Actress Lily Rabe spoke with the press recently about her turn in American Horror Story: Asylum, in which she played Sister Mary Eunice. Previously, she has slipped into the shoes of Nora Montgomery in season one of the FX series. Eunice proved to be a much larger role for Rabe, and a greater challenge.
Head inside for the discussion ShockTillYouDrop.com participated in.
Needless to say… There are spoilers within.
Question: Im curious how far in advance did you know what your characters fate was going to be? Did you kind of have an idea about that from the beginning?
Lily Rabe: I had some sense, yes, I knew that she probably wouldnt have a very happy ending, so I did have a sense and then sort of as we went along the specifics of how that was all going to happen became clearer as we went along.
Question: What was it like for you to kind of explore the light and dark sides of a character like Mary Eunice?
Rabe: Yes, I think the death scene, the way Ryan and I really talked about it its really sort of an assisted suicide. Her situation really wasnt survivable in the sense that even if they had done some sort of exorcism or something at that point, we sort of felt that whatever might be left of that girl was so damaged and destroyed and that death sort of became her only way out. Yes, playing that through once the possession happened that was such a wonderful challenge and a sort of dance really to live between with both the lightness and the darkness existing at the same time in that battle and then that losing battle really.
Question: I know youve said that that you dont want to be seen, it was kind of daunting when you knew you had to be lip synching and youre all by yourself, but were there any scenes that involved other people that either the subject matter, or just anything about it made them kind of you dreaded them coming up when you saw them?
Rabe: You know the cremation scene was very, very difficult for me. When I read it, I knew I thought, oh, this is going to be tricky, its going to be a little tough, but it was much harder than I had even imagined it would be. But other than that, you know I really like when I read a scene and it scares me. That sort of makes me excited. I was so even though, yes, lip synching or not really lip synching, singing along with the ear bud or whatever, it was such a thrill and the director sort of gave me the whole room. He just had it set up so that they could shoot the whole room, and I could really have total freedom to do whatever and thats really so much fun, so for the most part I really like when I read a scene that scares me and makes me sweat a little bit thinking about doing it. Thats usually a good sign to me.
Question: What did you find the most difficult part of the whole role?
Rabe: Well, you know, I think some of the murders having sort of in those moments where she was just absolutely sort of in her completely taken over by the devil and throwing these actors around and slitting their throats and stabbing them ruthlessly and all of that sort of, you know Ive been the victim a lot, so Ive often played the person whos getting raped or murdered or abused. And so to actually be raping and murdering and abusing people is a whole different kind of challenge and one that it was very difficult at times and sometimes I would sort of go home from work and just kind of stare at the wall for a couple of hours. But I cant complain, because easily if whatever kind of knocks you out working is the kind of work that I want to be doing because its always those challenges that are the most exciting and the things I hope to get to keep doing in my work.
Question: I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about Dr. Ardens relationship with Sister Mary Eunice and his decision in the end to kill himself, who is that a victory for, if anyone?
Rabe: Oh gosh, a victory, I dont know, I dont know. I never thought of it. I always thought of it as sort of the perfect ending for the two of them. It seemed so fitting and of course we were always talking about, James Cromwell and I were always sitting around talking about Shakespeare like big theater dorks and so we felt like wed gotten a nice, Ryan had given us a sort of beautiful Shakespearian ending in a horror story Shakespearian ending. But I think it seemed sort of completely sort of the perfect end to the very, very, very bizarre and complicated and dark love story of sorts. I think for him he really had loved her for so long and been so devoted to her; and I cant speak for Jamie, but I feel like that was just maybe the last straw for him.
I think in the way that she dies, which is certainly I think I said this earlier to someone, but more of a sort of an assisted suicide, a sort of consensual death with the Monsignor. And I think that shes certainly trying to free herself and also get this devil that she has become away from everyone else. I think it is sort of her most heroic moment and also sort of her only, really her only choice at that point. But I think that, yeah, there is having taking Dr. Arden away with her is certainly not a bad thing for everybody else who is left alive, although theres still a whole lot of stuff to work out and a lot of evil left around thats for sure.
Question: Will you be back in season three? Have you started talking to Ryan about it? I know that you cant probably say, but what kind of character do you think you would like to play, because I know that he sort of goes through the actors and asks a little bit what theyd like to do next and kind of tries to give them something different than what theyre done before.
Rabe: Yes, well, he certainly succeeded in that this season with everyone so brilliantly and Im sure he will just of course do that again. I dont know. I think Ryans ideas are usually better than mine, but yes, I dont know. I dont know, but certainly something you just want to do something different. Thats the joy of what the setup is.
Question: But you do think youll be back.
Rabe: I have no idea. I cant say a word. Im so sorry. I know its such a boring interview sometimes with us at American Horror Story, so that I just cant say a word.
Question: I really enjoyed how you embodied the devil in Sister Mary, Im wondering how did you approach it because I feel that the combination of comedy and horror and Im wondering if the director somehow guided you on how to play the devil in your character?
Rabe: Yes, you know the truth is the way that I approached it really was to figure out before we started shooting the most important thing to me was to really figure out who Sister Mary Eunice was and not really worry about the possession or the devil because to me so much of what a possession is is specific to the person. So that to play the sort of dark side or underbelly of someone or their sort of shadow taking over its really about knowing who that person is before that event has taken place of this dark thing sort of taking over. So it was more about figuring out who she really was through and through.