to be in public. When I’m shooting, I tend to stay in my trailer. I don’t want to walk around, I don’t want to be gawked at. It’s really weird. Not that I’m ashamed, I don’t want to be the freak show, which was really an interesting experience to have.”

“It’s an intense thing,” he added. “I can really only smile on one side of my face, the right side. The left side is locked down. That creates a wry, crooked expression. It’s funny, I’ve had a few scenes where I’ve wept and the left eye also weeps, [laughing] so there is that.”

To develop the character, O’Hare did have to look beyond the make-up, however.

“I love this character because I feel like he’s engaged in this epic struggle,” he said. “I see him as this Dante-esque figure, trapped in a circle of Hell and he works his way out. He’s a human being, so he’s weak and has given into temptation and he makes bad choices, but through that all, he’s got this passion and dream to achieve something. It’s an odd character. I feel like I have to reach for metaphor to describe him. I have an innate sense for who he is and in my playing him, it’s all very instinctual, but to describe him, I find myself referring to literature like in the Frankenstein mythology or a psychopomp, someone who traffics between worlds. It’s an odd and beautiful character.”

When he was asked if his return to True Blood will conflict with the second season of American Horror Story, O’Hare said that the two shows have different shooting schedules, so he will not have any problems balancing both duties.

We’ll have more with O’Hare and American Horror Story soon!

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor