Courtesy of FX
A NOTE FROM THE PASSIONISTAS: We tend to shy away from our biggest pet peeve in life, SPOILER ALERTS, in our interviews. But once you see this season of American Horror Story: Cult, you’ll understand why that wasn’t possible when we talked to Chaz Bono. So if you haven’t watched this season yet, go do it. And then be sure to come back and read our article with Chaz.
Anybody who only knows Chaz Bono from Dancing with the Stars, as being the offspring of the iconic duo Sonny and Cher or for his activism, should check out this season of American Horror Story. Making his second foray into Ryan Murphy’s world in Cult, Chaz takes on the role of a staunch Trump supporter who will go to almost any length — seriously — to get to the ballot box to support his candidate.
In a recent one-on-one interview, Chaz talked about how he got involved in the twisted fright phenomenon. “I’d shot an independent film a few years back called Dirty. When I saw my scene in it, my first thought was, ‘I’ve got to get this to Ryan Murphy. If I can get this to Ryan Murphy I feel like he would give me a shot on American Horror Story,” which I have been a fan of since the first episode.”
It took a couple of years but Chaz’ persistence paid off. “I finally did [get it to him] and then I got offered the part on Roanoke. I found out this year that they were bringing me back and… the part that I was playing was irrelevant. I was just really happy to come back. Then when I heard about the character I was playing, I was just really excited about it because I like to play characters that are as far from as me as possible. So it sounded like a lot of fun.”
In AHS: Cult, Chaz plays Gary Longstreet, a supermarket clerk who sexually assaults the wrong woman at a Trump rally. Here are those spoilers we were talking about, Chaz gets abducted by the woman and is given one way to escape from captivity to cast his vote for The Donald — cutting off his own hand.
He recounted playing what will go down in history was one of TV’s most out there moments of the decade. “That was a really good scene. It was a hard scene because it was physically hard. I was taped up on the floor most of the day and the screaming was kind of tough. And, quite frankly, the sawing off my own hand is a weird fear of mine... The series is about fear and what fear does and somehow I got thrown into this character that tapped into one of mine. Going to childhood, I had this really freaky dream that has stayed with me my whole life about someone cutting off, it was actually, a leg in front of me as a kid. From beginning, I was like, ‘Oh, man, this is gonna be freaky.’”
Luckily for Chaz, he had an amazing scene partner in Evan Peters — an AHS troupe regular and the cult leader in this season’s outing. “It was an emotionally tough thing but the good part of it was Evan Peters is just a great actor. He’s so great to work off and so that part of it made it really easy. And I think we had established a really great working rapport. And so in doing that scene, I just really played off of what he was giving me.”
Chaz continued, “I really had to get worked up as he was giving me that speech. I had to take that time to listen to it and get to that emotional place where I was willing to do that. But Evan he’s got these great, intense eyes and a lot of time, throughout the show, we would just kind of lock eyes and there was this thing there between us. So, it turned out to be just a great scene when it all came together.”
He also gave a nod to the masters of special effects who make AHS one of the most enjoyable gory shows on TV. “The special effects were really cool,” noted Chaz. “That was the last thing shot, with the blood, of course — super gnarly. I was so bloody afterward that they had to put a plastic sheet down in the transport… They’re ready for that there on that show. The bloody stuff is crazy. You just end up completely soaked in blood. It’s a unique experience.”
Another unique experience that Chaz had while the show was in production was taking a big group of his castmates to see his mom, Cher, perform in Las Vegas. “We were shooting the scene where we nail gun James [Morosini]’s head — really intense scene. So you need lightness when that stuff’s going on, clearly.”
While the crew changed camera set-ups, the cast sat together in the living room set, trying to keep the mood light. “We happened to be sitting on the set, all the clowns in that scene, and somehow concerts got brought up,” continued Chaz. “Somebody brought up Ricky Martin and all that. And it just kind of hit me and I was like, ‘Oh, you know, my mom’s gonna be in Vegas while we’re shooting. Anybody have an interest in going if I can wrangle something?’ And literally every hand shot up in the room. I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll try to figure something out.’”
After a bit of finagling, Chaz was able to arrange for the field trip for Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Billy Eichner, Colton Haynes, Adina Porter, Alison Pill, Leslie Grossman and Cheyenne Jackson and more. By all accounts, the group had a blast and Chaz has the evidence. “I have really hysterical pictures of predominantly Sarah Paulson because she’s a huge, just huge Cher fan. But I also have some of Billie Lourde and Colton and they’re pretty funny,” Chaz confessed.
The concert sounds like a surreal experience but Chaz has been living in the out there world of AHS: Cult for a while now. And it’s impossible not to wonder how one of the world’s most high-profile transgender activists was able to tackle the role of someone who wore a “Make American Great Again” baseball cap.
“I really try to play each scene as it is. I think you get really bogged down as an actor, at least for me, if I try to think really big picture,” Chaz admitted. “I think at first I started to think that way. I was like, ‘Oh, my god.’ Because usually, I’ve played characters really, even more different from me than Gary. Other than our political views, and Gary goes kind of homicidal, he seems kind of close to me. Just a guy, you know.”
To find out more about American Horror Story: Cult visit the show’s website and visit Chaz Bono’s official website at chazbono.org.